Five Ways I’m Teaching My Five-Year-Old His Letters & Numbers
Because we're all homeschoolers now.
It’s time to accept that I will be responsible for my child’s education this fall. While I’m confident I can master a kindergarten curriculum, I’m also completely overwhelmed at where to start. Should I embrace distance learning, or is the screen time aspect harmful to a kindergartener? Maybe I should homeschool him in the traditional sense, with less reliance on screens. Or maybe I should embrace unschooling and just teach him how to garden and fish. We live on a lake after all. How much does a kid really learn in kindergarten anyway? (This used to be a rhetorical question. Now it is one I must actually answer.)
There is SO MUCH to decide before school starts in a month, but the one thing I’m sure of is that Levon needs to continue learning his letters and numbers. While he loves to learn, he hates worksheets. Like most kids his age, he needs hands on, captivating activities in order to stay engaged. Below are the five ways he currently loves learning his letters and numbers.
Levon has learned more from $1 placemats from Michaels than from any other resource. We have placemats with letters, numbers, maps, and planets, and he spends his meal times talking to us about them all. It’s such an easy way to incorporate learning. We take turns pointing to letters, naming them, and sounding them out. He would never last 20 minutes doing this with a book, but he’s happy to study his placemat for the duration of his meal.
Melissa & Doug Alphabet and Numbers Placemats
Don’t shy away from flashcards! I picked up a few packs in the dollar bin at Target, and Levon absolutely loves them. We have cards with letters, numbers, and words for beginner readers. Before Covid, they were my go-to activity for planes and restaurants. His favorite thing about them is having my full attention while we play.
This spring, during distance learning, his teacher had each student make their own set of flashcards. It incorporated letter writing and scissor skills, in addition to letter recognition. I highly recommend the activity.
Numbers 0-100 Pocket Flash Cards
My husband is a math nerd (no really, he was on the mathlete team) and he bought a box of dice to teach number recognition and addition. It’s become one of Levon’s favorite ways to learn. Plus, if all else fails, our son can earn a living at the Craps table.
Super Z Outlet Standard 16mm Black Dice with White Pips Dots
When my sister showed up with Uno, I was worried it would be too difficult for Levon to master. I was SO wrong. Not only has he learned adult level game strategy, but his number recognition is now immediate.
UNO Classic Card Game
SONGS & POEMS
A little bit of screen time can absolutely be beneficial and educational. (School House Rock! Sesame Street!) Levon’s teacher uses Jack Hartman videos in class to reinforce letter sounds and counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. Levon loves them. He constantly sounds out words and is on the verge of reading, and he’s mastered counting to 100 by 5s and 10s before even entering kindergarten. She also uses these poems to teach number writing, and I can’t recommended them enough. Levon sings them whenever he’s struggling to remember how to write a number.
Jessica Butler is the co-founder of "Raise Magazine," stepmother of two, and adoptive mother of one. Prior to "Raise," she was a writer on USA’s "In Plain Sight" and TNT’s "The Last Ship." She and her husband, writer/producer Warren Bell, co-created the Nick at Nite series "Instant Mom," based on her life as a stepmother. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and five-year-old son, Levon.