The ABC’s of Teaching Toddlers the Alphabet

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young child with abc board

Is your toddler ready to learn their letters? Teaching toddlers the alphabet lays the foundation for reading and writing, and opens up so many doors for your little one when it comes to learning! Most children begin to show interest in learning the letters of the alphabet around age 2, though some might need extra time and support.

As a mom of two toddlers, I’ve been in your shoes. Here are some of my favorite ways to teach the alphabet to toddlers.

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At what age should you start teaching your child the alphabet?

As children grow, they begin to hit learning milestones. While every child is different, learning the alphabet is one of the most important early educational milestones that your child faces.

Once they know their ABC’s, your child is able to start learning how to read and write! The earlier you start teaching your child the alphabet, the sooner they can start down the path to reading and writing.

So, at what age should you start teaching your child the alphabet? As early as possible! Children learn through repetition, so the more often they are exposed to the alphabet, the sooner they will begin recognizing those letters.

Learning the alphabet is an ongoing process. Your child won’t wake up one morning singing the ABC song without some extra help from you (or their teacher).

Should Uppercase or Lowercase Letters Be Taught First?

boy stacking blocks

There are a LOT of opinions about whether you should teach uppercase or lowercase letters first. Those who advocate for uppercase first argue that capital letters are easier for children to identify, differentiate between and draw, while those who argue for lowercase first mention that the majority of the written word is in lowercase letters.

Long story short: there’s no one right way to teach your toddler the alphabet. For our family, we chose to start teaching our toddler uppercase letters first for a few reasons.

First, capital letters are easy to identify and point out. My son Archer loves to point out the letter A in logos, street signs and movie titles! At his age the number 1 thing that I want for him is to be able to recognize and correctly identify his letters.

I also liked that uppercase letters are easier to draw, especially for little hands. While he’s not quite ready to start writing just yet, it does seem to motivate him to try to write his letters when it’s something he feels more confident with. They aren’t full of curves, don’t cross back over each other, and I don’t have to explain to him “why” the lines start and stop in random places (like in the little r or t).

Now when it comes to teaching your child to actually write and put together words by writing, that’s a whole different conversation. But for teaching your toddler the alphabet, I believe that starting with uppercase letters makes the most sense. Once they master those, you can start adding in lowercase letters too!

How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers/Toddlers

little girl reading a book

When it comes to teaching the alphabet to your preschooler or toddler, there are so many approaches and ways to help them learn!

Here are a few tried and true techniques for teaching toddlers the alphabet. Remember that every child is different, and incorporating a variety of learning approaches helps most children learn the alphabet.

Go with a classic – ABC Sing-A-Long Songs

Who doesn’t love a fun sing-a-long? While of course there’s the old classic ABC song (which is the first alphabet song most children learn), there are also a ton of new approaches out there too.

Check out this great YouTube playlist from Cocomelon that includes 35 minutes of songs about the alphabet for your little learner!

Look for books that teach the Alphabet

Our family loves to read together, and ABC books are such a fun way to help reinforce learning the alphabet! Here are a few wonderful ABC books for toddlers, including a few of our own favorites.

Use Letter Boards, puzzles & ABC Games

Letter boards, puzzles and ABC games are a fun way to incorporate learning the alphabet into everyday play.

I love these personalized name puzzles that you can order for your toddler! Not only are they a fun way to learn the letters that form their name, but they also are a great way to work on hand eye coordination and motor skills.

These magnetic alphabet letters and ABC puzzles are also a wonderful way to help reinforce the ABC’s for your child.

Point out letters of the alphabet on everyday items

One of our favorite activities for learning the alphabet is pointing out the letter we are focusing on in different places. Turn it into an alphabet version of “I Spy!”

So for example, if we were working on the letter T, I’ll ask my toddler to find it on the cover of his book, on his Toy Story sheets, or let me know when it comes on the screen if we’re watching Thomas the Tank Engine.

This is also a fun activity if you’re out and about. Find the letter T at the grocery store, on a street sign while you’re walking around the neighborhood, or even on a manhole cover!

Look into ABC Printables and Worksheets

ABC printables and worksheets are another easy to way to help your child learn their letters. You can enlarge WordArt letters and print your own or snag ABC templates from a variety of free website. Check out these great ones from Education.com!

grab one of these fun ABC coloring books or reusable activity pads!

Download Toddler-Friendly ABC learning Apps

When it comes to teaching your preschooler the alphabet, technology is here to help. There are so many interactive apps that can help provide extra learning opportunities for your toddler when learning the ABC’s.

Here are a few wonderful ones to check out that are geared towards toddlers and preschoolers!

Interactive Alphabet ABCs
Your little one will sing, trace, and type his way to learning his letters and reading with this fun app. Five different modes of play to help with learning!

Elmo Loves ABCs is very appealing for young ones, thanks to its big collection of songs, videos, games and of course, Elmo! With an emphasis on helping children learn to identify letter names (both uppercase and lowercase) letter sounds, and form letter shapes, this is a great app for learning the ABC’s.

learning app

ABC Alphabet Phonics – Preschool Game for Kids teaches children to match a letter name or sound with its letter shape. You can even customize the fun by adding your own examples for your own kids!

teacher and student

Teaching your toddler the ABC’s should be a fun learning experience for you and them!

Teaching toddlers the alphabet requires repetition and sometimes a bit of creativity, but it is so worth it. The alphabet lays the foundation for reading and writing, which means the earlier you start working with your little one on learning their letters, the sooner you can watch them blossom into being ready to read and write.

Remember that every child is different! Some might pick up their ABC’s quickly, while others might take a little bit longer.

From ABC Sing-A-Long Songs, alphabet books, letter boards, puzzles, printables, games and ABC learning apps, I hope this post helped you find a few fun new ways to start teaching your toddler the alphabet.

Related: The Best Toddler Sleep Sacks for Every Size

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