Teaching letter sounds
Teaching letter sounds is an important first step into phonics. Phonics is simply combining phonology, or sounds of language, with the written symbols that represent them. There are a few keys to learning the letter sounds.
First, let’s clarify what sounds we are talking about. We know that in written English, some letters can make several different sounds. At this stage, we only teach the most common sound for each. They are as follows:
|Letter||Represented by||As in|
Other sounds that are made by some of the letters will be studied at a later date. It is important to provide an anchor for beginning readers to help them find their way along the path to literacy. Teaching letter sounds starting with the most common sound that each letter makes provides that anchor.
How to go about teaching letter sounds
Be sure your child knows the letter names and shapes before introducing the letter sounds. For a complete discussion of how to teach these areas, click on the links below:
When teaching letter sounds, these are some things to keep in mind. Directly teach each letter sound. Teach one per day. This should take less than five minutes. After teaching all of the sounds, go back and teach them again. Repeat this sequence until your child is confident and quick at connecting the sound to each letter.
Quick, frequent repetitions are the best way to practice. Every day, do a rapid review game. This builds speed and accuracy. Also, play sorting and matching games often.
Listed below are a few games that are fun to use to practice letter sounds:
- Go Fish
- My Pile Your Pile
- Alphabet Collage
When to move to the next step
When your child knows the letter names, shapes, and sounds quickly and accurately, she is ready to move into reading and writing words. Watch for your child to consistently show the following behaviors:
- When shown the letters, name the sound of each letter within 30 seconds
- Easily think of more than one word that begins with each letter sound
- When given the sounds, name the letter that makes each sound within 30 seconds
- When given a word, name the letter that begins it (Do this only with words that begin with one consonant, in which the consonant makes the most common sound.)
At this point your child is ready to begin the exciting journey into early phonics! Click on the link to learn more.