by Rebecca Lee
In a few short weeks, my first baby will be off to Kindergarten. She has already got the school shoes, the too-big backpack and the dress that skims her tiny ankles. On that first day, her bag will be packed with hat, lunch box, drink bottle and raincoat. She will carry something else with her too – it’s a confidence in her eye that she has been prepared with some of the best tools to start off her school journey.
This time 12 months ago, as friends were preparing their little ones for “Big School”, I started to think about what the year ahead would be like for our family, and how my little preschooler, who wasn’t long ago a toddler, would manage the transition to formal education. She has always been an extrovert and very socially aware, so that wasn’t an issue. I was however, a little concerned about her attention span and whether she really comprehended what the letters of the alphabet meant.
I first heard about Letterland via Ryde District Mums but wasn’t entirely sure what it was. Letterland is a unique, phonics-based approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling to 3-8 year olds. The Letterland characters transform plain black letter shapes into child-friendly pictograms and they all live in an imaginary place called Letterland. Each letter is a character, with its own story explaining its shape and sound which interests the children and helps make each letter memorable. I thought it sounded like fun, so we signed up to a free introductory lesson.
In Level 1, the students learn the individual letters of the alphabet (and their characters), whilst in Level 2, students start to put the letters together into groups of sounds e.g. “-op” as in hop, mop, top or “-at” as in hat, pat, cat etc.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by the teacher Louise, and soon all the students lined up at the door to board the train to Letterland (WINNING! Coffee time for me! Letterland is located just next to Mowbray Eatery). When the train returned 45 minutes later, all the kids were grinning with pride for their completed worksheet. Louise took the time to address each parent or carer and explained how the child managed the lesson which I was really impressed with.
The methods that the teacher engages in during class are a combination of games, songs and activities. When I agreed to write this article, I was allowed into the inner sanctum of the classroom to take some photos and I was shocked at how quiet, still and attentive the kids were. They clung to every word Louise uttered, and drank in every last detail. She addressed each child individually and asked questions they wanted to answer. It became very clear that part of what makes Letterland so wonderful is the delivery by Miss Louise. She is just brilliant!
What most grabbed me however, was how quickly my daughter started to recognise the letters in the word around her. Very soon we couldn’t go anywhere or open a book without delighted squeals of “Look mum! It’s Munching Mike! He says mmmmm and MUM!! It’s Annie Apple! She says ah!!!!”. Fast forward to the end of Level 2, and she is recognising simple words and putting together simple sentences.
If you are thinking about an activity for your pre schooler, you really must consider Letterland. It’s just perfect for children who are starting Kindergarten this year and need a little extra help with their letters and sounds.
NEWS FLASH! Do you work full time? Or perhaps you can’t find a week day class to suit your schedule. ELW is now offering Saturday morning Letterland classes. Don’t delay – BOOK NOW at www.elw.com.au
For more infomation, you can Contact Early Learning World about their Letterland classes via:
Phone: 0403 501338