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What order should I teach LETTERS TO PRESCHOOLERS?
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My son was hyperlexic until he was about 9 or so, so your mileage may vary.

However, that said, the way he learned his alphabet was in the bathtub. For some reason when he was about 12 months old, we bought a bin of foam bath letters that stuck to the bathroom tile. 6 months later, he had learned them all, except the letter Z, because it looked exactly like an N if you turned it sideways. At 18 months, his vocabulary was probably a whopping 80 words, but 25 of them were letter names. At this point in time, he was able to recognise letters on signs and labels too.

So he learned his letters completely at random.

Coincidentally, the first word he was able to read in its entirety was the word “Caution”, when he was four. This, from a “slippery when wet” sign they put in grocery stores and hospitals. It was on the day his little brother was being born.

So likewise, don’t underestimate a child’s ability to read either.

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Retired preschool teacher/administrator of thirty years here. If I can sound off? DON’T TEACH THE DAMNED ABC SONG. There, I said it. The ABC song and parroting the alphabet in order is okay for auditory memory but it has nothing to do with pre reading and literacy skills. Many parents think it’s some sort of developmental milestone and their kids are “ready to read!” they can sing or recite those things. Not really, except the excitement the adults show at that point may encourage them so there’s an indirect benefit.

Start with lower case letters - not capitals. Why? Because those are the letters they will most often see in words AND lower case letters are easier for kids to write. Kids scribble in curved lines, not straight lines. If you’re going to teach them to write their names, only the first letter should be capitalized. Trust me, their future Kindergarten teacher will thank you.

Teaching the alphabet? Teach two or three at a time, selecting letters that look very dissimilar so they’re easy to differentiate. For example, a, r and b. Avoid teaching b,d,p,q at the same time. Kids’ sense of direction is not good at preschool age and the ball and stick letters are easily confused. Talk about the sounds those letters usually make in words. When they are confident, keep one letter they know (for confidence) but add two more.

My own personal bugaboos? Don’t do “letter of the week” or teach lower case and caps together. They’ll pick up capital letters easily after they master the lower case. Don’t over emphasize their mistakes when they practice, do let them see you actually writing things on paper with pen/pencil. They need to see us role modeling actual writing.

Here’s a game preschool kids LOVE. You’ll see them playing this with each other even out on the playground. Use your finger to slowly “write” a letter on their back, and have them guess what it was. They love this game, and they are getting the sense of the letter going in the right direction through tactile reinforcement. It can help to curb letter reversals. The critical point is that it’s a fun game, not homework, no pressure.

Keep in mind the kids’ minds are really absorbent, and you are helping them even if some kids seem not to be learning their letters (some catch on right away, some don’t). You’re building a foundation their minds will draw on in the next year or two.

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First, be careful of the names you give letters. One problem younger students develop with spelling is the presence of long vowel sounds attached to the names we give letters. For example, the letter (D) makes a (d) sound, but we name it (Dee). The letter (K) makes a (k) sound, yet we name it (Kay).

Teaching alphabetical order isn’t really necessary, as it will get picked up along the way, through the Alphabet Song. Besides, it is only useful for filing or dictionaries.

You can teach letter shapes, and spelling of basic words, through the sounds of letters. My youngest son learned his name as a-a-r-o-n, by the sounds only. He didn’t learn “proper” letter names until age 8 or so. I didn’t want him confused. He was reading high school books in third grade.

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