Thinking & Learning

All About ABCs and 123s

It’s early days for literacy and numeracy skills, so while you can support their learning in simple ways at home, know that kids at this age show a huge range in their “academic” knowledge—and that’s fine!

Between ages 2 and 4, your child might learn their ABCs. They might be able to count to 100, or learn to write their name. They might be starting to put letter sounds together or even beginning to read. Or they might not. There is a ton of variation right now, and that’s okay. If your child is interested in learning letters and numbers, that’s totally fine. It’s also fine if they aren’t there yet. Your child is going to learn so much in the years to come—but they don't need to start preschool (or even kindergarten!) already meeting academic milestones like reading. 

Here are some things your child will probably start to do in this age range:


Recognize and name colors. It’s easier for kids to learn colors if you put the name of the object first, rather than the name of the color. For example, try saying “the ball is red” while you point to a red ball, rather than “there’s a red ball.”


Start to count things in groups and recite numbers to 10. When you count with your child, point to each object as you count, so they begin to understand “one-to-one correspondence,” or the idea that each object is a single item.


String words together in longer sentences. Right now they might be speaking in two-word phrases or stringing together full sentences, but whatever their starting point, you’ll probably see a lot more language start to blossom during this stage. They’ll express more complex thoughts, and start asserting more and more of their (many) opinions.


Recognize letters and learn what sounds each letter makes. This might come a bit later, too, and that’s okay. As you read to them, point to words on the page so they start to connect words on the page with the sounds they’re hearing.

At home, keep reading and talking with your child. As you do, you’re laying the groundwork for academic learning to come. Here are some more ideas for how to read with your preschooler and support early learning at home.

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