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The Importance of Alphabet Learning
July 12, 2002

"Never fear shadows. They simply mean there's a light shining somewhere nearby." —Ruth E. Renkel


Even before literacy became the "hot topic" among politicians, NAEYC published an insightful and practical book on literacy by Judith Schickedanz, Much More Than the ABC's: The Early Stages of Reading and Writing, (to order, go to www.naeyc.org). In the book Schickedanz discussed alphabet learning...

"Learning the alphabet is an essential part of early learning about literacy...Distinguishing between letters and learning their names is not all there is to 'learning the alphabet.' Knowing how alphabet letters function in writing and knowing specific letter-sound associations are crucial. Otherwise, children cannot use the letter-name knowledge they have.

"Teachers can provide a range of activities to help children learn about the alphabet. Some of this learning can take place in the context of broad experiences. Other opportunities for learning can be provided through specific alphabet materials such as puzzles and matching games. If specific alphabet materials are just one part of a total literacy program, children will enjoy using these materials because they will know to which experiences in the world they relate. It is only when alphabet teaching takes place in a narrow, linear, 'skills-first' program that children find learning about the alphabet tedious and meaningless. This can happen, for example, if the language arts or reading program consists of studying one letter each week for an entire preschool or kindergarten school year, or of writing one letter repeatedly each day, on a workbook page. However, there is no need to approach alphabet learning in these ways; many better options exist."

We can take a few more volunteers to serve on the Exchange Panel of 300. This is the advisory group for Child Care Information Exchange that we poll several times a year for ideas and perspectives on current issues. To join the panel, go to http://mail.ccie.com/survey/index.php.


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