When do kids know the alphabet?

By Tara Drinks

At a glance

  • Knowing the alphabet is a key skill for learning to read.

  • Most kids know the alphabet by the time they start kindergarten.

  • Some kids need extra time and practice to learn their ABCs.

The English alphabet is a group of 26 letters that represent sounds in the language. Knowing these letters (and their sounds) is a basic skill kids need when they learn to read. 

Learning the alphabet happens in stages, and some kids learn later than others. But by the time kids start kindergarten, most know the alphabet. Here’s how and when kids typically learn their ABCs:

  • By age 2: Kids start recognizing some letters and can sing or say aloud the “ABC” song.
  • By age 3: Kids may recognize about half the letters in the alphabet and start to connect letters to their sounds. (Like s makes the /s/ sound.)
  • By age 4: Kids often know all the letters of the alphabet and their correct order.
  • By kindergarten: Most kids can match each letter to the sound it makes.

Along the way, kids begin to develop other skills, too. For example, around age 2 or 3, kids figure out the letters in their name. When they start school, they also learn that uppercase A is the same as lowercase a, just capitalized.

While kids typically learn the alphabet at a young age, some may need extra time and practice to master all the letters.

When do kids know the alphabet?

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    About the author

    About the author

    Tara Drinks is an associate editor at Understood.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.