After teaching for a few years in public school, then venturing down the preschool road with James, Nana, Remi and now Adam, I have learned a few things about teaching children their letters. First of all, don't fear. It's easy. It's fun. However, I believe they learn their letters best when you start from day one.
The first few months of a child's life they are learning EVERYTHING. This is the perfect opportunity to begin teaching them their letters. At first, letters are abstract objects, like shapes, and can be easily memorized at an early age. If you will point out the letters in your child's environment they will quickly begin finding them on their own. Just as you would point out a star in the book you are reading, it is also wise to point out letters.
With Adam I began with simply pointing out the letter A everywhere we went. He has A's in his room, there is an A on the Walmart sign, at the Dr's office, on the trashtruck, etc. By the time he was 12 months old he was finding A's all over town. He simply learned what the "shape" of it looked like and can find it anywhere.
When teaching a new letter, it is best to attach each letter of the alphabet with a meaningful name, object, or word. For example: A is for Adam, D is for Daddy, H is for Honey Bunny, etc. As they learn more names and objects they can learn more letters. If you will attach each letter with a person or an object then the abstract letter can become more meaningful which will help later when you begin teaching letter sounds. I will not have to work hard at all at teaching Adam letter sounds because he already knows A is for Adam and I can slowly transition into A says "ah" like Adam. Seriously it's that easy!!!
The first 3 years of a child's life are the easiest time to teach letters. Please don't think I'm crazy when I say this. It's true. They are sponges. If you have missed that window of time it's ok. Children are sponges for a very long time. Just start today pointing out the meaningful letters that you see. If your child doesn't know a word or person that starts with U then skip that letter and come back to it. Once he/she masters a new letter then add another one to their list.
I add one to two letters at a time to Adam's life. This week I added E for eat, P for Papa, and H for Honey Bunny. He knows the sign for eat so I say E is for eat and I sign the eating sign. When we look out the window at Honey Bunny we point to his letter. Sometimes Adam finds an H in the playroom and then goes to the window to show Honey Bunny.
Here is a video of one of Adam's letter tubs. He simply has to match the foam letter to the written letter. I started this tub months and months ago and he would just have an A for Adam and a M for Momma. Each time he gets really good at those I add another letter.
Letters can be learned easily if you just start talking about them. Point them out, play with letter stickers, write letters in front of your child, play letter games, find them on billboards, find them on menus, etc. Start now with attaching each letter with a meaningful name or object and I guarantee you it will be a piece of cake to teach your child the sounds each letter makes.