One way or another we learn letter-sounds and apply that knowledge directly to learning to read. For the most part it works, but not without notable levels of difficulty and frustration.
One additional step can make a commanding difference in that journey to reading – building words. Consider a 1000 piece puzzle. Putting it together can be challenging for anyone. Taking the completed puzzle apart into its individual pieces to be returned to the box is quite simple by comparison.
Learning to read is like negotiating the loose puzzle pieces of our alphabet, turning a chain of sounds into a word. It is quite challenging and can lead to many failures and much guessing before success is enjoyed.
Consider the ease of taking the puzzle apart. A spoken word is like a puzzle already put together. All the sounds are there in a nice little package called a word. If the child knows letter-sound associations well, listening to the sounds and building the word – one sound at a time – (not as it is spelled) is quite confirming and informative for the child.
This step – building words – bridges code based knowledge and decoding. Children 4 and 5 years old and those challenged as readers need to develop a deep understanding of how words are built. A child who knows letter-sound associations well and who focuses on building words – one phonetic sound at a time – for several weeks to a month often transitions into reading words seamlessly.
Reading becomes the next natural step for the child who has built words by listening to sounds in words first. This has been the magic of the Montessori-minded Souns program. IT is a direct link between sound and symbol, bypassing letter formation, which is another skill altogether.