I often get asked this question a lot and the short answer is, whenever they start to show an interest.
For many, literacy usually starts from around 3 years old, however some children show an interest sooner and some a little later so it’s entirely up to you if you want to encourage and support them at that stage or wait until they start pre-school or nursery.
Activities & resources to support learning
You’ll notice children will start to show an interest in words in books as well as within the environment around them, such as words on signs or posters. They will then start to recognise familiar words such as their own name and logos.
If you wish to support your child’s learning there are a few ways you can do so, without it being too overwhelming. Often, because they really are still young, they will have lots of opportunities to learn more once they start school, so please don’t feel pressured.
Writing mats are a great activity to start working on pen control and tripod grip. Children will often see you writing and want to copy. By introducing a writing mat they can start to understand why and how we learn to write but in a fun and exciting way.
Alphabet flashcards are also a great activity to start getting children to recognise letters and what they are and mean.
Children will often learn to sing the alphabet song and will know it off by heart, however at this stage they don’t really know the meaning of the song until they are at an age of understanding what the alphabet really is and how it works.
In fact, my alphabet flashcards don’t have pictures because to start with a child is only learning what a letter is and recognising the shapes of the letters.
Eventually they will learn what the letter ‘a’ looks like and that’s all they need to know in the beginning. From there, we can add in the pictures, for example, ‘b’ would have a picture of a bear. Children will then already know what a ‘b’ looks like but then they will learn that ‘b is for bear’ and so on.
Flashcards are a really exciting tool to have at home, in their bag and in the car so that if they want to have a look through them, they can at any given opportunity. I think a really great starting point with learning the alphabet is learning how to recognise their first name, the letters within their name and in which order.
Generally the first letter they learn to recognise it the first letter of their first name. Once they’ve learnt what that letter is you’ll notice they will see a word and say ‘that letter is in my name’. They will get really excited that they’ve recognised that letter and that really does deserve some praise!
You can then start to encourage your child to link sounds and letters to enable them to begin to learn to read and write.
There are no set timings. It’s very important to understand that children develop at their own rates and stages.
Development ages and stages are set out in a specific order as a guide however, it shouldn’t be assumed as necessary steps for individual children.
Theses ages and stages are not checklists and they overlap because they are not a fixed boundary, they are suggestions on a range of development. Children should never be compared to others because each child is individual and will learn at their own rate, even siblings.
Support children through their creative minds and they will be the very best version of their individual selves.
If you need any help or support please get in touch with me via my bloss expert page