Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching letters and their sounds

Charlotte Mason suggests that you teach children their letters as soon as they can talk, about two years old. Well, Little Pink Girl could talk really well by the time she was two, and I was so excited to teach her. I had all sorts of ideas about how to introduce letters.
My original plan combined Montessori and Mason techniques. I was going to use sandpaper letters to introduce the letters so she could trace them with her finger, as well as using her three-step process (association, recognition, remembering). I was also going to make some foam letters that she could just play with between lessons, and I was going to use Mason’s letter game (having them find the letters on a page in a book) that she describes in Home Education. We’d read books that were related to the letter we were learning, and we’d make crafts and do all sorts of things. I figured that we’d focus on one letter per week, and have them learned by spring.

I made some foam letters for Little Pink Girl, but she tore them up almost as soon as I handed them to her. I didn’t dare give her the sandpaper letters. I decided to wait until she was older and just use them to teach her how to write in a couple of years.

I found that I didn’t need them to teach letter recognition. While we were reading, I would point letters out to her. I would also tell her the sounds. I basically used Montessori’s three-step process—association, recognition and remembering. Originally, I tried focusing on one letter a week, and just talking about it when we read books. But after the first week I found I didn’t have to wait that long. She was learning a letter a day.

After she was able to remember a letter without fail, I would ask her to find all the A’s on a page, or all the B’s, or whatever letter we were working on. After she found them all (often with help), I would ask her what sound it made. She’s not even two and a half, and she already knows all the letters and their sounds.

This process complimented Little Pink Girl’s learning style. She hears things, remembers them and repeats them. Before she was two she would say words like chemistry, dividend, vertex and bonjour. Language and learning things by hearing them seems to be her strength.

I was amazed at how easy it was to teach her letters. We did it all while we were reading stories!

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