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Should My Child Learn The Letters Or Sounds First?




Hello Everyone!

It’s time to answer a question that I am quite often asked.

‘Which should I teach my child first – the letter names or the sounds?’


And this is what I think:


Do them both at the same time.


I just think it makes more sense to do it together.


Otherwise, you’ll find your child learns the letter names then you have to do it all again, “Oh, by the way these letters represent sounds…’ .  Oh dear, this seems like trouble!


Many children come to school knowing the names of some or all of the letters but that doesn’t really help when we start to sound out new words to read or write. So we have to start all over again. Time just wasted.


So if you’re exploring the letters with your child and you talk about the letter names and the sounds they make together from the beginning, it makes learning to read and write much easier. As parents, many of us worry that maybe we are doing too much and our children will be overwhelmed. But most children just get on with business – we sometimes make things seem harder then they really are!


So if you are doing letter activities say something like this,


“Look at this – This letters name is ‘a’ and it usually makes the /a/ sound.”


Now don’t expect your child to just ‘understand’ this the first time you say it. They have to hear you say it many times and they also need to see the letter symbol many times – in books, magazines, comics, signs etc and you will have to point it out many times before it starts to click. The more times you point to the ‘apples’ sign at the fruit and vegie shop and point out the ‘a’ and mention its name and its sound the more opportunities your child will have to ‘get it’.


You might have also noticed I pop the word ‘usually’ into my casual conversation about letter names and sounds. And this is to help your child later on. We all know letters can change their sound depending on which other letters they are sitting next to or near. So ‘usually’ gives you the chance to explain how letters can have more than one sound.


For example when your child is taking the next step you can say something like , “This is the letter a and usually it makes the /a/ sound. But when there is an e at the end of the word like here in ‘cake’ it changes to an /ay/ sound.


Done and dusted!

So when you get the chance to chat about the letters, talk about the name of the letter and the sounds it makes AT THE SAME TIME.

I’m really looking forward to sending you the next blog which is setting up a successful letter learning environment at home. There are some very simple things you can do to make it fun and easy for everyone!


So until next time,

Happy Reading!





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