I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

The ABC's of Teaching the ABC's

After teaching numerous kindergarten scholars in a traditional school setting and now three of my own five children as we are gathered 'round the kitchen table each day, I have learned a few ABCs about teaching the ABCs.

Always teach the vowels first.  By starting with the vowels, statistics are in your favor.  There are only five vowels vs. twenty-one consonants.  At least one vowel appears in every word in the English language. Quite simply, once a little learner masters his/her vowels, he can already begin to recognize sounds within every word.

Borrow from the "winners."  For over thirty years, Vanna White has been called upon to turn the letters for hopeful contestants on the long-running game show, Wheel of Fortune.  Without fail, during the "bonus round", the same five letters are announced...R, S, T, L, and N as eager players look on with anticipation while White turns over any/all lit tiles.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the obvious logic behind the selection of THOSE particular letters.  They are COMMON and commonly used in a lot of COMMON words.  For this reason, after teaching the five vowels, I teach a handful of commonly used consonants next (R, S, T, L, N, and a few others).  When combined with the previously-mastered vowels, these consonants can create many simple one-vowel words.  So, even before a child has conquered all the letters in the alphabet, he can already read a large handful of words (like "sat", "man", "bat").  Nothing propels a feeling of success or a love of reading quite like actual READING.

Cast off tradition.  Although most pre-readers have learned the words and tune to the popular ABC song long before they actually know what an A, B, or C really is,  they should not be encouraged to learn the formation or sound of the letter in that same order.  Experience has shown that a child who learns the sounds of his letters in alphabetical ORDER has a harder time recognizing them out of order...as in the case of a REAL WORD.  You will often times see these children singing the ABC song out loud or in their head in order to remember the sound or name of a particular letter.  The "habit" that was created as a toddler of seeing and singing the letters in a particular order is hard to break.  But if the formation and sound of the letters are taught APART from the song and the song order, the child's reasoning skills will categorize the song as one concept and the sound/formation as a completely different concept.  Therefore, it is much easier for him to learn to truly READ the letter.

As a final thought...Although I introduce both the capital and small version of each letter together, I emphasize the small formation the most.  Let's face it, the ratio of small letters to large letters in a book is quite substantial.  Typically only the first letter of each sentence or an occasional name is ever capitalized.  When choosing educational toys and games, you can always spot a QUALITY item if it was created with small letters vs. capitals.  Not only for the purpose of reading, but also for manufacturing costs...it is cheaper for a manufacturer to produce a toy with straight lines (as in the case of most capitals) than it is to produce a toy with both straight and curved lines (like small letters).  This is why most QUALITY, small letter toys (puzzles, push-button games, blocks, etc.) are more expensive than their capital letter counterparts.

Although every child is uniquely wired with his/her own unique way of learning, teaching most little learners to read the ABCs is as simple as A-B-C.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button


  1. Thanks for this ABC lesson! I'd never considered why people teach the ABC's in an particular order, but this makes a lot of sense. :)

  2. found you through play, create, explore, Iam now following your blog, thanks for sharing your ideas :)

  3. This is super advice! The Wheel of Fortune analogy makes perfect sense!

  4. I agree with teaching the vowels first! I had never considered the common letters, as from Wheel of Fortune, but now I'm going to try it out!

  5. Thank you for this post. I'm getting ready to start teaching ABCs to my 3 years old so this was very helpful!

  6. Great ideas! I was wondering where you purchased the big alphabet floor puzzle.