Another one of those activities that can peg Abhay down for quite a long time is - Spelling Words !!! And he's kind of hooked to Spelltime now.
What began rather innocuously, has kind of caught on now. Initially, what fascinated him was the fact that he had 4 blocks per alphabet and the whole activity was so colourful. Then came curiosity and that innate need, the desire to know more, to be able to spell small words. Now that he can well spell his own name and also write it without any dots or traces, much to the delight of all the elders around him, it has served the purpose of encouraging him and of egging him on with his endeavor to learn spellings.
He would select a sheet and I would help him spell each word out. That was how it worked initially and for a few days that was how it continued. Somewhere along the way, he figured out that the alphabets were color coded. So he would look at the color of the rectangle on the sheet and his finger would hop on to that particular line of alphabet blocks on the other side of the box. I still continued spelling out the words for him.
The whole confusion began when I decided to turn this into a phonic puzzle of sorts. Basically, when he would look to me for help with spelling a word – instead of just spelling it out alphabetically, I began to use phonics. The phonic of that particular alphabet. That way, he would also learn to associate phonics to the respective alphabet. Phonics do go a long long way in helping children gain independence in reading. Though this is quite a long way off for Abhay, getting a good phonic fundamental would definitely not hurt in the long run. And what really clinched the deal was the fact that he began enjoying this turn of events. He would listen to the phonics, then figure out the alphabet and pick up that block and put it against the word on the designated place on the sheet.
Things came to a head when, one day, I had to phonically spell out C-O-W and then
K-E-Y. Now “C” and “K”, phonically speaking, are pronounced the same way -“K”. How then, was he to differentiate between the two, phonically ?
The problem seemed to sort itself out because he started using colour coding to figure out whether I meant “C” or “K” when I said “Kh (phonically)”. If it was a red rectangle on the sheet, he would reach for the alphabet C and if it was a blue rectangle, he would reach for the alphabet K.
All was fine until one day, when we were busy with Spelltime, and I phonically said “Kh”. This time around, instead of looking at the colour, Abhay asked me
“Curly Kh or Kicking Kh ?”
Honest to God, I had no idea what he was talking about !!
He must have seen that blank look on my face and the silence that followed as I tried different permutations and combinations in trying to interpret a curl and a kick phonically.
“Curly Kh or Kicking Kh Mummeee ?” came the question again.
On paying a little more attention to the rather “taken for granted” alphabets, the answer was so very simple.
You learn something everyday, if you pay attention ~ Ray LeBlond
C curls and hence is called a Curly Kh
(Picture Courtesy Google)
K looks like a person with outstretched legs kicking someone and hence the kicking Kh
(Picture Courtesy Google)
Now all that remained was for me to find out where he learned this from.
And before you rush to conclusions, NO, not from school. Atleast not from the current set of teachers. They have not even gotten them well versed with phonics.
It so happens that the kindergarten had given out VCD’s which had been made a few years back by a teacher who then used to teach there. She’s no longer with the kindergarten but they still hand out the VCD’s. And during the beginning of the year, when the CD was sent home, I had tried it with Abhay and found that he had no interest in it whatsoever. That was around the time when anything and everything associated with school was viewed negatively by him. And we did not push the issue.
Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves. ~ Abbé Dimnet, Art of Thinking, 1928
And he has a bunch of CD-ROMs which he uses. I had put this VCD in the same CD bag. More out of curiosity rather than anything else, he wanted to see this particular VCD some days back. And since he can handle the mouse and the keyboard, once the CD is on, he knows his way around. And since they are all kiddie CD-ROMs and VCDs, he does not need to be supervised.
It was through this VCD that he learnt the concept of the Curly Kh and the Kicking Kh.
And it was through Spelltime, that I learnt the concept of the Curly Kh and the Kicking Kh from him.
These are alphabets that I stare at, day in and day out. Alphabets that I’ve used ever since I learned to recognize and use them where needed. Yet, when a simple phonic confusion arose, I found myself all at sea. And it took a four year old child to clear that for me.
The situation reminded me of what Richard Feynman had once said :
"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. "