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When Is My Child Ready to Begin Learning the Alphabet? (In Brief)

If you would like to delve into the complexities of child development and learning language, check out the in-depth version of this blog post. If you are seeking a more concise answer, read on.

Usually, children become ready for learning the letters of the alphabet when they are around three and a half years old. However, some might absorb letter sounds at the age of two; still others might not feel ready for such information until much later.

Teaching reading is as much an art as it is a science. An important part of teaching (and parenting) is knowing when a child is ready and excited for that next lesson or challenge. We all know the parents whose precocious young Susie memorized her letters in the womb; however, let us dispense with the impulse to compare children and instead consider the precious person in front of us: What do they need? What are they ready for? If we time it right, they will emerge into reading with excitement and ease. If we push too much too soon, it could backfire.

In practical terms, rather than whipping out flash cards in celebration of your child’s third birthday, notice the following prerequisites to learning letters.

How do you know when a child is ready to begin learning letter sounds?

  1. They have accomplished extensive fine motor practice.

  2. They have extensive experience with books.

  3. They can discern between shapes and colors.

  4. They can concentrate on the task at hand, at least for a little while.

  5. They demonstrate an interest in learning about letters.


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