31 answers

Teaching a 3 Year Old His Letters

Any suggestions on the best way to teach a three year old the letters of the alphabet? We have tried flash cards, dry erase boards and "bathtub" sticky letters, but there seems to be very little retention. Any ideas would be helpful. Thanks!

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LeapFrog has a DVD called Letter Factory. It not only teaches them their letters, but what sound each letter says. My daughter learned her letters and sounds from the DVD before she was 2 and a half.

I was a nonbeliever when my husband wanted to get it for her, but it worked, and she loved it! It was her favorite movie for years...(she's 7 now)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My son was the same way. I went over the ABCs several times with him and I never thought it was getting through. One day out of the blue he said the entire alphabet!!! It was in his head, but it came out when he was ready. I couldn't believe what I heard. Just keep doing what you are doing. It will come out when you least expect it.

I use the leapfrog Fridge phonics thing that is at walmart. My 3yr old has learned to say most of the alphabet he recognizes several of the letters and sounds. I started with just the letter one I am planning on getting the one that makes 3 letter words and the letters interchange between the 2. Goodluck. Each child is differant on what they need in order to learn.

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I have not read the other comments. Sometimes these things take time. At 3 they are still growing and absorbing so much. Keep working with your child and make it fun. One of my children could write their name and recognized their letters and numbers by the time they were about 3 and half - my other child developed in other areas and really did not get the letters, numbers, writing thing until they were 5. It's important to work with the child - but they are going to learn at their own pace. Try not to stress about it - the child is 3. Keep going over it. You might try focusing on one letter each week.

1 mom found this helpful

My two-year old loves the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD, and it's taught her all of her letters and their sounds. We also have soft letters, foam letters for the tub, and an ABC book; sometimes we go through them on her chalkboard. But I have to admit, it's the Letter Factory that really got her hooked on them!

That being said, I did my student teaching in a Kindergarten and many of the children learned it in that context. There's nothing wrong with that! I think just exposing your child to letters and the fact that they have meaning is huge. Reading together is huge. Making it a game is fun. My daughter now likes to point out letters on signs as we're driving, and it's a game to her. I think it's important to keep it that way when they're so little! :)

1 mom found this helpful

He/she is 3 years old, let them be 3 years old. Don't get frustrated if they can't retain this because then your frustration will come across as disapproval and that will go with them for a long time. Just have fun with them.

There is a fun curriculum that's free online that we enjoyed when my son was about that age. It's called letteroftheweek.com and we had so much fun with it. However, I didn't expect him to remember everything we went over, some things he retained, others he didn't.

I have 5 children and I found that I tried to push my 1st child to grow up before #2 came along and that was a mistake. 3 is still a toddler, still little. He/she wants Mom/Dad to just love & cuddle them, play with them, not constantly be teaching them. Yes there are teachable moments but not every moment, know what I mean? When #3 came along I didn't push #2 to grow up & it was so much better for everyone.

Right now colors & shapes, counting to 10 are good for a 3 year old. Check out that curriculum, it's really awesome and it's free.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi N.,
My first thought is that it's probably a little early for retention of the letters. I purchased alot of letters, wooden blocks and as you said, bath tub stickies. The one my children enjoyed the most and I feel actually learned something from was the fridge magnet from leap frog. It has all of the letters and it sings them a song about what letter it is and what sound it makes. My twins (who are 8 yrs now) played with it for years! I still have it, it is still working and is always a hit with the little ones. I think the price was somewhere around $25. at that time and it was money very well spent. Don't fret about retention right now, just let him enjoy playing and he will retain a little at a time.
Good luck and may God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

I know you've gotten a lot of resonses, but as teacher I just hate to not say anything! :) Patience is the trick even if he doesn't seem to be retaining it, he is gaining from what you're doing. There is such a short window of time when children are little to stimulate the neurons in the brain.
Two big things:

*Make sure he is associating the sound with the letter when you are doing it. Like go over and over T... Ttt.. not TUUU (that teaches him T and U together, not just T sound) So T, Tttt, T is for Truck, Triangle, Tilt, Thomas, etc.

*Definitely let him 'manipulate' the shape... like sand on the ground and tracing the letter in it. or shaping play dough into the letter.

Oh, and also work on lower case first. Most letters in sentences and books are lower case. Once kids have that, then they can do upper case.

Good job for teaching him before Kindergarten!!
Amanda

1 mom found this helpful

repitition is the key. You have to do one letter at a time and talk about it to death! you can't do more than one at a time. At preschools, they have a "letter of the week" and for the entire week, they talk about that letter, what sound it makes, and all kinds of things that begin with it. They also point out words or objects that begin or include the letter. There are all kinds of alphabet poems that use alliteration. it's got to be a game.

Good Luck !!!!

1 mom found this helpful

LeapFrog has a DVD called Letter Factory. It not only teaches them their letters, but what sound each letter says. My daughter learned her letters and sounds from the DVD before she was 2 and a half.

I was a nonbeliever when my husband wanted to get it for her, but it worked, and she loved it! It was her favorite movie for years...(she's 7 now)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My 2 year old knows all of her capital letters. She learned some by watching Wheel of Fortune. The rest she has learned by a playing on the computer. What we do, while we are making dinner, is pull up the word processing program and make the font big enough for us to see from where we are. We then call out letters and numbers for her to find on the keyboard. She pushes it once and if we say it is correct she pushes it a lot of times. She has fun. She is learning where the letters are on the keyboard and learning her letters. All kids love to play on computers like their parents.

Hi N.
There are so many wonderful tools out there to help them learn. We had come across a toy called the "Pooh Leaning Pond" which was a key pad of letters in the shape of fish, ducks, etc., and on the same toy had numbers in different shapes with a small screen. Pooh and Tiger talked back to you when you touched any letter or number. This toy had three categories that you could choose from such as "find"; "identify" and "what comes next". My son played with this for hours because it was interactive and the LED screen made him think he was watching TV. It wasn't long until he knew all his letters and numbers. I'm not sure how old this is, we did not buy it new. It is fun finding all that is available to children now.

Cindi

My son was the same way. I went over the ABCs several times with him and I never thought it was getting through. One day out of the blue he said the entire alphabet!!! It was in his head, but it came out when he was ready. I couldn't believe what I heard. Just keep doing what you are doing. It will come out when you least expect it.

I don't have any advice, but wanted to let you know that my soon to be 3 year old doesn't know a single letter of the alphabet, so I can totally empathize. I've done much of the same things you have and he's just not interested unlike my daughter who knew the entire alphabet by 2. My son has different things on his mind (like Thomas the Tank). I just wanted to let you know that I'm in the same boat and I'm sure they'll get it soon enough. Let me know if you get any good advice and good luck!

Hi! I would try a matching game! For example, you put the letter A down and say the letter, then have your child find another letter A and match and say. This works well with my students. Also you can make up songs about letter. Hope this is helpful.

Your son is three, and he may not be ready to learn his ABC's quite yet. A suggestion would be to get creative and develop a song for him. If he doesn't get it, don't get overly worried at this point. Is he enrolled in a preschool or headstart program? That would be one option. I do want to remind you that the ABC's are something that kids learn in Kidergarten.

My neice couldn't get past g until about halfway through the first semester of her kindergarten year. Now, she is toward the end of the year and learning to add and subtract with my son. (He decided that she needed to know how to play grocery store. LOL He has been learning multiplication and division. Go figure.)

My son learned his letters and sounds with the Leap Frog Video called "The Letter Factory". You can find it at Walmart in the toy section.
My son was reading by age 3. It is an awesome video.

I use the leapfrog Fridge phonics thing that is at walmart. My 3yr old has learned to say most of the alphabet he recognizes several of the letters and sounds. I started with just the letter one I am planning on getting the one that makes 3 letter words and the letters interchange between the 2. Goodluck. Each child is differant on what they need in order to learn.

N., I am a 30 year old stay at home mother of 6 ages 10 years down to 18 months. I home school my children and reading young of one of the biggest helpers for me. Having said that I have a little girl that just turned 4 and she doesn't know all her letters. I am just starting her on "100 easy lessons to reading". A great book for reading. But through the years I have found that they all learn so differently and will pick up on things if you keep exposing them to whatever it is you want them to learn. My oldest knew his letters when he was about 18 months and started to teach himself to read at 3yrs. My baby right now 18 months hardly speaks. Such extremes. My oldest learned from a little board book that said Aa is for... he wanted to read it all the time and when we'd read it every page I would point to the letter say the name of the letter and the sound. I haven't done this with my others, and they have all been reading at a 2-3 grade level by the age of 5. My oldest was reading at a 3rd grade comprehention level with a 5th-6th grade word recognition. If you have any ?'s let me know. Mostly I would say don't worry about it, just keep doing what you are doing. But if you are worried I would get a basic A, B, C book and stick with the same book and read it at least once a day. I usually start my little ones on "100 easy lessons to reading" when they are 4. I swear by this book. It teaches the sound recognition before the name of the letter. Great book if you are looking to have your child read early. Sorry about he novel.

M.

Hey we bought my son this leap frog for the refrigerator, you and put the letters in and it tells you what the letter is and what is sounds like and it also has a button that sings the alphabet. He loves it and has just started singing along with it. My son is about 19 months. Hope this helps. I think it was about 20 at walmart

watch some sesame street. my son is 2 1/2 and after watching sesame street he has started learning his letters and numbers.

Put the letter drills on hold for a while, and just keep pointing them out in every-day situations whenever it seems appropriate. My oldest didn't seem to be getting his letters at three, so I just dropped it for a while and focused on the things he did seem interested in: mazes and cutting. The next thing I knew he was asking me how to spell words and writing out the letters all by himself--without ever having practiced writing most of them! Kids will pick these things up eventually, and it may be hard because of feeling the pressure of what other people's kids are doing, but three year olds don't actually need to know their letters. If you child doesn't start picking them around age five, then you can be concerned, but for now, just wait and don't worry. Focus on the things your child does seem interested in. You have plenty of time for letters later. :)

Magnetic letters on the fridge are fun for everyone, tho (unless you have a stainless steel fridge. I hear they won't stick on those, so use the washer or dryer, cooking range, a metal dry-erase board or whatever), but d'ya know what? . . . All you can do is make sure he's EXPOSED to diverse learning experiences. You can't drill a hole and pour it in! LOL Every kid has different interests and learns different things at different ages. Maybe he'd rather play with a tool kit, singing and playing music, coloring books, or even dolls! Prompt him and praise him in whatever he succeeds at, and the rest will follow in good time.

Some kids "get it" faster than others, and others are slower. My brother's two kids are night and day when it came to learning letters. They're 19 months apart in age, and the older one took a *long* time to learn his letters, while the younger one picked it up in a snap. They'd be sitting together on the floor playing with Winnie the Pooh letter cards (at 2 & 3 y/o or 3 & 4 y/o), and the younger one knew almost all of them, while the older one still struggled with recognizing any one letter.

http://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Fridge-Phonics-Magnetic-Al...

We love the Leap Frog fridge set. It took about two weeks and our 2 yr old knows her letters.

Hi N.,

I have to agree with Kate T. The LeapFrog Letter Facory DVD made it fun and easy for my kids.

Good luck!

Do you have a school supply store around where you live? I went to one here and got alphabet posters (that teachers use in the classroom) with pictures of letters and corresponding animals or objects that begin with that letter. Then I put them all along his wall at his level. I didn't really even have point them out- He was naturally curious about the pictures on the posters and it went from there. Good luck!

Others have already mentioned the Leap Frog fridge magnet thing that sings the letters and the sounds each letter makes. Just wanted to add my encouragement here about it... it is wonderful! My son knew his letters before he could really even talk yet, AND the sounds they make! This was way before I ever would've thought to work on letters with him... he just blew us away by knowing them, having learned them from the fridge magnet on his own. Since he had already learned the letters and their sounds so early, I went ahead and started working with him on sounding out words... mostly just when we were bored, waiting in line somewhere, stuck in traffic, etc.... but we also make words on the fridge sometimes with the magnets. Now he can already read a little at age 3! It's all thanks to that Leap Frog alphabet magnet. I see these things at yard sales all the time. Another option if you didn't want to pay full price for a new one is to look on ebay.
Best wishes to you and your family!

N., everyone has had great ideas but i also agree with those who say just to relax - i am a mom to four - three of my kids picked up letters and reading easily but i have one daughter who has struggled - i worried over it for a long time until i had some very sweet and experienced mom's and educators tell me that some kids really aren't ready at the same time other kids are - try not to push it and make it fun when you do go over letters or numbers or any new concept - i have a two year old son that loves the website www.starfall.com - they have a link to videos for each letter - he loves that and we visit that site a few times a week - i focus on one letter at a time and only spend as much time as he wants - usually only about 10 minutes - i hope this helps :-)

Your child will get it when he/she is ready. Just keep trying and don't let him/her see your frustration. Something also fun is using shaving cream/pudding. Spread on table or on plastic wrap if don't want to clean up mess and write letters in the "mess". Just yet another way to approach. My dd is 4 and knows her letters but was thinking of using this today to help her "write" her letters. Enjoy your child

without a doubt...LeapFrog Letter Factory. :)
plus when your next little one arrives, you can have him learning while you sit next to him and feed the baby or whatever. trust me he'll love this video so much he'll be happy to watch and you'll have a few minutes of quiet - maybe

From what I've read, most children don't know all the letters of the alphabet when they enter kindergarten. So first of all, I wouldn't sweat it. That being said, my eldest learned them from one of those big foam mats where all the letters connect together. You can probably get one in any toy store. With my second I got those little books that come in a set and each one contains 2 letters with corresponding pictures. Kids love them because they are small enough for them to hold in their hands. Just as she learned vocabulary words from the books (that she'd eventually repeat as we looked through the books), she learned the names of the letters too. Good luck!

Hi N.
I hope you are doing well.
Yes I have a great idea.
I had this thought and was going to see if I could have it out there for a educational game for young children.
Here it goes.
Get your self a nice size bag.
Nothing on it.
It should have a handle on it so that the child can carry it easily.
On the bag
Have a place for his or her name one it.
Then make a place to put alot of awarding stickers on it.
I call it P. U. P. (Play. u Pick)
Have the child go around and pick up his toys and things.
And as he or she picks them up. Teach them to count. Learn the colors.
And on the other side of the bag You print out the letters of the alphabets Upper and lower cases. Set with them and point them out. Have them to say them. And if they say them correctly you can place a sticker by their name.
Also you can put numbers and differents shapes on the bag.
They could color in the shape. And also learn to count.
This will give you and your child quality time and have alot of fun learning.
You will be teaching and showing them how to pick up after they are done playing and helping Mommy and Daddy.
You also can put their picture by their name or the family.
This will also recycle the bag a few time too.
i hope you like the idea.
Pass it on to other parents if you like.
I will never make any money frommy idea.
But I am so very glad to help.
God Bless you all

We used a wooden puzzle with the alphabet. Under each letter was a picture of something that started with that letter.

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