Mother drives home own reading method

25th April 2008 at 01:00
A new way of helping children to learn the alphabet has been created by a mother worried that her son was more interested in cars than letters

A new way of helping children to learn the alphabet has been created by a mother worried that her son was more interested in cars than letters.

Michele Carter-Buxton drew her son Fynlay, then three, a letter S for him to push his cars around. "You give boys a car and a road and they're off - they don't need instructions," she said. "That was the clicking moment, when he started to work out that letter shapes had a meaning."

Mrs Carter-Buxton turned her idea into a business then asked her son's nursery, Marlin Montessori, in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, to try out the Letter Roads, as she called them.

Jennifer Harrison-Sills, the on-site leader of the nursery, said the roads were fun, although they were not part of the Montessori method.

"Teachers in other settings could use them," she said. "Even if children are not at the stage where you want them to learn the names of letters, it is an introduction to the shape."

Mrs Carter-Buxton then asked other nurseries to test the cards and found an artist to create a professional product. She used the feedback from teachers, adding destinations such as a market on M and a zoo on Z.

But some academics fear that creating boy-friendly resources could have a negative effect.

Becky Francis, professor of education at Roehampton University, said: "It sends a clear message to boys that academic materials as they stand aren't for them; they have to be `boy-ed' up in ways such as basing them around football clubs or trucks."

www.letterroads.com.

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