What Order To Teach The Alphabet

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In early childhood education, teaching the alphabet is a fundamental skill that lays the foundation for reading and writing.  However, the order in which the letters are taught can greatly impact a child's learning progress.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of teaching the alphabet in a particular order, provide practical tips on how to effectively teach letter sounds, and suggest activities and resources that you can do now to support your child's learning journey.

And keep reading for our free download!

WHY is there a suggested order for teaching the alphabet?

The alphabet letters are the code (of the print).  Knowing the sounds they represent gives the key to the code.

It would seem logical to start with the letter A and steadily work your way through the alphabet to the letter Z.  And, some people do successfully teach the letter names/sounds in alphabetic order.

However, there are some convincing reasons why you might consider another approach. Here are some of them:

  • If you teach letter names/sounds that are commonly used first, then children can immediately start to ‚Äúread‚ÄĚ (eg map, pat, cap).
  • It can be helpful to start with letter names/sounds that are pronounced easily and are more consistent in their sounds (eg s and m).
  • It can reduce confusion if letters that look similar (eg b and d, m and n) or sound similar (eg e and i) are taught separately.

What order is recommended for teaching the alphabet?

With the reasons above in mind, Carnine et al (2006) suggested teaching the alphabet in the following order:

a    m    t    s    i    f    d     r    o    g
l     h    u    c    b    n   k    v    e   w
j     p    y    T    L   M   F   D    I    G
R    C   B   N   K   V    E   W    J   P   Y
x   z   q   O    H    U    S    A    X    Z    Q

Note, this includes lower and upper case letters. We have created a FREE printable download of the Carnine order (lower case letters only). It is the same one we refer to in our specialist tutoring centre. Find the download link below.

HOW do we teach the alphabet in our specialist tutoring centre?

a woman teaching a young child the alphabet using flash cards

Most children who attend our tutoring centre, are experiencing significant difficulties learning to read. Generally, they have been at school for at least a year (or more). As a result, most will already have some alphabetic knowledge.

Because of this, the first thing we do is use the Ants in the Apple cards (print side only) to quickly assess which of the alphabet letter sounds they already know (to automaticity) and which they are yet to master. We put them into two piles (known and unknown).

The known cards are added on to the sound ring. For more details on the process, please click below for our blog - "How Flashcards Can Improve Your Child's Phonics Skills"

We then proceed to teach the remaining alphabet letter sounds, usually we follow the Carnine order.

Generally, we add one letter/sound per session.

There are times we might vary this. For example, we might add in letters that are in a child’s name or have relevance to them (as this assists the learning process and engagement). We find this method to be extremely helpful and effective.

What to do NOW?

Finishing up, there are many different ways to approach teaching the alphabet letter/sounds, but by starting with the most common and easily recognisable letters, children can quickly build a foundation for future literacy skills.

To help support your teaching efforts, be sure to download our FREE resource and browse our extensive collection of language and literacy resources, which can provide additional tools and materials for helping young learners master the alphabet.

ants in the apple alphabet cards

We would love to hear your experiences teaching children the alphabet letters/sounds?
Do you use the Alphabetical order, the Carnine order or another approach?
Have you found any other methods or tips helpful?

 

Remember to save this post for future reference, and share with your teacher and parent friends. We have big plans for our blog posts. By sharing you truly help us grow.

So, thank you.

Kirstie and the Starfish team.

Bio

Kirstie Wishart M.Ed (Special Education).
Owner and founder of The Starfish Store. Kirstie’s professional life has included: teaching (in both public and private schools in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand), lecturer and subject coordinator at the University of Wollongong, Educational consultant (working with children and young people with a trauma background), OoHC Case Work Manager, and Specialist Tutor (working with children and young people with significant learning difficulties and/or disabilities).

References:

Adams, Marilyn (1994) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print

Carnine, Silbert, Kame’enui, Tarver, Jungjohann (2006) Teaching Struggling and At-Risk Readers: A Direct Instruction Approach

Commonwealth of Australia (2005) National Enquiry into Literacy

Konza (2006) Teaching Children with Reading Difficulties

NSW Government Education (2017) Effective Reading Instruction in the Early Years of School

Snow, Burns and Griffin (1998) Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children

Texas Education Agency (2002) https://www.readingrockets.org/teaching/reading101-course/toolbox/alphabetic-principle


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