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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 13 2013: I started this conversation to see if anyone can help me understand why preschoolers and kindergartners are taught the ABC's first with letter names.

    -Everything I read points me to the conclusion letter sounds should be taught first with lowercase letters.
    -Logical reasoning brings be to the conclusion letter sounds should be taught first with lowercase letters.
    -Every child I work with leads me to the conclusion letter sounds should be (or should have been) taught first with lowercase letters.

    “…what can psychology and neuroscience recommend to teachers and parents who wish to optimize reading instruction? …we know that conversion of letters into sounds is the key stage in reading acquisition. All teaching efforts should be initially focused on a single goal, the grasp of the alphabetic principle whereby each letter or grapheme represents a phoneme.” p. 228 Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene (Don't let the name alphabetic principle fool you. It is all about the sound-symbol relationship. It has nothing to do with letter names.)

    Stay tuned, world. Brenda Erickson is a long-time Montessori practitioner who developed Souns®, a literacy outreach program of Counterpane Montessori, a 501c3. I am a traditionally trained educator and consider myself her apprentice. Together, we are on a mission to see to it children read!

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