Learning Guide 32 – 36 Months
My mentor teacher once told me “It doesn’t matter when a child learns to read, but it does matter how.” Your child will at some point enter a sensitive period for learning about letters and sounds, and that will be the moment to support their reading endeavors.
How will you know when your child is ready to dive in? Your child’s interest is the gauge for when they are ready. If you are met with delight when you begin introducing the letters you are on the right track. If your child is spacing out, asking to do other things, or simply refusing the invitation it’s time to step back. We want our little ones to learn to read, but even more so we want them to have a lifelong love of learning and a positive view of themselves as a joyful and capable learner.
Matching sound and symbol
Associating the sounds of the letters with the symbol of the letters is an essential skill when moving toward reading and writing. It will perhaps take a little rewiring for adults, but replacing the letter sound with its name can help children learn this association more easily. When you point to B, for example, you can just make a “b” sound instead of naming the letter. Use the 3 part lesson that you have been using for language acquisition as you introduce new letters.
Extend the fun
If, and only if, your child is loving letters, you can introduce a letter of the day. You can do this by writing a letter a day on a chalkboard they see regularly. Or you can use letter blocks, place one in the same spot each day for your child to find.
When your child sees the letter you say the sound. If it is S, you’ll say “Sssssss. This says ssssssss”. Have fun incorporating the letter and sound into your day. Draw it in the sand, make the letter out of sticks or write it on coloring pages. As your child gets familiar with the letter you can write it in different places for them to find throughout the day. Remember to make the letters you write look exactly like the one you first introduced. Do not expect your child to write the letter. They may do this on their own, but writing the letter is - you guessed it - a different skill than recognizing the letter and matching the sound to the symbol.
As your child becomes more familiar with numerous letters, you can play this fun game to get them moving and thinking. Place letters they are familiar with in one area. You can use blocks or letter magnates on the fridge. Sit far away, perhaps in an adjoining room. Invite your child to “Bring me the one that says b.” It is likely they will scamper away with delight and return with the letter. If it is not the correct one, you can say with no drama “This ones says sssss.” And ask for another one.
This one to one correlation of sound and symbol is much easier in Italian (Montessori’s native language). English is tricky, but for simplicity’s sake, in all Montessori classrooms, we use the short vowels when introducing the letters. I suggest following that method.
Here is a quick guide of what those sounds are: