One of the first mistakes I made when I began teaching phonics, was teaching the wrong letter sounds.

Because most of the videos on YouTube either use incorrect letter sounds or they mix up long and short sounds (thereby potentially confusing children), it was an easy mistake to make. Even researching phonics videos on YouTube in 2021, there are few that I would consider really good for supporting a child to learn phonics.

Another mistake I made when I was starting out teaching, was the use of random tracing sheets. If you’ve done a search on Google Images for tracing sheets, you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about. Tracing sheets, aren’t a great way for teaching children the correct letter formation, and most of them are poorly designed. While they can support handwriting development, I haven’t found any of the free worksheets which I would now consider as being useful.

However, the biggest mistake I made whilst teaching phonics was not teaching total physical response (TPR) actions to go with each of the letter sounds. In this instance, I had a Starter class that was finding it very difficult to learn the letter name, letter sound, and TPR, and so I decided just to teach letter sounds and teach the letter names at a later time. That’s actually a strategy some of the commercial phonics programs use. What I found was that when it got to blending or writing practice, when students were struggling with a letter, I wasn’t able to help them out with a hint (using TPR) as to the letter they might be looking for.