Letter of the week?

Let’s pause for a moment and ask a really important question

Why is there a need for the formal teaching of individual letters sat on a carpet in our Early Childhood provision? Nursery age children being taught as if they were attending school ?

Learning individual letters, void of meaning or context!

They are not school age so WHY are we trying to get them to learn as if they were ?

They have so many other important valuable things to do first ! To PLAY and enjoy their fleeting childhoods. Let’s face it they have the next 16 years in formal education ( approx) why do we need to start sooner ?

As we know PLAY is a child’s favourite way of learning and they’ll learn letters and reading when it’s developmentally appropriate and when it interests them.

Let’s consider 👇🏽

Do you plan a ‘Letter of the week’

Sounding out the phoneme?

* The definition of a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound within a word.


“Todays letter is the letter P ? “

Did you know that for so many of these letters, so many of us are sounding them out incorrectly ! 😱

Too often we are using TWO phonemes together, to say an individual letter’s( sound / phoneme )

Eg for the letter P - mistakenly it’s being pronounced

That’s 2 phonemes P & U 😵😱

Actually what we are adding is a Schwa, an additional vowel which is often referred to as the lazy sound. 
No wonder children struggle later at school when learning to read!

Did you know the Schwa comes from an ancient Hebrew word which means emptiness or no vowel sound?

When they eventually start to blend sounds together and read words like E.G. PAT
Children will break it down phonetically and it becomes
PU A T ?!?!?! ( why? Because the letter P to them has been taught and now pronounced PU )

Blooming heck, the Engnough anyway without adding this complication into the equation!

For our non school age children it’s NOT developmental appropriate to TEACH individual letters!
This is not phonics, phonics is way more than this.

(One could argue that actually 7years of age is more developmentally appropriate for children to learn to read, as inspired by Waldorf education and also Scandinavian countries who don’t send children to school until this age 🙌🏼 )

Instead in our settings and homes, let’s do lots of talking, introduce new words into a child’s vocabulary, sing songs and say rhymes.

Repeat back words to a child. Eg if a child says “narna” when handing you a 🍌 Banana
Reply back something like “ Ooo Thank you, a lovely yellow ‘banana’
You’re not drawing attention that the child said the word ‘narna’ wrong - We are just gently modelling how to pronounce it correctly. 💝

Have discussions, extend sentences.
If a child says “It’s a bear”.
Reply - “yes that’s right, a big brown bear!“🐻

Go on Listening walks, what can you hear?
Distinguish, differentiate sounds.

* Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds

Play music and follow a beat!
clap out a beat
Use nursery rhymes.
Tell stories
See text, notice letters everywhere, obviously talk about letters and words WHEN and IF children are interested💝

READ stories, follow the words with your finger to demonstrate text has meaning!
Turn pages carefully.
Acknowledge the Author.

Demonstrate text goes from left to right !
Put down the IPAD and handle books instead.
Provide a text rich environments with books, magazines, calendars, diaries. etc .

I’m ( Stephanie ) certainly no expert on Phonemes and teaching a child to read ! Lyndsey is the trained teacher out of the two of us 🌟

What I do know is that I still have to think VERY carefully when my granddaughter or the children at our settings points to a letter and I need to respond with an answer.
I have to get my brain and lips in gear!

Being completely mindful that I’m not telling them, all these consonants incorrectly.

B= BU😱
C =CU 🤦‍♀️
D= DU 🤦‍♀️
F= FU 😩
G = HU😣
J = JU 😳
It goes on
P =PU 😱
R = RU 🙁
S = SU 😵
T =TU 😱
You get the gist !

It’s hard isn’t it ? We operate on autopilot so often, that it’s a habit we’ve gotten ourselves into, pronouncing letters and their phonemes in this way !

So in 2022 - let’s notice WHY change is necessary.

WHY, we need to stop academic practice of ‘Letter of the Week’ and adopt a play based approach whereby children are CURIOUS to learn at their own pace and in a style that motivates them to find out more !

Spark ignite learning - instead of making it a struggle to understand or comprehend !

👉🏽Even Phil Minns from Ofsted said “ We would have no expectation of seeing phonics being taught before children are in Reception. We know that it happens sometimes,"👈🏽

So even OFSTED are saying it’s NOT necessary 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

So, let’s be champions for children and give them the wings to fly ! Instead of incorrect information that will weigh them down.

Take the pressure off !

When you sit down for
‘ Letter of the week ‘ the thing you should ask yourself is
“Am I trying to replicate a school like lesson, on children who should be off playing, jumping in puddles and excited about life?”