The first time I brought flashcards home for my daughter, I was so proud of myself. As a mom, I try really hard to get my kids to eat healthy food, to get a good night's sleep, and get plenty of time outside. So flashcards seemed like a natural extension of that, especially after we went to a party one time and a two-year-old was going around yelling out all the letters he saw. I was impressed, and when I quizzed his mom on how he did it, she said, "I force him to sit down and do flashcards every day!"
This seemed totally normal to me and I was looking forward to having my daughter learn the letters like that little boy. In fact, I couldn't wait to show everyone her accomplishments. The only problem was my daughter wasn't interested in flashcards. In fact, she started at me blankly as if to say, "You expect me to be interested in this? I don't get it."
When Kids Don't "Get" Flashcards
I tried for several days until eventually she started yelling, "Nooooo!!!" every time I got them out. I was baffled. Isn't this what little kids should be doing? That little boy clearly enjoyed learning his letters. I consulted child expert, author, and former Kindergarten teacher Susan Case, and this is what she said:
"You don't need flashcards or expensive products to teach. In fact, young children love to learn by using their five senses and movement. Sensory integration is the ability to take in information through the senses of touch, smell, taste, vision, hearing, and movement, and to combine the resulting perceptions with prior information, memories and knowledge already stored in the brain. In other words, a child's time is much better spent learning by exploring and discovering, using their five senses and movement."
I was pretty relieved that my daughter was normal and that I didn't need to stress about the fact that she didn't want to learn the flashcards.
10 Fun Alternatives to Flashcards
If your child hates flashcards too, try out any of these 10 ways to make letters FUN!
Make home-made puff paint using just salt, water, and flour. Then put the mixture with some paint into squeeze bottles. Trace a letter using a pencil and make the sound for your child. Then allow her to use the squeeze paint to trace over your letter.
Use sprinkles to make letters. This time, use glue to make a letter on a piece of construction paper. Then give your child the bottle of sprinkles and allow her to sprinkle them so they will stick on the glue and a lovely letter will appear.
3. Letter Treasure Hunt
Hide a bunch of letters in sand and ask her to find all the letters. As she pulls each one out, tell her what letter it is. You could even use the letters to make words.
4. Dot Letters
Use a dot-maker to make letters. You will draw circles to form each letter, then give her the dot-maker (which can be found at most craft stores) and she will simply fill in each dot to form a letter. Again, you could make words after she completes a few letters.
Use rocks to make letters. You will draw circles to form each letter, then give your child a pile of pretty, colorful rocks. She will fill in each circle with one of the rocks to form letters.
6. Painted Letters
Play Slap-Jack. When you play with cards, your child is exposed to letters and numbers and it simply reinforces what she already knows.
8. Magazine Collage
Make a collage by cutting letters from a magazine.
9. Alphabet Letters
Eat alphabet soup and be on the look-out for different letters.
10. Object Collage
Trace letters and then give your child some glue and a bowl full of interesting ojects, such as colored Poms, buttons, or even M&Ms and ask her to glue along your lines to form a letter. Of course, you need to closely supervise when kids have small objects.
Once I started using sensory techniques with my daughter, I noticed a world of difference. Some days she even asks me to work on letters. I don't pressure her, because she is only four, but I do love it when she is smiling during a project, and I can know that I am taking an active role in my daughter's education.
Katie Norris is the co-author of the best-selling The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble, and Motivated to Learn, available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.