Learning about letters, sounds and words are important to developing young readers and writers. Letter knowledge is necessary, but it alone is not enough to read and write. Children will be reading and writing stories long before they can identify all of the letters of the alphabet.
In the past, “letter of the week” was a common practice but teachers now realize the
severe limitations of this practice. When you spend a great deal of time on “letter of the week”, many children work on letters they already know, while others see and study letters out of context. Sometimes children forget last week’s letter while working on this week’s because they are looking at one item at a time.
YES! We still include instruction in letter name and sound learning with short lessons on how to look at letters- starting with those that have the most meaning.
To a child, there is nothing more important than his or her own name. In the blog post, Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Learning Through Children’s Names, I shared ways to teach letters with names during whole group instruction and transitions.
Another way to use student’s names is during small group instruction and during center time by setting up opportunities for the students to sort names to begin to pay attention to all of the letters in names, the path of motion of letters, and the similarities and differences of letters and names. We can differentiate our instruction for students who already know the names of the letters and present children with ways to sort the names by the sounds of the letters including beginning, middle, end and vowel sounds.