Teaching English alphabet letters

Teaching English alphabet letters : Pre-school children need to learn  the shapes, names and sounds of  26  letters of the English alphabet. Children with a good knowledge of letter names and sounds seem to develop great skills for  learning to read. Here are three confusions regarding teaching letter-sound relationships to kindergarten children:

  • What should be taught first – letter names or letter sounds?
  • What should be taught first – capital letters or small letters?
  • In what order should alphabet letters be taught?




Here are some important ECD research findings:

  • Both letter names and letter sounds are important for teaching children to read and write. Children who know letter names learn letter sounds more readily than those without knowing letter names.
  • Recently most teachers have started teaching letter sounds first and letter names next as letter sounds help children a lot more for successful decoding than that of letter names.
  • Though small letters are more common in reading and writing, both forms of letters – capital and small are needed. Small letters are taught first since these occur more frequently in reading and writing than capital letters.


Our suggestions:

  • Letter sounds should be taught first. However, we also agree with the fact that if teaching your children letter names first is working, you can go for it.
  • While teaching children for tracing and forming letters, start with capital letters because capital letters are easy to trace and form and are visually distinct. On the other hand, some small letters like b, d, p and q are confusing and look similar. Teach such letters separately.
  • If any letter gives more than one sound (for example: the letter ‘c’ gives /s/ and /k/ sounds), do not teach both the sounds to Nursery children. Introduce such letters to LKG and UKG students one after another, separately.
  • You can teach alphabet letters to your children in their order in the alphabet or can choose some better ways to introduce the letters. The most accepted order is: m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, r, b, f, e, l, h, z, w, j, v, y, q, x.



Teaching tips:

  • Have the children sing alphabet songs, rhymes and chants.
  • Play lots of alphabet games.
  • Encourage them to create alphabet letters using play-dough, yarn, pebbles and other objects.
  • Let them trace over the sandpaper letters and draw the same letters in air, in the sand, on the table and on the back of their friends for sensory practice.
  • Let them read alphabet books and involve them in the activities with alphabet cards and phonics cards.
  • Some letters are harder to learn and some are easier. Start with easier ones.
  • Children are most likely to learn the first letter of  their name more easily and quickly. So start with their names.
  • Explain to them that each letter has a name and a sound.
  • Explain to them that each letter has two forms – capital and small, but both the forms give the same sound.
  • Letters like M, S, F, R, N, L  are easiest to stretch out and are easier to blend, so begin with them.
  • Make your own set of cards with letters, pictures and words.
  • Make use of alphabet posters and real objects.
  • Celebrate a letter week and ask the children to bring different objects for that letter.
  • Make an alphabet book with each student.


(This report has been prepared by D N Mukhiya and his pre-primary working team, collecting feedback and suggestions from the pre-primary teachers and phonics experts involved in the seminar organized by JHOONA. )


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