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Inspired by Satish’s review in Saffron tree, some time last year we got the book Tanka Tanka Skunk from the library. When I picked up the book, Chula was not a self-reader. Montessori reading follows a certain pattern. For a long time the reading skills are dormant and they suddenly start reading. Many children start writing before they start reading. When you carefully analyze the process of reading it is amazing how we all even started reading. Print is made of sentences in a particular pattern. In most languages print is from top to bottom, left to right, right side up and front to back. Books are made of paragraphs, paragraphs are made of sentences, sentences are made of words, words are made of phonemes (group of letters, that may or may not be stand alone and that form a sound which is a part of the word) and phonemes are made of letters and letters are symbolic representation of sound. The grasp of the phonemes and sound of words/letters is the bridge between language and literacy where the child realizes that print can be read and speech can be written down. I am tempted to go on more about language development, but I will be digressing. Montessori reading follows a certain pattern that is developmentally appropriate and there are lot of aids like sand paper letters, sound discrimination activities and aural exercises that aid in language and literacy development. One fine day all this come together and the child starts writing phonetically and reading.

When we read Tanka Tanka Skunk, Chula was putting all this information together. In the book, they beat drums as the elephant and the skunk dissect words. Alligator would be A+lli+ga+tor, split in to four and hence four beats. She really enjoyed doing this. So during long car rides I used to give her long complicated words like Mississippi, ignoramus, cathartic, persnickety and ask her to beat to it and also names of her classmates. She was so fascinated that my appa’s name had 6 beats to it. We all had fun doing this. Dec 2008 we were making holiday cards for Chula’s teachers. She wanted to write her name, which she did from memory. But she put the pencil down, clapped her hands and kept repeating the words “Dear” -> “Di+yer”-> “D+i+y+e+r” and wrote “Diyer”, she has phonetically spelt her first word, all by herself. I was amazed.

March 2009, we were at a store and I was paying at the counter. There were lollipops arranged in a glass bottle with a sticker that said CANDY. Chula wanted one and I dismissed her saying, “Oh, you are just asking it because it looks pretty. Do you even know what it is?” and she said, “Hm. That is candy amma. It says that on the box. C.A.N.D.Y. Can I have one?” That was the first time she read to me. Today all she needs are books and can sit with them for hours, except that I must not say something like, “Can you read this book, I have some chores to finish”, in which case, she would crib, whine and insist that I read it to her. Anyways, it was amazing to see how she started reading and writing.

Now it is Mieja’s turn. She can write her name, all letters present. And she is trying to spell. So it goes,

Amma, what is KE+O  T+R+U+C+K?
Keo truck?!
No silly that is cow truck. Okay what is P+G  T+R+U+C+K?
Pg Truck?
Nooooo, that is pig truck.

So I get to enjoy this process for the second time. Lucky me.

[tags]self-reading in preschoolers, montessori reading, tanka tanka skunk, phonemic awareness, print awareness, phonetic awareness, phonemes, spelling phonetically, how children begin to read and write[/tags]

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