If you google the topic, you’ll find there’s a heated debate on the topic of which should be taught first: letter names or letter sounds? Quite honestly, I hadn’t even considered the question until I was introduced to Montessori, which teaches letter sounds first. In all of my training and reading of research literature, it was evident to me that letter names should be taught first. So why was Montessori saying the opposite?
But the more I’ve thought about it, the debate seems kind of silly…like which came first: the chicken or the egg. Let me show you why. The majority of letter names reveal their letter sounds. It’s pretty cool how this works:
- The letters A, E, I, O, & U tell you their long vowel sounds.
- The letters G & C tell a young reader their soft sounds (like in the word giraffe or city).
- The letters B, D, J, K, P, (Q), T, V & Z all have their sounds at the beginning of their name (Q is not so clear-cut)
- The letters F, L, M, N, R, S, & X have their sounds at the end of their name.
- There are only THREE letter names that do not give a youngster any clues: Y, W, & H.
With all that being said, if your child has learned her letter names first, she knows quite a bit about her letter sounds. It’s actually quite remarkable how it works. It saddens me to read Yahoo discussions in which moms think they’ve “ruined” their child by teaching letter names first. My advice is to relax. The overall key is finding a systematic approach that will teach these names and/or sounds in a developmental way.
So, how goes it for you? Which comes first: the chicken or the egg?
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