I teach pre-kindergarten. The children must be 4 years old by July 31 to be in the class, which makes them ready (age-wise, anyway) to enter kindergarten the next fall. We work on kindergarten readiness skills, including coloring, cutting, gluing, counting, and writing our names, along with plenty of free play in our different centers, such as art, math, science and home living. Additionally, we do a Letter of the Week curriculum, concentrating on beginning sounds and learning to recognize and write each letter.
Informal learning of the letters and sounds happens constantly. It's a wonderful "lightbulb" moment when a child is playing, say, in the science center, sifting rice through his fingers in the sensory table, looks up and exclaims, "Miss Dyanne! Rrrrice begins with 'R'!"
Several years ago (11, to be exact), during "Q" week, we were casually talking about words that started with "Q" while the kids were at the table eating snack. They offered up words like "quick." And "quack." And "quiet."
Suddenly, one of the girls had her "lightbulb" moment. Her face lit up and she bounced in her seat as she said, "Miss Dyanne! Miss Dyanne! I know what starts with 'Q'!"
Couldn't argue with that.