When to Begin...

There is a time and a season for everything under the sun….so goes the Bible account of life in a nutshell.  This week’s topic makes me think of several of the things that cause parents of young children to worry and fret.  Perhaps the following information will put their minds at ease as they trust us with the education of their children.

            “My child doesn’t speak clearly.  Does he/she need speech therapy?”   Parents can relax a little if they will realize the following expected correct articulation of consonant sounds.

            Age                     able to make these sounds correctly

            3 ½ yrs.                   b, p, m, w, h

            4 ½ yrs.                   d, t, n, g, k, ng, y

            5 ½ yrs.                   f

            6 ½ yrs.                   v, th (as in the), zh, sh, l

            7 ½ yrs.                           z, s, r, th (as in thin), wh

Not being able to pronounce certain sounds isn’t a serious obstacle to learning to read.  Instead, we do become concerned when children cannot discriminate among speech sounds.  When that occurs, other learning interventions are sought.

            “How can I help my child be a better reader?”  Remember that reading is a process…not a subject.  It is not an end…it is a means to an end.  Parents can help in the following ways:

            Read to and with your child each day when possible.  Children see that reading is important and they also hear the proper use of language patterns.  Research has shown us that reading with a parent is one of the major factors which help develop good readers.

            Provide a variety of experiences for your child.  Don’t stop there…discuss and relive the experiences through shared telling about them.  This teaches the child vocabulary about the experience.       Play games with them in the car, etc. that call for letter recognition, alphabetical order, etc.  Do the same with words. 

            “Are writing skills that important?”   Yes, they are extremely important.  If children do not develop the ability to write and read their written expressions, they will be handicapped when they are met with historical documents that are hand-written.  They will not be able to read communication from people who do not have a computer or cell phone at hand…perhaps in emergency situations.

            When children write their letters, words, etc. they are adding one more sensory level to their learning.  They see, hear, feel, and manipulate the letters as they write.  It is important that they hold the pencil correctly to prevent fatigue.  Motor memory will kick in after much practice in the same formation of letters.  If the manuscript letters are written correctly, cursive writing becomes a natural next step which saves time.


            “Why do you use tables and grouping so much at LAAS?”  According to J. Barron of Educational Psychology 2000, Vol. 92, pp. 391-298: “Problem solving is best learned in groups.  Not only do groups solve problems quicker than individuals, but when members of the group have to solve subsequent problems alone, they do better than those individuals without the group experience.”

            The last bit of helpful thinking is the following way of looking at grades.  I can’t tell you where I came across this in my 54+ year career…but it is good.  Relate the achievement level with the probable attitude the child might likely develop.  It is called the Ladder of Achievement.

                                                          100% - I did.

                                                    90% - I will.

                                               80% - I can.

                                         70% - I think I can.

                                   60% - I might.

                             50% - I think I might.

                        40% - What is it?

                  30% - I wish I could.

            20% - I don’t know how.

     10% - I can’t.

0% - I won’t.

            And I would remind everyone of the wisdom expressed by James Delisle & Judy Galbraith in The Gifted Kids Survival Guide II.      “Age is a number that happens to you, while maturity is an attitude and a set of behaviors you develop to face facts, set goals, and dream dreams.”           Kay