Songs help some children remember sequences like the alphabet.

When Do Kids Start Singing Their ABCs?

by Lee Grayson

A good time to begin teaching alphabet songs is after your child reaches the first birthday, according to Samantha W. Davis, educator and former daycare operator, but every child marches to a unique learning calendar. It's impossible to set an benchmark age for mastery of alphabet songs. "The ABC" or "ABCs," sometimes called the "Alphabet Song," uses the familiar tune "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" as the melody to teach children the letters in the alphabet. Alphabet songs help kids memorize the order, and also assist children in learning how to pronounce the names of letters.

1. Singing Skills

Charles Bradlee, a Boston music publisher, claimed copyright credit for the "ABC" song in 1835, and gave credit to Louis Le Maire for the melody. The Newberry Library claims La Maire borrowed the musical theme from W.A. Mozart's piano variations. Children don't need to know the origin of the music piece, but a repetitive, easy-to-sing melody like this catchy tune makes it easy for kids to sing along. Early attempts at a song frequently confuse the correct letter order, but children soon master the alphabet sequence with practice.

2. Alphabet Recognition

The Rice University Shepherd School of Music claims kids learn to sing along before talking. Children have individual schedules for development in recognizing letters and words, and singing the alphabet song also encourages expression -- and later helps memorization of the alphabet. Kids attach meaning to words and that makes learning easier. Your child may sing the parts of the song with references to experiences, including "tell me what you think of me" or "now I've said my A-B-Cs," long before singing the correct letter order because the words have concrete references.

3. ABC Modeling

Some children prefer to listen to the song a number of times before attempting to sing, but humming the melody without the words encourages kids to begin singing. The more your child hears the tunes, the faster he'll start joining with you in attempting to sing the songs. Modeling the tune and using blocks with pictures of animals or toys beginning with the letter on the alternate sides with the letters at the same time helps children identify with the words in the song. Abstract letters have no meaning for children until put into life context. Singing the tune while also using picture cards with images is another way to help your child understand and remember the order of the alphabet letters.

4. Home Environment

Your child's environment has a major influence on learning and also impacts when he sings the ABC songs, according to the Academic Development Institute. Homes and preschools that incorporate music and song create a base for learning, and also have greater chances for early songs from children. Other influences for early mastery of ABC songs include older siblings in the house with the alphabet skills and the availability of media and books that focus on alphabet skills. Parents play an important role, and moms and dads who encourage baby to interact by singing songs have greater success in early song, according to the Shepherd School of Music.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

Photo Credits

  • Aidon/Stockbyte/Getty Images