What to do with a 2-year-old who's learning the alphabet - Mothering Forums

What to do with a 2-year-old who's learning the alphabet

pookel's Avatar pookel (TS)
08:23 PM Liked: 11
#1 of 8
02-09-2007 | Posts: 3,706
Joined: May 2006
I want to stress at the very beginning of this post that I have NOT been pushing my son to learn to read or learn the alphabet or anything else. Yes, I'm a fan of early reading instruction, and I've posted about it before, but my son is only 22 months old and I did not intend to try to teach him to read until he was 3 or so.

However ... he has books with the alphabet in them. And when someone is reading to him, he doesn't want to hear the story, he wants you to point to objects on the page and label them. He knows all kinds of random words he doesn't need to know ... like walrus, queen, ghost (all from books).

Along the way, he's picked up quite a few letters, and points them out excitedly when he spots them. He knows C,F,O,P,R,S,Z for sure, and sometimes gets some of the other ones right. When he points out a letter in a word and then I read the word to him, emphasizing the letter he knows, he's amazed.

So I'm wondering what I should do about this now. Is there a "right" way to teach the alphabet that will help him understand the sounds of the letters later on? Mostly, I'm wondering whether I should say the name of the letter or tell him the sound it makes, or both. I've been trying to do both, like "Ess says ssssssss," but I don't know if that's confusing. Doing nothing at all isn't really an option when he grabs my finger and points it at a letter and says "what?"

Any suggestions?
EBG's Avatar EBG
09:30 PM Liked: 0
#2 of 8
02-09-2007 | Posts: 403
Joined: May 2006
Wow, he's something, isn't he?
My DD1 knew her letters at the age of 2 from the Leapfrog DVD. For a few months she was really interested, and played with alphabet puzzles and knew most of the letters. And then, she lost interest and forgot most of them. Now she is 3 and a half and is re-learning her letters.
I say just go with it. If he wants to know, tell him. Some kids have photographic memory. My mother tells me that I was like that. Around 3-4 I kept asking the names of letters and taught myself to read before I went to school.
Personally I think it's cool that he's so interested. Keep reading with him.
KariM's Avatar KariM
11:00 PM Liked: 11
#3 of 8
02-09-2007 | Posts: 3,326
Joined: Mar 2004
I can't say what the "right" way is, just join you in your experience.

My DD is a bit over 2 now and has been learning letters and associated words for about 3 months.

Like your son, we have many books with alphabet themes and also some alphabet puzzles and memory games. As she's been learning words she's been learning letters and sounds. She also started to learn which words start with which letters in the same way.

We're doing simple letter sounds along with explaining common words associated with the letter. For instance we'll tell her that the D is the first sound in the word dog and we'll tell her that the letter D makes a "da" sound.

She takes great joy in pointing out the letters she knows whenever she sees them just as she'll point out other items she knows the names of.
boatbaby's Avatar boatbaby
11:14 PM Liked: 14
#4 of 8
02-09-2007 | Posts: 3,346
Joined: Aug 2004

I'd like to see what others have to say. My DS could ID every letter by 22 months just from playing. Now at 2 He can make sounds of the letters (D says duh. Mommy lets think of D words, dog, daddy, day, duck etc) and sometimes read out the odd small word. This is all from starfall.com and just reading A LOT!

The worry is that they're not "supposed" to do that until K or so.
So if I don't offer him more, will he be bored silly until K lessons? If I do offer him more am I pushing him and will he start to dislike reading?

I'd love to hear from others who have been there done that...
RedWine's Avatar RedWine
12:13 AM Liked: 6
#5 of 8
02-10-2007 | Posts: 2,899
Joined: Sep 2003
Been there!

My now 4 year old knew her letters by 19 months. I bought her those LeapFrog Fridge Phonics and she played with them constantly for 2 days. That was all it took.

I loosely followed the Letter of the Week "curriculum" (suggestions, really) when she turned two. I did what I felt was comfortable for dd1. One thing we did different was to make the theme start with the letter we were focusing on. She really enjoyed the things I did with her...yes, we even did the flashcards. Just before she turned 3, she was able to read quite a few of them on her own.

I think what we did took a grand total of 15-20 minutes each day, spread out throughout the day (not including reading books, which we have always done for an hour or more each day, or "field trips" to farms, zoos, etc.).


After this, dd1 was close to the age of 3 and reading quite a few words on her own. I read read read read read to her, and introduced her to starfall.

In September of last year (when she was just over 3 1/2), we began 100 EZ lessons, which started off way too easy for her but quickly became challenging. She did very well, and now she reads at a late 1st grade/early 2nd grade level. She just turned 4 late last December.

I feel my approach was mostly child-led, though there were a few times when I gently persuaded her to get through a sentence that was diificult for her. However, I do not consider her to have been "pushed." I have an early reader on my hands who read everything she can, and takes great pride in being able to do so.

My advice -- if she is showing an interest, help her along. Do not be put off by those who insist that a child shouldn't be reading until age whatever. If your child likes this, then keep offering it at a more and more challenging level. As long as your child does not feel stressed, then it is all very very good.
RedWine's Avatar RedWine
12:16 AM Liked: 6
#6 of 8
02-10-2007 | Posts: 2,899
Joined: Sep 2003
Originally Posted by boatbaby View Post

The worry is that they're not "supposed" to do that until K or so.
So if I don't offer him more, will he be bored silly until K lessons? If I do offer him more am I pushing him and will he start to dislike reading?

I'd love to hear from others who have been there done that...
Offer more. If he likes it, then you are not pushing. Offer more more more.
If/when he starts to feel stressed, then immediately stop and let him decide when to start up again.

You won't hurt him by doing this. You'll be helping his wings unfurl!
yllek's Avatar yllek
04:27 AM Liked: 14
#7 of 8
02-10-2007 | Posts: 481
Joined: Jan 2004
I'm in a similar situation with ds. When he was 18 mo, he Freaked Me Out, because he was identifying the sounds of letters, seemingly out of the blue pointing out letters. By 20 mo, he knew them all. By 24 mo, he knew their names and sounds, sang the ABC song, and could identify several words that start with each letter. And I never set out to "teach" him all this pre-literacy stuff. He just absorbed it with all the reading we do and occasional visits to starfall.

He's two-and-a-half now. He helps me read several of his books. I think he's relying mostly on extra-textual information to fill in his part, but sometimes I catch him trying to decode simple words, so . Sometimes he likes to use his magnet letters to make words like "HBSAMKL," which happens to spell helicopter btw. Lately his interest in letters seems to be subsiding a bit though. He's been super interested in numbers lately (he counts to twenty every chance he gets and loves negotiating for more - if I say he can have three more, he wants seven, eventually he'll settle on five. He doesn't quite get one-to-one correspondance, but he's got greater- and less-than down).

Anyway, I'm sort of hesitant to push any more pre-reading stuff for a while. I'm totally fine with him absorbing these skills at his pace. After all, he has pretty much taught himself all this stuff up to now. I'll start teaching him phonics-based stuff when he starts asking for it. Like, I think a great time to start teaching him decoding skills would be when he asks what a word says. Before he demonstrates that interest, I'm not going to bring it up.
illinoismommy's Avatar illinoismommy
01:56 PM Liked: 0
#8 of 8
02-10-2007 | Posts: 832
Joined: Apr 2006
I tihnk you should smile, relax, and just keep talking letters with him. My 2 1/2 year old is just the same, knows most of the alphabet on site and what words might go with it "M like mommy" and can count.... I haven't been teaching him in the strict sense either, just when I see an M he asks what it is, I tell. And something else.... Leap Frog Letter Factory DVD.... he loves it. It does the phonics and the letters.
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