A story about teaching the alphabet to children
One day, someone close in your life says to you: “Today I am going to introduce you to 26 people. These people, once you know them, will be crucial in every day of your life so long as you live. You will call on them and need them throughout your day, every day. These relationships will be very deep. They will help you express yourself, learn, teach others, be creative, and be present in almost every moment of your life. You are listening intently and say: “Okay, I cannot wait to meet these people. Who are they?”
“These 26 people are key foundations. I need to introduce them all to you but you will need to know each one by name, appearance, and sound. Sometimes they speak more than one language so you’ll need to know all of their different sounds. When would you like to meet them?”
You really want to meet them all but you’re trying to figure out how you will be sure to remember each one. You think that it would be fun to meet everyone so you ask to invite them all over! You are excited. Once they all arrive, you are quickly overwhelmed. You can’t even hear each person to know what they sound like and you can’t remember even one name because you keep getting them mixed up. So, you thank them all for coming but realize you need a better plan.
After thinking for awhile, you decide that to get to know each person, you will need one on one time. Therefore, you decide to meet each person one on one for one week each. This way you can learn their name, know their appearance, and spend a lot of time listening and understanding how they sound. In this way, you form a deep bond with this one person so that it is unshakeable.
So, you meet A. You notice A’s appearance and how they stand tall and sturdy. You notice A’s sounds. Sometimes A sounds like ‘eh’ and sometimes A sounds like ‘ah’. You pay close attention to everything A offers. You and A bond and now A is a part of your life forevermore. A was the person who opened a new door of communication for you and you know will be of importance to you.
Next week, you are introduced to B. B is strong and has great flow. You too spend time with B until you develop this wonderful bond. As each week passes, you meet C, D, and E, and F. You notice similarities and differences in each one of them but since you took your time really getting to know each one, you can tell them apart and know when you need them. One week, M walks in the door and you realize M is an old friend! You share the same name, have worked with M before, and after one day you and M are up to speed and part ways!
Then, one week you meet Q and Q is tricky to get to know. You spend your week with Q but aren’t still quite sure of Q’s sound and shape so you decide to spend a bit more time with Q or to take a break and meet R, S, and T and then spend more time with Q later when you have more experience with the others and may be able to get know Q a little better. Finally, you meet Z, the 26th person, to complete this intricate relationship where you will sometimes need one of these people but often you’ll need many of them to work together in your life with you. Z is fun and has great moves and likes to zip and zoom. You are grateful to have taken the time to slowly get to know each of these 26 people.
Now that you know them each well, you will start to work in groups to accomplish even greater things! You begin forming these groups – AT, IN, ICK, ER, OP – and since you know each one so well, you realize how to get them to work together. As you work with these small groups, you begin realizing the fun and accomplishment that comes with bigger grouping and together your skills, accomplishments, and your understanding of each person and various groups' abilities grows and grows.
This story is to present the vital importance of early education and how important it is to take your time while teaching these concepts. Learning the alphabet is a massive pillar of education. Without our alphabet, we could not communicate in written form as we do. Often times we want to rush through concepts and expect our kids to just get it. In this story, we realize that we need to step back and put ourselves in their shoes. Although they have seen letters on pages and likely associate them with reading and writing, this is a new concept for them. Just like being asked to meet and know 26 people, introducing the whole alphabet all at once can create much unnecessary overwhelm. It likely will also result in guessing and memorizing and not true understanding. Sometimes, it is difficult for adults to understand this, being that these concepts are normalized for us now so I hope this story helps you look at not only early education, but all education for your children and yourself and help you be patient with yourself and your children when learning new concepts.
“Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write and count. It is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child. Earlier is not better.” – Magda Gerber