It’s Greek To Me!

Can you read this sentence for me, please?

!  $)&^  (*   &%  !  #&^.

Of course you can’t.

This is what printed material looks like to someone who can’t read, whether they are 6 or 60.  Until they are given the tools to decode it, it’s a meaningless foreign language.

Even though you couldn’t read the sentence, you probably noticed some of the symbols are repeated.  Recognizing likenesses and differences still isn’t enough to read the sentence but it is an important step in becoming a reader.

Remember in kindergarten when you were given a mimeographed sheet with rows of shapes and you were told to color the two that were the same?  Then at some point you were asked to circle all the letters or words in the row that were the same.  These were pre-reading skills so by the time you were ready to read you would be able to tell that ‘cat’ and ‘cat’ were the same but ‘cat’ and ‘mat’ were not.

Where to start?  Well, you can’t tell what is different until you are very familiar with what is the same.  At some point you will notice how much fun your child has interacting with the water at bath time.  A bit later you’ll notice the bath toys and start thinking what fun your child would have playing with them.  Rubber ducks or frogs?  Big decision, but I think you should get both, even though, to start off you’ll only use one set.  You want your child to become familiar with one animal.  “Find the duck. Find the big duck. Where did the little duck go?” and so on.  When your child can do all of these things with consistency, then you add the other set.  Froggy has come to swim in the duck’s pond. Now you can do activities that involve both.  “Oh, look, there’s a little/big frog just like the little/big duck.  And guess what?  Eventually, when it’s time to clean up at the end of bath time, your child will be able to put all the ducks in the basket and then all the frogs. Or you might want the little ones put in first and then the big ones.  Or maybe the green ones and then the yellow ones.  You’ve had fun, your baby has had fun and you have been teaching a pre-reading skill.

As your child matures developmentally (we really need to discuss developmental age vs chronological age some time soon) you can move on to sorting buttons by size, shape and color, laundry (finding pairs of socks), and the all time favorite, silverware (a precursor to unloading the dishwasher).  Are you not only starting to see a future reader but also a future mother’s little helper?  Just an added little benefit from all of your hard work.

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