What Should I Teach My Children After the Alphabet?

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There are many activities parents can use to teach their children the alphabet. Knowing the alphabet goes way beyond singing the ABCs and includes identifying letter names, writing the letters, and recognizing letters in different contexts, like in books and on signs. Once children have solidified their knowledge of the alphabet, what’s next?


Uppercase and Lowercase Letters 

When considering your child’s knowledge of the alphabet, determine whether they are able to distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters. This may be something you taught when teaching them how to print each letter. Going forward, children need to know when to use an uppercase letter and when to use a lowercase letter. Have them get used to printing their name using the correct case. As they begin writing short sentences, teach them to start each sentence with an uppercase letter. You may also want to print out a fun handwriting worksheet that focuses on capitalization to help them keep practicing.


Consonants and Vowels

Although your child may know the letter names, be able to print them, and know their sounds, don’t forget to teach them which letters are consonants and which letters are vowels. You may wish to have the vowels displayed for your child to reference and paired with pictures that remind her of their sounds – both the short and long vowel sound. Perhaps when they were learning vowel sounds, you focused on the short sound. The next step is to learn the long sound. Over time, this will support their reading, like sounding out the word “bike.” It will also help them with their writing, as they learn rules like the silent or bossy ‘e.’   


CVC Words

CVC stands for “consonant-vowel-consonant.” CVC words are three-letter words that begin with a consonant, have a vowel in the middle, then end with a consonant. Examples include “cat,” “top,” and “bit.” Once children have learned the alphabet, CVC words are a great next step. They can begin learning how to blend sounds together to make a word. It moves children from identifying sounds in isolation to seeing how they work together to form words. 


When teaching CVC words, model how to say words slowly. For example, the word “cat” shouldn’t be read as “cu-a-tu,” with the addition of short ‘u’ sounds after the ‘c’ and ‘t.’ Model how to say words fluidly, blending one sound into the next. Working with CVC words will also support your child’s writing. Being able to segment words into sounds will help them spell them. 


Sight Words

In addition to learning CVC words, once children have learned the alphabet, move on to introducing sight words. Sight words are also known as high-frequency words. They are words that appear frequently in books and other texts, like “to,” “the,” and “I.” Many sight words cannot be sounded out, like “the” and “of,” and so children need to memorize them. The goal is for them to automatically recognize sight words when they see them. This helps for two reasons: 1) Sight words appear frequently so we don’t want young readers stumbling over them every time they appear in a story, and 2) Knowing sight words frees children up to focus on reading strategies to solve more complex words.


Reading and Writing

Continue to foster a love of reading and writing in your child. Read the poems, books, and rhymes. Encourage them to label pictures, make cards, and write their name. Let them see you reading and writing. Play word games and put together alphabet puzzles. It’s wonderful to show children at an early age how reading and writing open up a world of possibilities for them!