Learning the ABCs: does my toddler need to master them before preschool?

Does my toddler need to know the abcs

Society pressures us into believing that our littlest children need to be learning their ABCs before they ever set foot in preschool. But is it necessary or even developmentally appropriate?ย 

learning the abcs before preschool

*The post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!*

Let’s talk learning the ABCS

There is so much pressure for toddlers to know their letters before they enter preschool. But (๐˜ข) ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ (๐™—) ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™™๐™ค ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช ๐™๐™š๐™ก๐™ฅ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฉ๐™ค๐™™๐™™๐™ก๐™š๐™ง ๐™ก๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™ฃ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š๐™ข?

Let this sink in: ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—”๐—•๐—–๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ท๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฎ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ด๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜. Gา‰Aา‰Sา‰Pา‰!า‰!

Read that again and really rest in that thought: recognizing the alphabet is a skill in memorizing symbols and are NOT A MAKE OR BREAK PRESCHOOL SKILL.

Your toddler is learning to memorize symbols – symbols that he probably isn’t developmentally ready to create (most of them). Developmentally, it is normal for your child not to be able to form slanted lines (like in A or K) until they areย four years old. That doesn’t mean many kids don’t do it earlier – it is just not developmentally ‘behind’ until after 4 years old.ย 

Before a toddler needs to start memorizing letters, make sure they recognize general shapes. After that, we can start to approach letter learning, with no pressure. No pressure on you and no pressure on your child – easy, take-it-as-it-comes, and make it fun!

And guess what? If they turn three, head to preschool, and still don’t know their letters,ย that’s okay.ย Children are ready to learn different skills at different times, and there is still so much time. Don’t let society and mom guilt force you into believing otherwise.ย 

So how should we approach the alphabet and learning the ABCs with our toddlers?


๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต. Embed the alphabet in fun, simple motor/social activities and youโ€™ll find your child will naturally take on letter knowledge.ย 

Need some ideas? (๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ญ๐˜บ, ๐˜ต๐˜ฉa๐˜ตโ€™๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜บ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถโ€™๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ!)


poke a dot book for learning abcs

โœจRead. Read. Read.

This will always be my no. 1 recommendation. You can point out letters and sounds as you read, especially in alphabet books. One of my favorite alphabet books is Pop! An Eye-Spy Alphabet. This book has the sensory and tactile feel from popping the bubble for each letter. And there are lots of things on each page for each sound, so you can pop it, say A” says ‘aaa’ like apple and alligator,” or have them look for items as they get more knowledgeable.ย 

You can even talk alphabet while you’re reading any book at all. Let’s say you’re reading one of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books. As you read, you can just casually say, “Hey! Pigeon’s name starts with P -ppp!” and move on. It doesn’t have to be a discussion; just a brief exposure.ย 

โœจMake art:

Write a big letter on a full size piece of paper with a marker or pencil. Let your toddler trace it over and over with every color of the rainbow.ย 

toddler with alphabet ABCs board

โœจPlay with a tactile alphabet board like this one.

The metal balls provide a fabulous tactile experience and it is so much fun. Camโ€™s 6 and 8 year old cousins even love it!

โœจSing the alphabet song while your toddler does an active skill:

For example, jumping or walking on a line of painters tape. See how far in the alphabet they can make it. Say โ€˜๐˜Ž๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ซ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ! ๐˜ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜Ž! ๐˜Ž ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ!’ If you want, you can write the letter with sidewalk chalk or on a whiteboard. Then do it again with another skill. Some ideas: jumping, walking, hopping, hopping on one foot, doing the crab walk, bear walk, etc.ย 

โœจLetter stomp:

Write each letter of the alphabet (start with the letters in their name and add more when they recognize those) on a different piece of paper. Lay them on the ground. Say โ€˜Cโ€™ and invite them to stomp on the C. Repeat with all the letters for as long as your toddler acts interested. You can pick up each letter after they stomp on it, or leave it on the ground for extra practice.ย 

Whatever you do, make it fun. Research proves that kids learn much faster through play than through just listening or rote memorization. Get them involved and you’ll be amazed at what they can do! What are your favorite ways to encourage alphabet recognition?


*A shorter version of this post was originally posted on my Instagram first. If you want more toddler activities, tips, and just fun mom life stuff, come join me over at my Biscuits and Grading IG!*

You Might Also Like


  1. pamelabproductions

    This is so true! Thereโ€™s so much pressure out there and Iโ€™m so glad that we are advocating for teaching things to our little babies when they are actually developmentally ready!!

  2. JazminMaybell

    Love this! I’m trying to give my little ones a head start during this time at home!

  3. Caitlyn

    Such great idea’s. Now and days the earlier the better with teaching the alphabet and there’s so many great techniques to learning it. My kiddos like practicing letters in sand.

  4. Bernita

    So many great ideas!!

  5. Amanda

    Love this! Iโ€™ll definitely implement some of these ideas.

Leave a Reply

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons