Learn how to get a jump start on teaching these skills.
Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.
What I Learned From Class
Several years ago I was a new mom just starting out. I would gobble up and commit to memory whatever information I could find about parenting. Then, I’d try to figure out if it was good advice or bad. Some things worked for me and some things didn’t. One small class I took when my daughter was a newborn didn’t have much of an impact on me at the time, but later became one of my favorite stored parenting memories. It was at a small, local bookstore and unfortunately, I didn’t hold on to the details about it, but I do remember many of the tips. One of the sections the class covered was how to introduce letters and numbers to your child as early at possible. The idea was that it’s never too early to start teaching, and with a few simple and fun activities, your kids can start learning well before their first pre-school class. The class suggested demonstrating and pointing out letters and numbers as often as possible without making it seem like a chore.
Start With Books
Opportunities for educating kids about letter and number recognition exist everywhere. The obvious opportunity is at home. Reading to your child is by far the best way to introduce letters and words in written form. Read to your kids every opportunity you get and let them carry books with them wherever they go. Books are not only great tools for passing time, but the more your children read and are read to, the more they will begin to associate the letters on the page with the words you are saying. It doesn’t matter if you use story books, board books, or coloring books. Any books with words will do! Read, read, read and then read some more!
Writing and Letters
In the class I mentioned earlier, the most specific tip I remember was teaching your children how to write and recognize their name on paper. Whenever we go to a restaurant, we get the usual crayons and paper for our kids to color on while waiting for the food to arrive. The first thing I always do is write their names on their papers. Always write in capital letters to be consistent and emphasize the first letter of the child’s name. If your daughter’s name is “Mary,” always remind her that it stars with the letter “m” as in Mary, monkey, map, and mommy. Then when you are out at the grocery store, you can ask Mary to help you find all of the products with the letter “m” on them. You can point out brands that actually show the letter on the product or you can show her the big ‘m” on the wall above the meat department. The key is to help the child recognize that letters actually DO something. They aren’t just there to be memorized. Many children can recite the alphabet, but not many of them know what the alphabet does. By giving your child a starting point that they can relate to, such as their name, you can help them connect the fact that the letter and the sound work together to create something.
Writing and Numbers
Numbers are similar to letters in the way that we introduce them to children. We teach them to memorize and then we say, “Mary can count to ten.” It is true that Mary can recite the numbers one through ten, but does that mean she understands what numbers do? Well, she might, but if you want to instill that knowledge at a young age--just as with letters--you need to give the child repeat examples in visual or physical form. So, again, when you find yourself coloring with your kids, write those numbers down where they can see them. You can trace your daughter’s hand on a piece of paper. Have her hold up her hand and count her fingers; then have her write the numbers inside the fingers on the paper. Exercises like that are simple, and kids love them. You can also make groups of large dots and then write the corresponding number next to the group. If your child is old enough, have her write the numbers. You’ll probably just stick with one through five when your child is still too young to write, but if your child can count to ten verbally, you should be showing her what ten looks like in physical form. You can even move on to simple math. For example, Three dots here and two dots there make five dots total. You can probably buy flash cards at your local dollar store; I know I’ve bought many myself. Kids will enjoy using these flashcards and will absorb them better if you are interactive with them. Frequently reading and writing together will absolutely help your child start the recognition and association process faster, and the best part is that you’ll be spending time together, too.
That’s it for now.
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This is your friend the Mighty Mommy wishing you happy and fun parenting!