Alphabet Knowledge: Why Take the Time to Teach Letter Names?

by Dawn Durham

There is a long history of research supporting the predictability of letter naming knowledge in regards to later reading success. Since the 1960’s, research findings have shown that letter naming predicts later reading achievement. Preschool through kindergarten children with poor letter naming knowledge are more likely to struggle with learning to read and are more likely to be classified as having a reading disability. We know that difficulty with letter recognition has shown to compromise early reading development.

What does this mean for classroom application? There are some guiding principles to keep in mind when teaching alphabet knowledge.

a. Use a multisensory approach. Connect the learning to multiple senses to create a stronger neuronal pathway in the brain.
b. Be thoughtful about the sequence of letter introduction.
c. Frequent distributed practice is more impactful than long, infrequent opportunities for learning and growth.
d. If we want our students to be automatic with letter naming, then we need to teach to automaticity.

As a teacher, we want to ensure that we are incorporating practices into our classroom that are purposeful and will help to achieve our objective. Below are two links that will assist teachers with these practices for alphabet knowledge.

  • Quick Pick – a short video training on alphabet knowledge including multiple instructional practices that you can turn around and use immediately in the classroom setting.
    Quick Pick_Alphabet Knowledge
  • Neuhaus Education Center – link to a video from Neuhaus Education Center as a model for how to teach multisensory letter introduction.
    Neuhaus Edecation Center
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