Monday, August 3, 2009

How do you introduce letters?

We are gearing up on our tot school this month, and I have been putting a lot of thought into how to introduce the alphabet to the kids. This seems to be quite a controversial subject among childhood educators. There are several different theories on how to introduce the alphabet. And, of course, there are pros and cons to each of these methods.

Alphabetical Order:
As the name implies, the letters are introduced in order of the alphabet. This is the method used by several homeschool preschool curriculums (including very popular ones such as letter of the week). The pros of this method are that the order of the alphabet is learned at the same time that letter recognition is taught. The cons of this method are that a lot of instructional time must pass before students are ready to use their developing letter knowledge for reading and writing. Also, according to the authors the learning cooperative "abc and 123",
"The first five letters of the alphabet are 5 difficult letters to master. a & e are difficult to because they are vowels and make more than one sound. b and d are confusing because of their similar appearance. c is a consonant that makes more than one sound."
Phonics Driving Model:
This is the method utilized by most childhood educators to introduce the alphabet. This method is also called the "CVC" method since usually a consonant is taught, followed by a vowel, followed by another consonant. This method is thought to build early reading confidence since children are immediately able to start reading and spelling common three letter words with their knowledge. (CAT, PEN, HAM, etc.) In thi method, typically several consonant are introduced first, followed by a vowel.

So...tell me, how did you introduce the alphabet to your child? Did you follow one of the methods above, or utilize something different? What worked for your family and why?


Rachel said...

Like many other things in early childhood, learning letters (and numbers, and shapes...) is something that I'm not going to worry about "teaching." When they become interested in objects or letters, I might say "You found a triangle!" or "that's the letter G!"--as they come up. Eventually, kids will learn their letters. Usually, they will be able to identify the letters in their own name first--those are the only letters that really matter, in their eyes! Now, I may try to encourage letter recognition and sounds by doing activities that focus on one letter BUT I won't be dwelling or making a big production out of it. Learning is best done through hands-on, real-life PLAY time. So learning letters, to me, is just another game. Maybe you can take Marcus' favorite toy and say, "Buzz starts with a B! Let's see if we can find other things that make the b sound!" and walk around your house and collect little treasures that start with the letter b. Put them in one place where he can revisit the items throughout the week. Then if/when he's showing interest, you can say, "remeber how we found these and how they all make a 'b' sound?" etc. Sorry, this is a really long comment. The idea is: make it a game! And don't worry about whether he is "getting" it or not. He will, in time. :)


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