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Teach Your Child to Read Series

Teach My Child to Read… Learning the Alphabet

Teach Your Child to Read Series is definitely off to a great start!  If you missed last week’s kick off, please head over and read through Teach Your Child To Read… 5 Concepts to Master Before Learning to Read.  It has all of the details for this series that I am hosting this month.

I introduced the 5 Concepts to Master Before Learning to Read last week, and this week we are going to cover in detail the first concept, Learning the Alphabet and HOW to teach the alphabet.  I am including tons of resources and activities that you can utilize to teach the alphabet to your child.  So, what are we waiting for… let’s get started!

How to Teach Your Child

In order to learn to read, your child must first know the alphabet.  In the beginning of learning the alphabet, your child might forget some of the letters or even mix them up and that is 100% okay.  The goal is not perfection, but instead, over time and with continued education from you, your child will slowly stop mixing up the letters.  It could be a slow progression, which means it is important for you to not become frustrated or to expect perfection.  As the teacher, you need to recognize that young children often learn & retain the most when taught through play, dance, music, and art.  And lastly, please remember this is not a one-time lesson, but instead; something that needs to be continued until the child has mastered learning the alphabet.

It is also critical for you to recognize the way your child learns.  Do they have a long attention span?  Do they prefer doing one type of activity over another?  Are they able to sit at a table for 15-20 minutes?  The reason knowing the answers to these questions is important is because it will affect which activities you decide to do with your child.  At this point, you’re just going to have to use trial and error to find what works best for you and your child.  And don’t forget to get creative!  If you don’t see something on this list and you think it would be a great way to teach the ABC’s to your child… USE IT!  You are the most knowledgable person when it comes to your child and what will work and what will not work… don’t forget that!

Activities to Teach & Reinforce the ABC’s

Sing the ABC’s

  1. I started singing the ABC’s to my kiddos when they were babies. When I rocked them, when they were fussy, and when they were done riding in the car and we still had an hour left in the road trip.  We also played various songs that sung the ABC’s as well as songs that included the alphabet.
  2. A quick search on any music service or YouTube generally supplies a pretty large list of a variety of ABC songs.

Read Books about the ABC’s

  1. If your child is hesitant about having you read, you could always try letting them select the book that you’re going to read. If that doesn’t work, maybe try sitting with them to just look at the picture and discuss what they think is happening in the book.  You could even go as far as creating your own story with your child using the pictures as a guide while still learning about the alphabet.  Create a story out of the pictures in the book and include your child into the story… kiddos love to be part of things!
  2. Now, I know some kiddos just don’t like to sit still and listen to stories, so I would suggest trying audio books. You can listen to them in the car or put them on at bedtime when the kids are getting ready to go to sleep.  Some exposure is better than none.
  3. One big thing I would suggest when selecting books to read is to be sure to get ones that have great pictures, books that include topics that your child enjoys, and remember, it’s supposed to be fun!  Here is a list of books that both my son and daughter enjoy:

There are so many wonderful books out there that can help in learning the alphabet.  I recommend doing a search through Google or on Amazon to find what you are looking for and where to purchase it.  If you do not want to purchase the books, be sure to visit your local library, and if they do not have what you are looking for; usually the library can order it for you.

Flash Cards

  1. Using flash cards is a great way to point out each letter to your child as you’re singing the alphabet. It allows your child to recognize the connection between singing the song and how the letters look.


  1. Alphabet Kids’ Floor Puzzle

Arts & Crafts (also helps with fine motor control)

  1. Print out each letter of the alphabet. Then once a day, select a letter and do some art with it.  You can have your child decorate the letter using paint, finger paint, markers, crayons, or you can have your child glue various items to the letter (beads, sequins, stickers, etc.).  Not only are you helping them to learn that specific letter, but they are also getting exposure to different art mediums, developing fine motor control, as well as getting to express themselves creatively.  I suggest you keep each letter and use them as reference to reinforce the learning.


  1. Alphabet Yoga – ABC for Me:  ABC Yoga:  Join us and the animals out in nature and learn some yoga by Christiane Engel – This is a great book that you can use to not only learn the alphabet, but to get some yoga in.
  2. Go on a nature walk and find items that you can make into the shape of the letters of the alphabet.
  3. Melissa & Doug Building Blocks ABC/123.  As you play with your child, say the letter on the block and show the child as they are using it to build.
  4. Seasame Street Elmo’s on the Go Letters
  5. Vtech Alphabet Apple
  6. LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set
  7. Foam Fun Alphabet Letters and Numbers for Bathtub Education

Please remember, you do not need to purchase things to teach your child the alphabet.  However, you can browse the things I’ve suggested and find ways to use things you already have at home to teach your child the alphabet.

Cartoons & iPad, iPhone, Computers

  • ABC Kids – Tracing & Phonics (app)
  • Super Why Story Readers (cartoon on Netflix)
  • Leapfrog Letter Factory (cartoon on Netflix)
  • ABC Mouse (online subscription)

A quick search on whatever service you use, will pull up suggestions.  A few guidelines I would follow are making sure to limit the amount of screen time, don’t solely rely on this to educate your child, and make sure it is age/rated appropriately.

Reading is such an important concept for a child to learn to be successful in their education.  The majority of today’s information and communication is processed through reading, thus teaching your child to read is a necessary component to their overall success.  Depending on your child’s age and attention span, I would recommend starting simple and adding additional activities as you see fit.  Please keep in mind how long each activity you do with your child is, and that it matches your child’s attention span.  This will help you from overwhelming your child with new information and also (hopefully) prevent disinterest in learning the alphabet. REMEMBER to KEEP it FUN!


Happy Learning,



Teach Your Child to Read Series
5 Concepts to Master before teaching your child to read

Teach Your Child To Read Series

Happy summer, folks!  I am so excited about warmer days, outside playing, and late night s’mores with the kiddos.  Summer is also a time for later bedtimes, letting the rules get a little slack, and focusing more on having fun than what needs to be accomplished in a day.  However, summertime is also a time to help better prepare kids for the upcoming school year (whatever that may look like).  So, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to introduce my fun & FREE reading series… Teach Your Child to Read.

Teach Your Child to Read Series

How do I teach my child to read?  This is a start-to-finish guide to teach your child to read.  It will include concepts to teach your child prior to learning to read, and how to teach those concepts.  Links will be provided to activities for your child to do to help strengthen what they are learning.  I will share a reading program that I love, reading lists for your child to encourage reading practice, and tips & tricks to get your kiddo excited about reading.

This series is perfect for the child that does not know how to read, to the child that is struggling to read, to the child that reads fluently, but would like continued practice. It is also perfect for every type of parent that is out there.  I will provide easy to follow instructions, provide tips & tricks to being successful, all while being simple and fun!  I truly feel the majority of children at all different ages and levels can benefit from this series.

We will kick off this reading series by first focusing on what a child should know prior to learning to read.

5 Concepts to Master before Learning to Read

  1. Know the Alphabet… it’s a must!

It is vital for your child to know the alphabet in order to learn to read.  A great tool to use to start the learning of the alphabet is the ABC’s song.  Even if they miss a letter here or there or mix up some of the letters, this is a start to a great foundation for learning to read.

Here is a link to a YouTube video with the ABC song to get you started!

ABC Song

If your child does not know their ABC’s and you are not quite sure how to teach them, please look for the next article in this series where I explain with examples and provide activities to do to help you teach your child their ABC’s.

  1. Letter Recognition

Letter recognition is the ability to hear a letter and identify what that letter looks like without assistance.  You should be able to show a letter to your child and they should be able to identify it. Make sure you are not asking the child to identify letters of the alphabet in order of the ABC’s, because they might answer out of memorization rather than actually recognizing the letter.

  1. Upper Case vs. Lower Case Letters

Just like it is important for your child to know their ABC’s prior to learning to read, it is just as important for them to know what lower case letters look like and how they are the same as their upper case letter.  This also creates the foundation for writing sentences later.

  1. Be able to Write the Alphabet

It is important for your child to have exposure to how to write, as well as learning how to properly write each letter of the alphabet.

  1. Understand the Concept of Reading

This is a big one guys!  The foundation of reading is based on seeing a letter and understanding that letter makes a sound.  When you combine letters to make a word, you can then learn how to sound out that word… thus allowing you to read.

Whew…  Let’s just say I am incredibly excited to be able to share some pointers to help your kids learn to read!  I love reading and being able to pass these skills on to children is so important to me.  I don’t want to see any child struggle, especially if there are ways to make it easier for them.  I also love helping you learn how to teach your child.

Cheers to Summer Reading,







15 Tips for Picking the Perfect Summer Program

15 Tips for Picking Your Child’s Perfect Summer Program

I can’t believe I am already typing this post… where has the time gone?  I swear it was just Christmas.  However, I will admit, after the amount of rain we have had this winter, I am ready and willing to welcome the summer.  School is almost out, which means it is time to pick a summer childcare program for your kiddos.  This always seems easier than it is.  There is so much to consider when picking a perfect summer program for your child.  I decided, as a previous director of a child development center, I would put my experience and knowledge to work and give you my best tips for picking the perfect summer program.  Here are my 15 Tips for Picking Your Child’s Perfect Summer Program:

1.  Program or Facility Licensing

Is the facility you are enrolling your child in licensed by the State?  This is important, because the State ensures things are being conducted the way they are being presented to you.  The State also verifies certifications, background checks, and ensures that the program or facility is following the required rules.

It is important to note that each state is different and so it is important for you to understand the laws for your state.  For example, in my state, a program running three months or less does not have to be licensed.  This means nobody is checking on the facility to ensure it is safe, if the instructors are qualified or background checked, or that child to teacher ratios are being followed.  Does this mean you shouldn’t enroll your child?  No, but it should be another item of consideration.

Another thing to consider is if the summer program’s location has required fire and health inspections. Again, depending on your state, often licensed programs are required to have fire and sanitation inspections every year.

2.  Background Checks

Is everyone working at the program required to be background checked?  Does this include parent helpers, volunteers, janitors, and maintenance workers?  Or is it only those who directly work with your child?

3.  Staff Certifications

What type of certifications are required of the staff (including volunteers)?  Are staff required to have their food handler’s card?  What type of education is required to run the program?  Is any continued education required to maintain their position?

4.  CPR/First Aid

Is CPR/First Aid training a requirement?  Does each staff member have to have CPR/First Aid training?  Does this include parent helpers or volunteers?  If so, what type of training does this include… infant, child/adult or just one or the other?

5.  Costs & Payments

Nobody wants to put a price on their child, but the reality is it takes money to run a program and you generally (there are always exceptions) need to pay for your child to attend.  So, are you able to afford it?  If so, how do you pay for it?  Are their payment due dates?  Does the cost need to be paid all up front?  Are there incentives to pay ahead or in a lump sum?

These are important questions, because you don’t want to lose your spot due to a lack of knowledge, nor do you want to rack up late fees for not knowing the due dates.  I always recommend asking about discounts.  Worst case scenario is they say no… however, they could say yes and save you some money!

5.  Snacks and Meals

Who is responsible for providing the snacks and lunches?  If the program provides any, what type of food is it?  Is it an additional cost?  What times are the snacks provided and when do the children usually eat lunch?

These may seem like silly questions, but if your child is used to eating every two hours and the program has a bigger gap, it is something to consider.  Maybe you still enroll, but work with the program director to ensure your child has access to snacks if they get hungry.

6.  Child to Adult Ratios

What is the child to adult ratio?  Does this ratio account for volunteers?  Are there times during the day that the ratio can change?

It is important to note that ratios are mandated for licensed programs by the state that I live in.  For example, for infants we had 1 adult to 4 infants.  You could always have more adults to the 4 infants, but never more infants to the 1 adult.  Also, the ratios changed if age groups were mixed or if children were sleeping during nap times.

No matter where you live or what your state requires, it is best to know and understand how the program works so you know what type of care your child is receiving as well as what you are paying for.

7.  Age Groups

Will my child be placed in a group according to age or will it be based on something else?  What is the age span of the kids in the program?  Are there times that the groups are mixed together?  If so, for what length of time?

8.  Discipline

What form of discipline does the program practice?  As the parent, do you agree and support this type of discipline?  Does your child need any extra type of care when it comes to disciplining?  If so, this would be an incredibly important topic to discuss with the program director prior to enrolling.

9.  Schedule & Closure Dates

Are there days that the program will be closed?  Are you being charged for those closure dates?  Also, what time of day does the program open and what time does the program close?

I would highly suggest getting a calendar of the closure dates so you can be sure you have them marked on your family calendar.  It is also important to know how early you can drop your child off and how late you can pick them up.  Some programs will charge a late fee if you don’t pick up your child by a certain time.  You also don’t want to repeatedly frustrate the staff by being late, because that means they don’t get to go home on time.  Ain’t nobody happy when that happens!

10.  Education vs. Playschool & Screen Time

Is it an educational program or is it more of a play school environment?  Is there screen time allowed?  If so, for how long?

At my facility, we did not have any screen time allowed other than the day before a holiday, which was a special treat.  We usually had some type of party with treats and fun holiday focused activities and then we would maybe watch a movie.  This only applied to the older children, not the babies.  However, screen time on a day to day basis was not allowed.

This means you need to decide what you are looking for in a program.  Is screen time okay with you?

11.  Facility Safety

Is the program you are enrolling your child in a safe building and is it an adequate environment?  Do they have appropriate toys and an outside area for your child?  Are there enough bathrooms and do they have the appropriate supplies needed to run a program?

These are all questions to consider when selecting your child’s summer program.  Some of these may seem obvious, but you might be surprised when looking for your child’s perfect summer program.

12.  Parent Responsibility

As the parent, do you have any additional responsibilities to the summer program?  Do you have to volunteer a certain number of hours while your child is enrolled?  Are you required to provide snacks based on a rotating snack calendar?  Will you be expected to help with field trips?

I can’t stress this enough… it is very important to know and understand your side of the agreement when you enroll your child in a program.  The more you know and understand, the less likely there will be an issue down the road.

13.  Supplies

Are you responsible for buying supplies (art supplies, paper, glue, pencils, markers, etc.) for your child to attend?  If so, when do they need to be purchased?

14.  Field Trips & Transportation

Will there be any field trips?  If so, what type of transportation will be provided?  What type of supervision will be on the field trip?  Are there additional costs for the field trip?

15.  Does your Child Like it?

I know this seems like a silly question to consider, but I cannot stress how important it truly is.  Your child is going to be spending a lot of time at this summer program, and if they don’t like it, I highly doubt it is going to work… no matter how perfect the program is!

I realize the above list seems long and overwhelming, but it’s a big deal leaving your child in someone else’s care.  It is important for you and your child to feel comfortable, and that you know your child is being left in a safe and loving environment.  Knowledge is power!

Cheers to summer!

15 Tips for Picking Your Child's Perfect Summer Program