Problems with Letter of the Week Curriculum Activities

What does it really mean to “do” a letter using a "letter of the week" curriculum?

Pinterest is flooded with “letter of the week” curriculums. If you search for help with teaching the alphabet to toddlers or preschoolers, you’ll quickly get bombarded with letter crafts and letter worksheets!

But this doesn’t mean that "letter of the week" curriculums actually work …

If you’re following a “letter of the week” curriculum (or considering this approach), I’d like you to think about what it really means to “do” a letter.⁣ ⁣

What exactly is your toddler or preschooler learning from gluing cotton balls on a letter C cut out of construction paper or eating carrots and cucumbers just because they start with the letter C?⁣ ⁣

If you’re struggling to get past letter D because it’s just too much prep work, give yourself permission to abandon that “letter of the week” curriculum without feeling guilty about it. That's because the “letter of the week” approach is outdated!

The next time you catch yourself looking for letter crafts and letter worksheets on Pinterest, there's something you need to keep in mind.

Research does NOT support teaching one letter a week in alphabetical order using letter-themed crafts and activities.

No More Teaching Letter a Week

The book No More Teaching a Letter a Week highlights the gap between good intentions and results in terms of preparing children for learning to read.⁣

There are 3 main problems with “letter of the week” curriculums.

  • It focuses on letter recognition out of context and in isolation.
  • It often introduces too many concepts at the same time.
  • It doesn't meet toddlers and preschoolers where they are at developmentally.

The result? Often toddlers and preschoolers can't remember the letter name or the letter sound. Or they get confused between the uppercase and lowercase letters. Or they struggle to trace “letter of the week” worksheets because the pencil grip hasn’t yet developed.

And this is assuming that your 2 or 3 year old child doesn’t run away as soon as you bring out the “letter of the week” activity that you’ve prepared!

Many toddlers and preschoolers simply aren’t interested in doing letter crafts or letter worksheets.

It’s SO frustrating for parents like you who just want to do everything possible to get their preschoolers ready for reading by learning letters at home!

Here’s an easier and more effective way to help your older toddler or 3 year old child get ready for learning letters.

To really prepare your child for learning letter sounds and phonics, you’ve got to start with developing phonemic awareness.

Phonemic awareness activities help your child become aware of the individual speech sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. That's important because the alphabet letters are written symbols that represent speech sounds.

This way, your child will come to understand that letters represent speech sounds. THEN do activities to associate each speech sound with its written symbol.

Learning this code between letters and sounds is what's meant when you hear the term “phonics”.  Reading requires knowledge of the code between written symbols and speech sounds.

Research shows that children need explicit phonics instruction because reading is not hard-wired in the brain.

Getting your child to memorize letter names and letter sounds using a “letter of the week” curriculum isn’t enough because you’re skipping a critical step in the learning sequence.

Children who have a hard time learning the phonetic code often have difficulty hearing individual speech sounds in spoken words. They struggle with phonemic awareness. 

The biggest mistake parents make is starting with the kind of letter recognition activities you find in "letter of the week" curriculums before laying the foundation with phonemic awareness activities.

That’s why I created the Teaching Letter Sounds Toolkit. Inside you'll find the proven system and all the printables you'll need to teach letter sounds using fun, hands-on activities. There are NO crafts or worksheets. Try it and see!

You've only got so much time and energy, and I want you to focus it on early literacy activities that actually set up your child for success with learning to read.

TEACHING LETTER SOUNDS TOOLKIT Lisa Adele Montessori Teacher

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