Teaching kids about alphabets and numbers involves patience. For a toddler, learning numbers and letters can be quite intimidating. But, given their natural curiosity, you can spark your kid's interest by engaging him in fun and hands-on educational activities. He'll be eager to learn!
Parents often worry about their toddlers learning alphabets and numbers. But there are many games, websites, gadgets and books– interactive or otherwise – parents have plenty of options to choose from. While each has its merits, there are also simple ways of going about it especially when starting off. If you can find a way of teaching numbers and letters in everyday activities, your child will not only learn easily but will also remember them better.
Teaching Numbers and Letters to Toddlers Made Easy
Teaching the Alphabet:
Get your child started on his ‘ABC’s with the following alphabet activities for toddlers!
Introduce the alphabet to your child by making him learn the first letter of his name.
Rhymes are an excellent way to build an understanding of alphabets. Start by singing the ‘ABC’ song, which kids love to sing and repeat.
Get a bag of alphabet magnets and use them in teaching alphabets to your 24-month-old toddler.
Read alphabet books out loud. Even if he doesn’t understand it initially, he’ll come to enjoy these sessions. Repeat reading the books till he begins to learn the alphabet.
Draw your kid’s attention to alphabets around your house and outside such as on cereal boxes, toys and shops.
Another tip for how you can teach letters to your toddler is to have alphabet colouring sessions using an alphabet colouring book. Use bright crayons to hold his interest even more.
Teaching numbers to preschoolers is also as easy as teaching letters. It should be more fun instead of a rote learning exercise. These number activities for toddlers will serve the purpose!
Introduce nursery rhymes that involve numbers and counting. A couple of popular ones are Five Little Monkeys and Ten Little Indians. Hold up your fingers to represent the numbers and your child will slowly learn what they represent.
When taking a stroll or a drive, point out numbers on road signs, mailboxes and shop numbers.
After playtime, count the toys as you put them back into the toy box. This is a small, routine number activity for your toddler that you can do every day.
Involve your child when counting the number of clothing items that you plan to wash. Encourage him to count his own clothes too.
When shopping at a store, get your child to pick 5 apples or 3 packets of his favourite biscuits. It’s a great way to teach toddlers to count and also gives them a sense of responsibility.
How to Teach Alphabets and Numbers to Toddlers with Autism
Autism is a serious developmental disorder, which impairs the child’s ability to communicate, interact, and form relationships with other people. When it comes to matters like learning, attention, and understanding too, autism does affect the child’s development. Keep in mind though, that autism doesn’t impair the child’s ability to learn; it only affects his way of learning. Being that his thought process is wired differently than that of other children, it is only appropriate that teaching methods are tailored to his needs.
A lot of autistic children can be visual/auditory thinkers, which means that they think better in pictures and sounds, rather than words. There are also children who respond better to objects, making them tactile learners who understand through touching and doing. Thus, apt strategies need to be followed to teach each child in a way that helps him process information.
Here are certain general tips to keep in mind while teaching your autistic child:
Using Direct Instruction: The child is given exact instructions regarding what he has to do, and there are sequential steps to follow. When you’re teaching your child on a daily basis, review what was learnt the previous day to help him remember and retain that information. Introduce a single new learning thereafter and then review the new learning as well.
Rewarding His Progress: Simple words of praise and encouragement such as “Good job!”, “Great!”, etc. can go a long way in developing your child’s self-esteem. It helps keep them motivated to learn as well.
Having Patience: Remember that the teaching process, especially building the basics for your child, can present itself to be a tedious, uphill task. It’s important to remember to take it slow and wait for results to show. Having patience with yourself and your child makes a world of a difference.
As mentioned earlier, autistic children exhibit different traits when it comes to their style of learning. Depending on his learning style, which differs from child to child, you can use various aids to help him with learning his alphabets and numbers.
For Visual Learners: For visual learners, you can tell the child to point to a letter or a number in a book, and have him mention which letter or number it is. You can also place cutouts of uppercase and lowercase letters on the table and ask the child to form pairs - for example, match the uppercase ‘B’ to the lowercase ‘b’. Another method you can try is a combination of visual and kinesthetic techniques, which is to place cutouts of numbers from 1 to 10 in a non-sequential order, in front of the child. Once he is able to place these numbers in order, go further ahead with the numbers (i.e. 1 to 20).
For Auditory Learners: If you find that your child responds better to sounds, loudly reciting the number or letter can make a better impression on him. You can sing the alphabet song to him on a daily basis, till he is able to sing it back to you. Additionally, you can have the alphabet displayed in front of him and have him point to each letter as it comes up in the song.
For Tactile Learners: Effective techniques for tactile learners can be tracing out letters and numbers in sand or rice. You can bury cutouts of letters in piles of plastic balls, or rice, or soothing textures, and have the child pull out a letter and recognise the same. Allowing your child to choose his favourite textured surface increases his interest.
Apps to Teach ABCs and 123s to Toddlers
The following are a list of fun apps and games that you can use to inculcate an interest for learning in your preschoolers.
Some of the below-mentioned apps are also suitable for children with autism.
ABC Shakedown (Also suitable for children with autism): A simple app, a digital flashcard is shown with a picture and corresponding letter, along with the sound. Each letter has a sound associated with it, such as ‘zipping’ for Z or ‘bouncing a ball’ for B, that makes learning more effective. Compatible with iOS
Starfall ABCs (Also suitable for children with autism): In this app, children get to see, hear, and interact with letters at the word and sentence levels. Kids also get to play games where they match uppercase and lowercase letters, following alphabets through a maze, and so on. Compatible with iOS and Android
Learn with Rufus - Numbers (Also suitable for children with autism): This app aims to teach kids basic number skills such as number sequences (both backwards and forwards), comparing quantities (more or less) and so on. It is suitable for kids with various learning styles, abilities and skills. Compatible with iOS and Android
0-100 Kids Learn Numbers (Also suitable for children with autism): Number flashcards from 0-100 help teach kids English numbers, as they learn to count with tracing activity games and colouring books too. Compatible with Android
Endless Alphabet: With the free, light version of this app, kids can learn about letters through adorable animations and interesting puzzles. The app also helps kids develop their vocabulary. Compatible with iOS and Android
ABC Kids - Tracing And Phonics: A child-friendly app which helps young preschoolers understand letters with tracing, matching and little game-like exercises. The app also requires adult participation, which is motivational for the child while learning. Compatible with iOS and Android
Fish School – By Duck Duck Moose: An app which consists of 8 educational games, Fish School offers the opportunity to develop preschool skills. Animations of friendly fish swimming around to form the alphabet are sure to delight your little one! Compatible with iOS and Android
Kids Learning Numbers Lite: This app allows for your child to play without help from an adult and teaches him early number learning skills, such as counting, sequential order, and so on. Compatible with Android
You can also try these fun games to spark interest in your little ones!
Squirt the Letter/Number: Write a bunch of letters and numbers on a chalkboard, and keep blocks or cutouts of the same in hand (Alternatively, you can also say the letter/number out loud). Give your child the block or cutout and have him identify the letter or number on the chalkboard. Once he does, he can erase it off the board. Squirting the letter off with a water gun makes it more fun for the child!
Pop the Letter/Number: Similar to the squirting game, write out letters and numbers on each bubble of a bubble-wrap and have him pop it when he finds what you want him to!
The Race: Make cutouts of letters and numbers and leave them on the floor. Shout out an alphabet or digit and have your little one run and fetch you the corresponding cutout! This makes for a fun race if there are more than two kids participating.
Match the Toy to the Letter Sound: Gather your child’s toys and make note of the names and starting letter of each toy. Mention the letter and have your child pick up the appropriate toy and bring them to you. Start with the easiest sounds, like vowels, if your child is just starting to learn letter sounds. You will see the learning curve of your child improve as he starts to recognise different sounds for the same letter (such as ‘k’ for ‘kangaroo’ but also for ‘cat’), which provides him a learning opportunity.
Count with Objects: Write a number out on a piece of paper, and have your little one arrange the same number of legos as mentioned in front of you. You can also use beads, dice, plastic animals, or any little toys that can serve the purpose.
Watch: A Fun Counting Activity for Your Preschooler
This is a fun number game for your little ones to understand the concept of counting and sequences. All you need to do are make cutouts of triangular and circular shapes representing icecream cones and scoops. Your child can colour in the shapes to make them more interested in the game.
Each cone and scoop should have a number written on them. Line up the cone shapes in order of the numbers (eg: 1 to 10), then have the child place each scoop on the corresponding number.
You can also hide these scoops in different places and have the child find them, to make it more fun. Ensure that the game is simple enough for your little one to follow. If he is just starting out on learning numbers, numbers from 1 to 4 would be easier for him to play with.
Kids learn fast but they become more eager to when learning is fun and stimulating. This also applies to learning letters for toddlers and counting numbers. Use teaching tools like books and games to make the process much easier for your child and you. Don’t pressure him to learn by sitting him in a chair school-style and expecting him to absorb information. You need to interact with him and make it interesting. Consider this an opportunity to bond with your child as well. The happier he is, the quicker he’ll learn! Do you have any alphabet and number activities to share with us?