Just over a month ago I wrote about how Little Miss C has started to show a real interest in letters and numbers and how we're trying to encourage her and help her to learn what the individual letters are. In this last month she's come on in leaps and bounds and now recognises several letters and can also say what letters certain words start with.
Whilst at nursery they use Jolly Phonics to teach children to read, but at home we're currently trying to do things much more organically – whilst also trying to keep track of what works and captures her interest and what doesn't. We have plenty of resources that we're trying to use depending on the situation and LMC's mood and enthusiasm at the time.
In the bath we have some foam letters that we have been using for some time now. At first they were just something to play with physically, but now we encourage her to find specific letters and help her to spell out words that interest her on the side of the bath. We find it a great opportunity to work with her as she always seems to be interested at this time of day and whilst in the bath she's also has less toys around her than in the middle of the day so it seems to hold her attention better. (Maybe this should be a lesson to us about just how many toys she has available to her during the day?)
We also have a set of magnetic letters that she likes to use either on the fridge or on her magnetic easel. Again we encourage her to find specific letters and also help her to spell out words that interest her – mainly her own name and the names of objects around us. She sometimes likes us to write letters for her, either on paper or on her chalk-board, but she doesn't yet have much enthusiasm for writing them herself. She enjoys drawing, but we suspect she is left-handed and at times she prefers to hold a pencil or crayon with her fist clenched around it rather than the "tripod-hold" that they try to encourage as part of the EYFS.
One of the popular Montessori methods used to teach children letters and numbers is to get a child to trace the shape of a letter with their finger, either using a textured outline of the figure, or using a figure cut-out in a piece of card. Last year I made a set of fabric numbers to be used in exactly this way. She's not yet that interested in using these and I'm actually wondering if for some reason she doesn't yet recognise them as figures, but more just decorative shapes that have been hanging in our hall for a while. Maybe it's time to try again with them.
I have discovered a few books that make use of the same principle and LMC does enjoy tracing these with her finger, but I've realised that she often tries to do so with her right hand. If she is left-handed I'm not sure if I should be encouraging her to trace with her left hand or not. Does tracing the shape with one hand mean that a certain side of your brain is used to do so? If so does this help the child learn and remember better? And should a child be encouraged to trace with the same hand regardless of whether they're left or right handed? I think I ought to do some more reading up on this!