We all teach our children the ABC song – but, this societal tradition may, in fact, be the beginning of a child’s struggles with reading. In order to be successful with decoding, children need letter sounds. Knowing the letter names for the word ‘fog’ does not benefit children at all in sounding out that word – they need the sounds /f/, /o/ and /g/. Yet, we traditionally introduce children to letter names first. Given the basic premise of learning – we tend to remember best what we learn first – is it any wonder our young children are struggling with reading when they are most likely trying to sound out words using the names instead of the sounds.
This is especially true for our at-risk students, who tend to have memory issues. Not only do these children have difficulty remembering both the name and the sound, they struggle to remember when to use each. If they have been given the name first, it is most likely that is what will pop into their mind when decoding. With Itchy’s Alphabet, I encourage teachers to ‘talk sounds’ with their students and to have students respond with sounds rather than letter names as well.
Let’s start teaching a letter sound song (I have one in the works) so children identify with the sounds first and can apply this skill to become successful with decoding.