SUCCESS STEP 4: Teach Letter Sounds First! Then Letter Names…

Step by Step…book-steps-to-success1

If you’re just joining me now, we’re walking together through the whole process of teaching our children with Down syndrome to read, week by week and step by step. Our goal is awesome, not to mention exciting: launching independent readers. Yes, they can!

Success Step 4

This is what we’ve walked through so far:

SS-1: WORK IT!!! For 5 minutes 2x a day

SS-2: Learn Fast Flash and teach Sandwich Style

SS-3: Add word/picture Lotto Games into the mix

So now we’re here…

SS-4: Teach Letter Sounds first and then move on to Letter Names

Why Do We Teach Sounds First?lettersounds

You’ve probably been reading aloud to your child for ages (yay!) and exposing them to the ABCs through song, books, etc. since toddlerhood. Awesome.

But when it comes to hard-core teaching, we hit the sounds first. Why?

  1. Because they are easier to learn than letter names,
  2. Because letter sounds are much more important for decoding skills, and
  3. Because this way we ask our learners to succeed at just one task at a time.

That’s why.

Example: W

Which is easier? For me to teach you that this squiggly black line, W, is “wuh”? Or is it easier for you to learn that W is “duh-bhul-yew”? And once I teach you the name, I have to tell you that “duh-bhul-yew” will be of no use whatever to you in decoding. Which is better?

I rest my case.

Oh, and here is my favorite app for learning both letter sounds and letter names: for iPad/iPhone: Starfall ABC.

I also love the first kit, the Alphabet Kit, from Love and Learning. The Alphabet DVD in the kit is clear, uncluttered, and the letter size is BIG.

On the computer, you can go to But I prefer the Starfall app (link is above), because it puts the teacher in control during teaching time: a simple repeated touch of the letter keeps the child repeating the sound for eternity until teacher decides it’s jolly well time to move on. Love it.



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  • Christine

    The Letter Factory DVD is great for teaching the sound and name.