In What Order Should You Introduce Letters to Your Preschooler?

SandpaperLetterShould you introduce letters to your preschooler in their order in the alphabet? Surprisingly, no. There are actually better ways to introduce the letters of the alphabet.

In Montessori education, letters are introduced by phonetic sounds rather than letter names. And they’re not introduced in their order within the alphabet. Instead, they’re introduced in an order that allows the child to make many words with the letters he or she has learned.

There are variations among Montessori schools, so there isn’t a definite order that must be used. Any of the following orders will give a good foundation for reading.

Here’s the order used in Montessori schools where I worked (introducing the letters 2, 3, or 4 at a time) as well as suggested in Montessori Matters by Sister Mary Ellen Carinato et al:

s  m  t  a  p  f  c

r  b  l  i  g  n  d

h  j  k  w  o  u  v

y  z  x  q  e

Here’s the order suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin:

First set: c  m  a  t 

Second set: s  r  i  p

Third set: b  f  o  g 

Fourth set: h  j  u  l

Fifth set: d  w  e  n

Sixth set: k  q  v  x  y  z 

Here’s an order used in some other Montessori schools:

First set: m  s  a  t

Second set: b  f  o  x

Third set: w  i  g   l  j

Fourth set: c  u  p  z

Fifth set: h  e  n  r  d

Sixth set: v  k  q  y

And here’s another order used by some Montessori schools:

First set: r a m f

Second set: b i t g 

Third set: p o n l

Fourth set: h u s c  

Fifth set: d e x q y

Sixth set: z v w j k

Some Montessorians use one of the above orders but first introduce the first letter of the child’s name. Of course, that works best if the child’s name starts with a simple phonetic sound rather than a phonogram like “ch.” Here are links for directions to follow for introducing phonetic sounds: a description of how to introduce sandpaper letters, a video of a Montessori mom pronouncing each letter’s phonetic sound, and a video on how to introduce sandpaper letters.

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