SOUND it out!

[2 years +]

Most children learn the names of the letters before the sounds that they make.  But is it really that helpful to know the names of letters when learning to read and write?

As a speech pathologist, my role in literacy is to promote pre-literacy skills such as book reading and churning out nursery rhymes but also ‘phonological awareness’, being aware of sounds in words.  Research shows any child with good phonological awareness skills entering school will succeed in learning to read and write.  But this has nothing to do with the names of letters!

When you think about it, knowing the names of the letters doesn’t get you much further than being able to spell out a word aloud to someone else (You spell it ‘A-I-M-E-E’).  This is definitely useful down the track, but not at the start of literacy learning.

What do you need to know to:

  • Sound out words (reading) : A child needs to be able to decode each letter into a sound (eg. ‘hot’ – h= ‘hh’, o=’oh’, t=’tt’) and then put those sounds together and say them into a word.  It’s not simple and the child needs to be good at decoding the letters into sounds and putting sounds together to make a word (either aloud or in their head)
  • Spell a word (writing it down) : Break the word into sounds in their head and translate each to a letter, before writing them (as above. ‘hot’ – ‘hh’=h, ‘oh’=o, ‘tt’=t).  This is not simple either!!!

But one skill you don’t need, is to know the names of the letters…  If you only know the names of the letters, you can only say ‘H-O-T’ when looking at the word, which gets you no closer to decoding what the word actually says.

A teacher I once knew actually only ever talked about the sounds of the letters in the first year of school and then introduced the names of the letters in the second year.  In the real world, most children will learn the names of the letters by osmosis anyway, but it can be helpful to put more of a focus onto the sound each letter makes.  This is particularly so for any child that seems as though they might find literacy a challenge, as learning the name and sound of a letter is just more memorising for them that puts extra load on the brain when it comes time to read and spell.

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About heidelightful

Hello friend! I am a paediatric speech pathologist and health coach. My vision is to create a world where parents can understand the real link between diet and their child's health and behaviour, and know how to create true health for their family. My two young, wonderful and sensitive sons both have food intolerances and have also taught me about my own, that I have never known about until now! Topics I have looked into for my own family's health and also from my role as a speech pathologist with children with picky eating are food intolerances, fussy eaters, creating healthy eaters and eating to prevent and ‘cure’ childhood issues such as ADHD, autism, eczema/skin issues, trouble sleeping, low immunity, frequent snot/ear infections and bedwetting, to name a few. I write many posts coming from being an exhausted mum trying to keep up with fussy boys who can only eat certain foods and also as a professional who has worked with other children with similar issues. I live on the Sunshine Coast in Australia with my husband and two boys and was previously an exchange student in Brazil! I hope to inspire you to help your child achieve their potential through health and well-being. Thanks for stopping by :) Heidi

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