“See What’s Really There”

I’m helping teach one of my young children to read, and it’s interesting to see her make the same mistake that the older children made.  Just as many children naturally write letters backwards, they also seem inclined to read the first letter or two of a word, and then assume it’s a similar word they’re already familiar with, so they just say that word instead of reading the rest of what it actually is.  A child may see the word “became” and, after puzzling through the first two letters, find it close enough to “begin” or “belong” or whatever other word they’re comfortable with; they’ll then confidently pronounce that word and move on. 

When this happens, I repeat the patient mantra they’ve each come to expect: “Read the word that’s there, not the one you want to be there.” 

That’s not just good advice for phonics, it’s good advice for life. 

How often do we tend to skim through the superficial aspects of something and then pronounce ourselves experts, and act accordingly?  How often do we look for the few comfortable things in a complicated issue, and then link it to a familiar pattern, congratulating ourselves on another success?

Consider Head Start.  Continue reading

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