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Written Language: Practical Ideas for Parents

Preschoolers who are getting ready to read expand their knowledge of the building blocks of oral and written language, and their use and appreciation of language. Learn activities parents can use at home to support children's growth in each of these areas.

Children who enter school able to name and identify the letters of the alphabet usually have an easier time learning to read. Being able to call out letter names quickly and easily is important. Children will also learn to use letters to write their names, other words, and simple messages.

  • Sing the alphabet song with your children as they play with alphabet books, blocks, and magnetic letters.
  • Help your children learn to identify the letters in alphabet books.
  • Play alphabet games: Take turns with your children in naming a favorite food for letters of the alphabet. Have them tell you girls' names that begin with certain letters in the alphabet (for example, Jennifer begins with the letter J). Do the same with boys' names.
  • Have your children say the alphabet as they jump a rope, ride a seesaw, push back and forth on a swing, or go up and down the stairs.
  • Encourage your children to cut out letters from the headlines of newspapers and put the letters in alphabetical order.
  • Ask your children to take a page from a magazine, newspaper, or catalog and draw a circle around a letter. Have them identify the letter and circle some matching letters on the page.
  • Put cornmeal or sand in a cake pan or on a cookie sheet. Say a letter and have your children draw the letter in the cornmeal or sand.
  • Provide your children with pencils, crayons, and paper so that they can learn to write individual letters and gradually learn to write their names.


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Adapted from: Beginning Reading Instruction: Practical Ideas for Parents. (1996). Texas Education Agency.

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"Writing is thinking on paper. " — William Zinsser