There is something to be said about a young child and their innate ability to soak up knowledge like a wet sponge. A few months ago I posted this cute little video on Facebook showcasing Brecken's alphabet skills. After the video was posted I got a number of questions on how he learned letter recognition out of sequential order.
Quite frankly, I can't take the credit. Brecken is obsessed with books and drawing so any knowledge that he has gained he has learned all on his own. His drive for knowledge makes this lady one proud Momma, I'm sure we can all agree that when our children finally master a skill or task it is kind of like having them win a Pulitzer Prize. I too, gush over my own child's achievements, which I think is an A+ perk of raising little hellions.
So here's the skinny with a small this disclaimer. This post is in no way meant to... dare I say brag? Because I really felt like I was entering no-man's land when it came helping my son. As parents we were so worried about Brecken's learning because of multiple factors working against him--premature, boy, high rate of autism, delayed hearing and speech, we knew we needed to be extra cautious and mindful about his learning. Because of his slow start with his verbal communication we basically created a learning environment that was tailored around his specific needs--and hopefully our somewhat "tried and proven" method can work for you as well if your child is struggling to speak or learn their alphabet too.
Initially, Brecken was having a difficult time talking, in part to tubes being put in his ears when he turned one. Because of his difficulty in hearing during his first year his speech was delayed. Our initial reaction was to start speech therapy, but after hours of discussing our options we decided to give him until the age of two to catch up.
His second birthday came and went and his was still not speaking coherently to the depth that the doctors wanted. While speech therapy was still an option we decided to spend more time focusing on his speech at home, with the hope that a change would occur. During this time my cousin turned me on to a PBS cartoon called Super Why.
Not only did Super Why engage Brecken and catch his attention for a complete twenty minute period, but it also taught him the alphabet basics, sounds of letters, word recognition, and rhyming. It was a win-win for both of us--I was able to get household chores completed while Brecken watched a show that was actually educational.
After some point soon after his choice of books also began to change. We moved away from the hardbound cardboard baby books to beginning reader books such as Dr. Seuss's ABC's. Before I knew it I had bought additional copies to put in the car, my purse, and in his room. His toy of choice turned out to be a book which was great, but required me to be reading to him constantly. After a long day where it seemed like I had read for eight hours straight I decided that while I loved that his was learning I needed to get additional materials that would allow him to learn on his own as well.
Thus alphabet flashcards entered our world. In the beginning I would quiz him and go through each letter in chronological order, soon after I realized he would say the letter of the next card before I flipped it over. At this time I began to shuffle the cards and voila he began to recognize individual letters.
Now we spend less time with the flashcards and more time writing. During the day I will often roll out butcher paper across the counter top where we will draw letters, number, shapes, and random objects for Brecken to name. Not only we were practice on the counter, but bath time has also turned into "picture time" where I will draw helicopters, balloons, kites, shapes, cakes--you name he has asked me to draw it.
Today, he has now mastered the entire alphabet to the point the "V" is no longer "movie" and "W" while no longer "double woo woo" has now become its own sentence..."double woo wooo woo woo woo." Yeah, he really likes "W." Colors, shapes, numbers, and object recognition have all been mastered through the same process---which has turned out to be constant repetition. We practice learning in the grocery store, in the car, during bath time, on the IPad, and at home--we've basically turned Brecken's entire world into an environment where he is constantly learning.
As a parent I've found that by cultivating learning into our lifestyle we've enabled Brecken to find within himself a desire to learn--a quality I hope he will continue to exhibit throughout his life. My best suggestion to anyone who is wanting to start to learn the alphabet is create an environment where they are hearing, seeing, and writing the letters constantly--whether it be through an educational television or flash cards an environment needs to cultivated that allows them to learn through multiple avenues.
Thanks for stopping in and if you have any tried and proven methods that have worked I would love to hear about them as well!
As a special treat here are a few of our favorite learning tools. And make sure to come back tomorrow to see my favorite IPad learning apps for toddlers.