A good early childhood program helps children identify not only letters (i.e., the alphabet) but also begins to work on identifying the sound each letter makes. Sounds at the beginning and end of words are the easiest to identify, and children usually get those first. In preschool they begin looking at letters and sounds through games, dramatic play, and by looking at letters that are already familiar to the students (like in his or her name.)
This weekend I came across a website that was put together in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education that teaches letters and sounds through two cute characters – Duck and Elephant – and some fun computer based activities. Take a look here.