Mind Your Language!by Tanja Cilia
“Yoghurt!” my son David shouted. He was not even one year old at the time.
We were on our way to the beach, and I assumed he wanted a frozen tub of the stuff to eat until we arrived. I turned around in my seat to give it to him, reminding him that he ought to have said ‘please’. He was pointing a chubby finger at the vehicle right in front of us. There, on the tail-gate of the pickup truck, was the word “Toyota”.
Before formal schooling begins, literacy skills are picked up in subtle means, before they are actually “taught” to a child. And that ought to be an indication that the “sit and study” method does not suit each and every child.
Learning styles differ:
· Aural (auditory-musical) is a preference for music and sounds;
· Logical (mathematical) uses logic, reasoning and systematic methods;
· Physical (kinesthetic) makes use of the body, hands and sense of touch;
· Social (interpersonal) is when one learns better in the company of others;
· Solitary (intrapersonal) is teach-yourself;
· Verbal (linguistic) uses words, both in writing and speech.
· Visual (spatial) chooses graphics, images, pictures, and spatial perception.
Unfortunately, most parents and teachers insist a child follow the praxis obtaining with the peer group, be it recitation by rote or point-and-say. Children who could, and would, learn faster and better in their own preferred style and method of learning are forbidden to do so because they would ‘distract’ the rest.
“Learning Through Play” is a concept old as the hills.
Everyone has packs of cards that are no longer usable. Just cover the front with blank paper, stick a picture on the top two-thirds of each card (two for each letter), and write the initial of the object, in lower and upper case at the bottom. If you can laminate them, so much the better.
These may also be used to play an interminable game of “Snap” or a “Memory Game.” If whole words are written on the cards, they may be utilized as flash cards.
If you find fabric or plastic sheeting (of the type used for tablecloths) that incorporates an alphabet design, all you have to do is attach the “pages” at the side, by sewing them. Hey, presto: you have a Bath Book.
Forget what the experts say - unless they agree with you.
There is no need to teach the alphabet in sequence. Teach sounds. Teach recognition. Teach shapes. Just teach whatever is didactic but fun.
Use sandpaper, or corrugated cardboard, or fridge magnets.
Use sand trays, water-colours, sidewalk chalk or Plasticine to add another dimension to this exercise.
Some children learn faster when ‘lessons’ involve some kind of mess; a pile of magazines, glue, glitter and stickers will encourage children to make their own Book – upper case used for obvious reasons. Haunt charity shops and stock up on old magazines!
Children love rhyme, rhythm and repetition, alliteration and onomatopoeia. This is where alphabet songs come in. You can use the tried-and-tested ones handed down in specialized books – or you can make up silly songs that will have the child giggling gleefully along in no time at all, even if he does not understand all the words. This is especially important, because if a child “knows” the Alphabet Song it does not necessarily mean that he understands what the alphabet is.
Action songs and memory games such as The Clergyman’s Cat prepare the way for teaching abstract concepts as well as encouraging lateral thinking skills.
Always keep in mind that a laptop is not a lap; don’t delegate the teaching of letters to a machine. Not only because of the insidious fashion of misspelling “on purpose” in order to appear hip, or to “save time”, but because otherwise you will be missing out on “us” time, too.