Saturday 21 April 2012

The Alphabet, Vowels and Consonants

Garden Girl knew her phonic sounds before she knew her alphabet. In the early stages of learning how to read this was not a problem as most of the words she came across were purely phonetic. Children are also taught to write phonetically in the foundation stage. Spelling is not a priority, in as much as children are not expected to spell words correctly, but they are expected to use a correct phonic sound. For instance, when Garden Girl wrote the word 'time' as 'tighm' this was OK because phonetically speaking t - igh - m can be put together to make the correct sounds for the word.

Learning the alphabet however is the first stage in learning how to spell properly. There are reading and spelling rules that rely on knowledge of letter names (the alphabet names) and in particular on knowing which letters of the alphabet are vowels or consonants.

I fully admit that I struggle to tell my children they have written something correctly when in fact the spelling is wrong, even when they have written the word phonetically correct. And yet I do not want to conflict with the way the school is teaching her as this could be very confusing for her. Therefore, when she asks if she has written a word correctly I will always say, 'yes, you have used all the right phonic sounds to make the words. Thats brilliant, well done'. I will then say 'But, I can show you how to spell the word as it is written in books if you want me to?'. If she is interested I will explain to her how to spell the word correctly. For this she needs her knowledge of the alphabet, vowels and consonants.

There are many resources on the internet for learning the alphabet, vowels and consonants. Garden Girl found songs to be the best way, as repetition helped her retain the information. When she needs to know if a letter is a vowel or a consonant I will hear her quietly singing 'a e i o u' to the tune of BINGO. If she sings the letter she is trying to figure out, she knows it is a vowel, if she doesn't she knows it is a consonant. Then she can apply whatever spelling rule I have explained to her.

Once your child has started to learn to read and write, the first and most important thing you can do to help them is to teach them their alphabet, vowels and consonants. It might not seem hugely important at first, when the focus is so much on phonics, but once they become interested in spelling and are reading slightly more advanced books, this knowledge will be invaluable.

If you want resources to help your child learn the alphabet, vowels and consonants have a look at these two websites:

There are lots of resources and ideas on both of these websites. Also, type 'Alphabet Songs' and 'Vowel Songs' into google and you will find loads of songs which are a fun and extremely useful way of helping your child remember their alphabet and vowels.

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