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You can introduce letters to young children in many ways, and for good reasons. We want them to be able to recognize letters by shape and know their names and the sounds they make so they’re ready to be confident readers. The issue is being able to do all of this within a child’s short attention span. I found that the order in which I taught letters was highly important for young children who were learning to read in multiple languages. I wanted to get these young learners up and running as quickly and confidently as possible. So, I used a specific letter order known to get young children reading successfully.

How to Start Introducing Letters to Your Child

Before teaching your child to recognize letters be sure they are ready to learn these skills. There are some key skills (such as recognizing letters) that children need before we begin introducing reading skills.

list of key skills when introducing letters

When children are ready to begin learning the letters of the alphabet, use SATPIN. To get started teaching your child letter recognition using SATPIN, you need to do four things:

  • Outline the exact order you will use
  • Choose or create a phonics program
  • Plan fun activities
  • Choose how and when you will assess your child’s progress

What is SATPIN?

SATPIN is a specific order in which the letters of the alphabet can be taught. Many believe that children need to learn the letters in alphabetical order, but that simply is not the case! Learning the letters in alphabetical order does nothing really to help young children learn how to read. What they need is to be able to recognize letters by shape and associate the sounds for each letter. That’s what gets young readers moving quickly. Children who are taught using SATPIN order are able to read 10 words before having to learn the rest of the alphabet! That’s how powerful this simple trick is for your child.

Tips for Success When Introducing Letters with SATPIN

Tip #1 Planning is the key to this approach. It mostly requires you to change how you view the alphabet. When you are teaching your child, keep in mind that the letters of the alphabet serve the purpose of written communication. A great addition to a lesson or game is singing alphabet songs. However, a child being able to sing alphabet songs has little impact on them having purpose-written communication.

Tip #2 Once you have wrapped your head around using the SATPIN order, go ahead and choose a supportive phonics program. I’ve had good luck with Jolly Phonics

Tip#3 How will you track your child’s progress? This is very important. Child-friendly assessment and tracking will help you know exactly which letters your child may be struggling with. Using a pre-assessment is recommended to figure out what your child already knows. Sometimes young children will surprise you with what they know and what gaps they have.

Tip #4 Fun-filled activities are your friend! Make sure that you plan fun-filled activities to teach letter recognition. Teaching letters using SATPIN is only the approach and so it’s very flexible. You can help your child learn the letters by shape and associated sound by inserting various fun activities.

Common Questions/FAQ About Introducing Letters to Children

  • Should you teach upper or lowercase letters first?

    Though it seems logical to teach uppercase letters first, most text is written in lowercase letters. So if you had to choose, introduce lowercase letters first especially if you are also teaching how to write the letters.

  • How do I get my child to recognize letters?

    Make sure your child sees print in their environment daily. Point out text whenever possible and natural and make learning letters fun

  • How do you teach uppercase and lowercase letters?

    There are many ways to teach upper and lowercase letters. Using alphabet puzzles are a great way for children to see both the upper and lowercase shape of each letter. Sensory bin activities are also a great way for children to explore upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

  • What is the best way to teach preschoolers the alphabet?

    The best way to teach preschoolers the alphabet is through hands-on activities. Daily exposure through play-based activities allows children to begin to learn the shape and sounds of the letters of the alphabet without stress. The less they equate letters with stressful emotions, the more likely they are to be interested in learning the pre-reading skills they need.

  • When should children be able to recognize letters?

    Most children between 3 and 4 years old will begin to recognize letters, with the majority knowing all letters by age 5.

  • Which phonics should I teach first?

    SATPIN is the best order for getting your child reading quickly, so S would be the first sound introduced.


The Last Thing You Need to Know about Introducing Letters with SATPIN

Introducing letters to your child should be a natural progression if you keep print visible in their environment. Your little one will be ready to recognize letters if you refer to print on cereal boxes or read recipes to raise their print awareness. Overall, if you want them to have a smooth transition from merely recognizing to reading, strongly consider using the SATPIN order when introducing letters.

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