A few days ago I got it into my head that it’s time to start teaching Charlie about letters. Unlike almost every early childhood program out there, I had opted to start Charlie on whole words and then go back and teach individual letters after we’d built some sight words. I had my reasons and they were based on scientific research and all that, but I won’t bore you with all the details.
So, out of nowhere I decide it’s time to start talking about letters. I sit Charlie down in front of his iPad, and bring up the Notes app (not the best choice, but fine for the moment). I start a new note which brings up the key board and then go into my nifty teacher mode.
“So, Charlie, today we’re going to talk about letters. Can you see all the letters here? Tell me–do you know which letter is the first letter in Charlie?”
I take his hand and hold it in the pointer position–he’s come a long way in this area, but he’d still rather have someone else do his pointing. I wasn’t really expecting him to answer. I was doing that obnoxious thing that teachers do where they ask you something that they know you don’t know, and then they just go and give you the answer.
Imagine my surprise when his little arm immediately pecked on the letter C. He did it so quickly that I had a feeling we were going over old territory for the little guy. I went ahead and asked him the next letter feeling pretty confident that he wouldn’t be able to do this one–whenever we study his name, we use a lower-case h and the keyboard features an upper-case one.
Yeah, he got that one in about five seconds as well. This is the same moment that he got very, very bored with the activity and began trying to close the application. I pushed on. He had some trouble with the letter i, but other than that, was able to spell his entire name. Later, my MIL, who teaches Kindergarten, explained that i on the keyboard looks completely different than the i that we teach children–no serifs or dots on the keyboard. She said it’s a pretty common problem for small children. Charlie and common are two words rarely used together.
Over the next few days I have discovered that he can spell Charlie, Mommy, Daddy, Max (our cat), red, and Rude Boy. That last one is a horror show of a Rhianna video that I wish I had never downloaded because he loves it and it is SO not for children. He cannot spell Buster, who is the family dog. Basically, he can spell most of the words that we’ve studied in reading. He also seems to know his letters already–he taps those out quickly if you say one out loud. Don’t know if it’s every one, but it’s plenty.
I’m pretty thrilled. I’ve done a lot different things to try to teach Charlie and it’s unbelievably good to know that at least a small part is sinking in. My husband was completely skeptical–he didn’t even want to watch Charlie work–but I made him sit down and see for himself. Afterwards, he said to me, “Mind. Blown.”
Not exactly sure where to go next with this, but I’m happy none the less. I decided a while ago that Charlie’s best bet for communication would be something computer-based. Will it be typing? I have no idea, but I do know that spelling and reading are the building blocks of communication for him–the keys to expressing what he’s thinking and feeling. Seeing it in front of my eyes is downright amazing.