articles / Homeschooling

Teaching the English language

Josiah has finally finished going through the entire alphabet. He knows every letter (he sometimes pretends he doesn’t because he thinks he’ll get out of school work…makes no sense I know). He can also write all of his uppercase and lower case letters. You can tell a 4 1/2 year old wrote them, but at least you know what he’s trying to write out.

He’s progressed a lot faster than I thought he would and so as I looked over my lesson plans (yes I write out lesson plans…this is pretty essential for me since I’m developing my own curriculum as  I go) this past weekend I realized that TODAY Josiah will be starting phonics. My baby is going to start learning to read. Obviously this will take some time because of the English language. If you never noticed before, it’s very confusing.

We don’t remember how hard it was to learn our letters and how to read when we were in Kindergarten (some might). We just know that as adults we can read just fine and it’s second nature for most people (I know there are people who struggle with reading through adulthood). english

Last week when Josiah and I were going over the last of our letters I realized just how confusing it could be. I was teaching him the letter ‘Y’ and asked him if he knew any words that started with ‘Y’.

“You mean like, ‘Why did you do that?'”

Makes sense doesn’t it? The letter ‘Y’ is clearly what goes at the beginning of that sentence. Of course not. Just like the word ‘in’ isn’t spelled with just an ‘n’. Or the fact that the word ‘see’ and ‘sea’ doesn’t have a ‘c’ in it at all. This makes sense to us but to a child (or an adult) learning how to read the English language it’s confusing.

Add in the rules about how to make things plural and homonyms and all the words that mean the same thing and you’ve got a big mess if it isn’t taught right (or is it correctly?). What about the fact that letters have multiple sounds? Geez, I know the English language pretty well and the thought of teaching it to a child feels a little overwhelming.

But, the good news is that our brains are (why not ‘r’?) wired to understand complex things such as the English language. As a matter of fact, children catch onto languages better than adults. When I took a Linguistics class in college my professor told us that if you stick a 100% English speaking toddler with a 100% Spanish speaking toddler for a few hours a week, they will both begin to pick up on the foreign language without having to do vocabulary memorization and lessons on conjugating verbs.

I’m excited about opening up this entirely new world to Josiah. It’s one thing to have someone read something to you, but to read it for yourself is something entirely different. By being able to read, he will learn about so many different things that I’d never have the time to sit down and teach him.


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