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Della Palacios

Educational Consultant, Trainer and Teacher, SensAble Learning, LLC

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Should we begin teaching children letter sounds first with lowercase letters instead of letter names with uppercase letters?

What do you see more of when you open a book, capital letters or lowercase letters?

What is more important for reading, letter sounds or letter names?

Shouldn't we teach children the more germane information pertaining to the letter first, its sound, as Montessori schools do? Aa is for apple and it says /a/ is too much information for a child to take in, process and then apply to a complex language code. Why don't we start with lowercase letters and sounds, saving letter names for once a child can read a three-letter consonant-vowel-consonant word?

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  • May 6 2013: I am happy to see this conversation, Della! Having taught in a Montessori program for over 3 decades, I was always frustrated by the desire in a child to learn to write and read and the many obstacles we put in their way: letter names in particular. It often took 6 months to a year longer to learn to read for the child who came to the school at three knowing letter names. I have heard words like "effortless" and " seamless" used to describe the ease with which a child discovers how to write and read when they know the actual tools of print - letter-sound associations ( actually sound-letter associations is more accurate). As a neuropsychologist friend of mine said in response to teaching letter names first, "why would you do that to a developing brain." The alphabet was designed to represent the sounds we speak . Encoding and decoding is about sound. Keeping it simple, introducing incrementally, building confidence, exploring and playing with the most useful information - sound-symbol associations - really makes a difference from my experience.
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      May 6 2013: I consider myself this woman's apprentice. I learned more in the (nearly) past two years from her than a bachelor's degree, master's degree, some doctoral work, numerous professional developments and classroom experience taught me.

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