How We Taught The Alphabet By Age 2

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Little Bo could recognize alphabet letters by 2 years old without learning formal instruction or learning the song. Want to know how she learned them? The secret is so simple it may surprise you!


Learn the most effective phrase to get kids to listen so that power struggles and meltdowns don’t leave you miserable. Become a happier mom while you raise more helpful kids who cooperate!

I didn’t believe my husband when he told me could read at age two. And not just individual words like “cat” or “bat,” but whole sentences in actual books! His dad said it was true, but I was pretty sure they were both trying to pull my leg.

The Mr. is a really smart guy, don’t get me wrong–but age two? Come on. I’d like to consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, and I was struggling with L M N O P at three!

Well, about a year after learning this fun fact about my husband, his grandfather and aunt independently confirmed The Mr. was indeed reading by two. So as you can imagine, I had high hopes for Little Bo. Hopes that she would inherit my husband’s big brain, that is, and not my once strongly held belief that “elemeno” was one letter.

Little Bo is a little over two and a half right now, and although she isn’t exactly on track to be reading the Magna Carta anytime soon, she has at least known her alphabet since her second birthday. And I don’t mean she can just sing the song: She can identify all 26 upper and lowercase letters at random. In fact, she knew her letters before she was even really talking!

Curious how she did it? Here’s what we did (it sort of happened by accident)!


We didn’t formally teach her the alphabet or even the song. In fact, she only just recently learned there was a song. Instead, we bought her some magnetic alphabet letters, similar to these ones, but made of plastic:

52 Wooden Alphabet Magnets
We got this set for our second child, and I actually like them better than the plastic ones Little Bo played with.

That’s basically it. We bought them when she was about 18 months old; they lived on our fridge and very quickly caught her interest. The first letter she learned was O. She seemed to have a preference for this one and would always pull it off the fridge and walk around with it, so we made sure to talk about it.

“Is that the letter O?”

“Look! You have the letter O!”

“Can you put the O back on the fridge?”

Things like that.

E caught her attention next. Then M. It was a little frustrating finding alphabet letters under the fridge, behind the couch, in my sock drawer…

Toddler playing with alphabet letters on the fridge
A joke brought to you by The Mr. I walked into the kitchen and saw this–had to snap a pic! LOL

But by the time she was two, she knew all her letters! When we would go on walks, she would point out letters she saw: A T in the Target store sign, a P for No Parking, an E for Exit. We started with capital letters, and she picked up her lowercase letters in just a couple of days.


Of course, not every child will be able to pick up their alphabet this way or this early. That’s okay! It’s important to follow your child’s lead and not pressure them to learn when they’re not quite ready yet. After all, research has shown that pressuring children to learn before they are developmentally ready can actually be counterproductive.

At this age, aim to have learning accomplished through play. It just so happened that my daughter was interested in her letters. Not every kid will be just yet. But they will have their own unique interests, so explore those!

Child learning her letters

Now, at 2.5, Little Bo is showing an interest in reading, so we have been talking about letter sounds, and when we color together, we will sometimes string letters together to make basic sight words. So far, she knows MOM, DAD, CAT, HAT and her name. She also likes to memorize books that rhyme (The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham are big favorites right now), so I’ve been buying more of those.

I hope to do some more structured (but still play-based) homeschooling now that she’s becoming a preschooler. I’ll keep you posted with how it goes!

Update 2022: Little Bo is now nearing the end of her Kindergarten year, and she is doing great! She is a great reader, although she isn’t the most advanced in her class. And that’s just fine! I think this just goes to show that development isn’t always linear, and that’s normal. Letting kids grow when they’re ready is important. While Little Bo was advanced in things like counting and letter recognition, she struggled to talk for a while, repeating back phrases more often than coming up with her own sentences. In contrast, her little sister was very advanced when it came to speaking and writing/drawing, but at almost 4 years old still gets a handful of her alphabet letters mixed up. All normal! :)


Learn the most effective phrase to get kids to listen so that power struggles and meltdowns don’t leave you miserable. Become a happier mom while you raise more helpful kids who cooperate!

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