Tuesday, November 15


I was more than happy to leave off reading until she was over 5 years old. But her love of letters has only increased, as well as wanting to know what words start with, and 'reading' her books.

So although she's only 31/2, I decided to give it a formal start and take her cues how she wants, or doesn't want, to proceed.

I ordered some phonic resources from Amazon and as there was no rush we waited on them before starting anything. They arrived last Friday and we made a start.

Well, after a 10min run through the very basics - sounding out letters and running them together to read a whole word - she was reading new 3-letter words on her own. Blimey, so she was more then ready.

She has a short attention span with the sounding out, perfectly right for her age. So we might only do 5-10mins. And then she loves to watch the phonic dvds.

Also, rather than sounding out the letters slowly, running them together, she sounds out each letter than forms the word in her head, then says the word! Smart-ass! :) But I'm trying to get her to do the slower work as she'll need to for longer words.

Yesterday, I had phonics coming out of my ears! Dvds, learning books, jigsaws, snap game, matching pairs..... phew

As a note, I'm disappointed in good phonic resources. Am I looking in the wrong places? They're either expensive or confusing or out-dated.

This first set I mention is fine. But while it seems like a starting kit, it goes much too fast through the basics. It's really better after the child has had basic work first and then this set as a reinforcement. She sees there are further items on the dvd and more books and wants to use them, but they jump too far ahead.
The other issue I have, is that on the dvds they present a letter not just as a starting letter but 'in a word'. Quite confusing for a child starting to read to see pencil as a word in the i list because it has i in it.

There is a ton online to print out, but with the cost of ink, it can be more cost-effective to buy a book.

What I expect from basic phonic learning is:

letter sounds not letter names
not capitals
letters sounded out without the incorrect uh ending sound - mmmm, not muh
letters learnt first as the start of words
reading books that follow the stages but have more than 1 sentence a page (hello, kids memorise!)
visual letters not of the pre-cursive font

That precursive i totally confused her and she attempted to call it a j.

I'm now asking her occasionally to read out 3-letter words in the usual books we read together.


  1. So awesome. I love that she wants to learn it really bad. I love your take on education, by the way, it sounds a lot like how I think of it. Kids totally have their own timing and stuff. Last year I noticed people teaching their kids that were my sons age the alphabet. I really never knew when they were supposed to do that stuff. But anyway I'm a little lazy and it turned out be learned it on his own by this abc song we have on a cd. So I suppose he was ready to learn it on his own time! I'm really all about play right now but when you see your child begging to learn something you have to go for it :) so I guess the key is recognizing when their learning phase is for that particular thing. You have quite the smarty pants there!!

  2. love that approach to education - although I love Steiner for a lot of things, and appreciate the "Journey not a race" philosophy, I don't like the requirement not to do letters before 6 ish, which is good for some (would have suited my son) but not all (daughter is just the same as yours and loves letters and figuring out which is what). Good luck with finding the resources - the set that did work well with our boy was Letterland, although I don't think they produce them anymore, but you can often get some good sets on ebay.

  3. My 4 year old son, begs to do his older brother's kindergarten homework. He loves the letters and knows a lot of sounds, but he has no interest in putting the sounds together to make words. If it brings them joy and makes them proud then why should they be deprived? Their little spirit needs it.

  4. yes, guidelines can be very helpful, but rules or worse, dogmas, are quite sad when they deprive anyone.

    my only method is - listen to the child and to your intuition. :)

  5. How fun to see this happening isn't it? I had many of the same peeves as you re: the materials available. That 'a' issue can still confuse the twins, and well as books that write in all caps or stylized fonts.

    I also felt my kids were ready for letters and phonics early, but am not sure if that was just their Montessori environment - which can have a tendency to push it too early for some I think (at least the one they were at) - or not. I worried about it at the time, was it too early, etc. especially as I was reading a lot of unschooling material online around then...but they were all early readers and they all love to read, and it just opened the world up to them in a whole new way - being able to read street signs and packaging labels etc. There really is so much of our surroundings that are word-based (although this may be less true for you in a country setting.) It is like a magic door opened to them.

  6. Yeah Michael thought that precursive 'a' was a 'g' the other day when we came across one.

    That sure was a quick jump into reading, I'd say she was ready! And the way you describe it reminds me of my niece (she started reading at 2 1/2! genius child, lol).

    Michael has always liked letters, too, as I'm sure I've mentioned a million times haha. We've been taking it slow with him, but trying to follow his cues, too.

    Someone had suggested the Leap Frog video "The Letter Factory" to us, and it's pretty good. It's just like a kids' cartoon, where this boy frog goes to the letter factory and there is a different letter in each room of the factory. They pronounce the letter sound correctly (no 'uh' with it), and give a word or two that starts with the letter. Michael watched that thing over and over again until he had all the sounds ingrained. The sequel is "The Talking Words Factory" which puts 3 letter words together. There is also the complimentary refrigerator magnet thing that makes all the letter sounds, too.

    There are also these books called "Bob Books" that have very easy words and only a few words per page (at least the beginning ones are like that). They are designed to give a child the confidence of reading a book all by themselves. They have them at our Montessori school. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0439845009/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=2573231621&ref=pd_sl_5thtlv1xps_b

    They also have these tactile letters at his school, but they are a little pricey, unfortunately: http://www.amazon.com/Montessori-Small-Movable-Alphabets-Box/dp/B003BGYB8C/ref=sr_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1321500656&sr=1-3

    I don't know if you were actually asking for resources, but there ya go.

    Michael is learning to read, too! Surprised us by reading a word the other day. Maybe we should get some of those Bob books...


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