As I taught my kids their ABC’s, I taught the basic letter sounds at the same time.
And I made a common mistake parents make when teaching their kids the alphabet.
Have you ever sung: “B says ____. B says ____. Every letter makes a sound and B says ____.”?
What did you fill in the blank with?
What would you tell your child this letter says?
T says ______.
I’m guessing that you filled in the blank with “tuh.”
T says “tuh,” right?
Well, not exactly.
The sound that the letter ‘t’ represents is /t/ not “tuh.”
There’s no “uh.”
Let me show you.
Say: “King Tut.”
Listen to how you say the two t’s in “Tut.”
Say “Tut” again.
The letter “t” represents the sound made when saying the end t in Tut.
Not the sound that’s made when saying the first T, which ends up sounding like “tuh” because of the u that follows.
Now say “D says ____.”
It’s even harder not to say “duh” than it is not to say “tuh!”
That’s because ‘d’ is a “vocal consonant.”
A “vocal consonant” is a consonant that uses the vocal cords to make the sound.
Put your fingers on your throat.
Make the sound /d/ (without the “uh”).
Feel the vibration?
Like Marky Mark ; )
Keep your fingers there and make the /t/ sound (without the “uh”).
Your throat doesn’t vibrate because the sound is made without using the vocal cords.
See how hard it is to say /d/, without saying “duh?”
It’s no wonder we often teach letter sounds with the extra “uh!”
But, adding the “uh” makes it harder when a child later begins to “blend” two or more sounds together to begin reading words.
They start to read b – a – t as buh – ah – tuh.
What’s a buhahtuh?
It’s not anything.
No wonder it’s hard to read.
It doesn’t make sense.
The “uh”‘s are extra sounds which later have to be “deleted” when blending sounds together.
Kids can work through this.
But it’s easier not to teach the “uh”‘s in the first place.
They won’t have unlearn the “uh”‘s later.
When teaching letters and sounds, remember King Tut and teach letter sounds without the “uh.”
I hope this helps you help your child build skills and confidence, and makes for more enjoyment as he loves learning to read.
Note: This post is based on the methodology and research explained in Why Our Children Can’t Read … And What We Can Do About It by Dr. Diane McGuiness.
Disclaimer: I’m not a reading specialist. If you have concerns about your child’s progress learning to read, please consult a teacher or specialist. The observations that I make may not apply to your child or situation.
I am an interested parent who has actively participated in teaching my children to read (decode + comprehend) before Reception/Kindergarten.
Tidbit: My 7 year old’s favorite word: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
Photo by Cletch