Caroline is now a little over 1.5 years old. About 2 months ago, I realized that I wasn’t really taking the time to have focused learning yet with our daughter. Don’t get me wrong, we talk shapes, colors, objects, and more all day long infused in our natural play and conversation. But, I wasn’t taking the time to actually sit down with her and go through the alphabet, or have a focused time on just shapes, or numbers, etc. At this age, Caroline seemed to just be soaking in any and all information given to her. So, I made it a goal to try and have her sit down with me on a daily basis for 5-10 minutes and have focused learning sessions.
My first attempt, I sat down with an alphabet book and sang the ABC’s. I pointed to each letter as I went through the song. I figured it was silly to ask, but I decided to see if Caroline already knew any letters. In the video below, you’ll see how she
did. I asked her “where is M for mama?” and “A for apple?”. She pointed to both on the first try! I then grabbed the video camera and asked again. It didn’t seem to be a fluke. She got the answers right, again! This was the first time in FOREVER that I’d sat down with her and focused on letters, so it was not something that she just learned…or even learned from focused play. The most I’d ever done with her was sing the alphabet song (months ago), and I used to write out letters on the doodle pro and write lists of words that she knew that started with that letter. She was young at the time, but old enough to point to pictures in books and ask the names of objects. So, as a break from simply naming things, I’d sit down and write out the words for her to see. It was more for me than her! Anyways, her ability to identify a couple of letters was something that she learned in natural, casual play and conversation, because it had been a long, long time since we’d done anything like that. Still, it got me pretty excited!
It’s been not quite 2 months since then, and we’ve done focused learning each day. It doesn’t last long (maybe 5-15 minutes depending on the day). If she’s having fun and is focused, we continue. If she isn’t feeling it, I don’t push it and we try again the next day. Caroline really enjoys learning the alphabet and even brings her alphabet puzzle to me so I can do the alphabet with her!
In just 2 months, Caroline has learned to identify all 26 letters! She occasionally has trouble with E, F and U. Other than that, she is pretty solid on her letters!
Here’s what we’ve done over the last 2 months:
1. Focused play using an alphabet puzzle: This is the number one thing we do. I sit down and sing the song with her each time. I slow the song down and point to each letter. Then I literally quiz her. We go out of order, and sometimes we take the letters out of the puzzle and mix them up. She LOVES LOVES LOVES showing me what she knows! She points to the letters and sometimes hands them to me.
2. Alphabet Video on YouTube. One of my fellow blogging mamas sent this video my way. Caroline begs to watch this at times. Prior to this, the only thing I could get her to watch on TV was music videos. Now, she prefers her ABC video over the music videos and would watch it all the time if I let her! She’s allowed to watch this once per day if she likes. I think we had a couple of weeks were she asked to watch it each day. She’s backed off of watching it now and only watches parts of it every few days.
3. We assigned objects/names to each letter to give it an association. A for apple. B for bear. C for Caroline. M for Mama. You get the idea! Now when she picks out a letter, I say “A for ?” and she answers on the ones she can say. She will find a letter on her own and say the word. She points to a A on a license plate and says “Apple”.
5. Letters everywhere. We now have magnetic letters on our dishwasher, and bathtub letters as well. Caroline has so much fun demonstrating things she knows. Now she can show us her letter knowledge in multiple locations throughout the house!
I actually think this has helped Caroline with her speech as well. We are focusing on the alphabet sounds when we say the assigned objects/words for each letter. In just the last couple of weeks, she’s really started to experiment with more noises and is trying to say so many words now. She is saying the beginning sounds pretty well!
This activity has also helped Caroline learn how to do puzzles! When she was around 6 months old, she loved puzzles. Somewhere along the way, her excitement dwindled, so we haven’t been playing with them much anymore. Now that she is capable of such fine motor skills, it was exciting to watch Caroline learn to turn the letters to get them into the correct positions. She will sit and put every single letter back in the right place, all on her own without any help! She knows where the letters go, and rotates them to fit in!
I think this has been such an amazing experience for myself and for my daughter. Children are so eager to learn and it is important that we keep their excitement up. With that said, if a child isn’t enjoying a focused learning activity…find a new way and don’t force it. The excitement is the key. Caroline wants to learn her letters now. I am providing her opportunities to do so, but more so following her lead. She’ll get tired of this activity soon enough, I would imagine. So we’ll move on at that point to shapes, colors or numbers. We’ve still been teaching all of that, but our focused learning play will start to incorporate those ideas as well. In the meantime, Caroline can’t get enough of her letters, so we’ll stick with this! We even brought out an alphabet wipe clean book the other day. She just loves seeing letters in surprise places like this!
Here is a list of links for all of the items we have been using to teach the alphabet:
The ones we have used the most are discussed above