Experts Say: Learning Your ABCs

Does your little pre-schooler not know her alphabets? Give it time.


My daughter, four, is still unable to identify the alphabets. She gets confused easily. How do we help her catch up with her peers?


The biggest challenge is not to teach your daughter to recognise the letters of the alphabet but to keep her interested to learn the alphabet. All too often in our anxiety to get our children reading, we can make them dread the sight of letters, and that becomes a lasting problem.


At four, your child should begin to recognise the letters but remember some children do take longer than others and within a year or two catch up without a problem. 


My son struggled all through preschool to recognise the names of letters, was hopeless with the sequence of the alphabets and had very little interest in writing letters. I was really concerned when he was four and five years old, as he seemed far behind his peers. However, by the age of 10, he was reading at a level, two years above his grade!


I would suggest you focus on pre-literacy activities that she can do, for example, sing the alphabet, recognise logos and symbols while you are out and about, maybe read her own name or the first letter of her name. Before children can begin to recognise the alphabet and the small differences between each letter they must be able to see the difference between shapes and colours. If your daughter is still at the stage where she is learning those, focus there. There are many games and activities that support this. Learning to read takes many small steps and stages and children need time and practice to master one before they can move on to the next.


There are a number of fun activities you can do to increase recognition and this can include writing letters using shaving cream on a small tray (everyone loves that), cutting out letters from old magazines and doing a collage, cutting out a big letter shape and decorating it, playing with magnet letters on the fridge. Do something every day, even if it only takes a few minutes. 


The two most valuable pieces of advice I believe I can give you are:


Remain Positive

Any anxiety will pass on to your daughter and will slow the process down. Celebrate what she can do and revisit activities she finds easy so she feels confident and successful. Remember some children are not ready to read until the age of six or seven and then it all clicks into place. 


Read Daily to Your Daughter

The best way to develop literacy skills in a child is to read aloud to them. This makes reading a pleasurable activity by creating a bond between you and develops your child’s imagination and creativity. It has also been proven time and again that children who are read to daily by a parent, read at a higher level, with greater understanding and use a wider vocabulary than those who are not read to. This is the best gift you can give your child.


Question answered by:

Fiona Walker

Group Managing Director

Julia Gabriel Education

Thanks for sharing!