I started this blog journey because I wanted to educate, encourage, and enlighten people in topics related to building supportive villages for young people. Raising my children had become my greatest work. I regularly received comments from onlookers about my children being “well-behaved” and “polite.” Sometimes people would say you should write a book about parenting so you can teach other people how to raise children to be like your children. I haven’t written the book yet, but this forum gives me a platform to speak.
My mother used to talk about how she would listen to the radio or read books and envision the settings described by the artists. She would imagine what it must be like to be in that space. My mother spent decades teaching first and second grade children to read and to use their imaginations. I think she influenced my love of reading and writing. She definitely was my first reading teacher. Her penmanship was dang near perfect and she stressed the importance of me perfecting my cursive writing skill set. Unlike Mama, Daddy only cared about you being able to sign your name legibly in cursive. I never understood it, but maybe it was because his signature and his handwriting left a lot to be desired.
Mama’s reading lessons began with the alphabets. First, she taught us to say the alphabets by singing the “A,B,C Song.” Next, we had to learn to say the sounds associated with each letter. She associated each letter with objects which aided students in remembering the sounds made by the letters. Before my children were born, I started reading to them. I valued my relationships with Mama and Daddy. I wanted nothing more than my kids to bond with me as early as possible and I thought reading was one way to accomplish that goal. My father used to tell me that Big Mama, his mom, said that babies could hear while they were in the womb. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if she was right.
I found a “Hooked on Phonics” recording and I played the cassette tape in my car whenever I was in the car with my children. This recording helped me teach my daughter to read by the time she was four years old. My daughter was reading beginning readers which Mama called “primers.” By the time my son reached the age of three, I needed to get him on the road to reading so I pulled out the tapes and put them back in car. I also made sure that I had some simple books with rhyming words so that he could experience some success reading books. One of his first books was “Ducks in Muck” by Lori Haskins. The book was beautifully illustrated by Valeria Petrone which made it perfect for a curious little boy. As I recall, we read this book almost nightly for probably a month until he could “read” along with me.
One day while we rode in the car my son started to recite from memory the words in the book. At some point, his memory must have failed him or he just decided playing a rhyming game would be more fun. He proceeded to meld the lessons from the phonics tape with blends from the book. He began, “a-a-a, auck, b-b-b, buck, cu-cu-cu, cuck, du-du-du, duck, e-e-e,…, fu,fu,fu.” Before he said the four letter “f” word, I interjected saying something like, “Let’s try “L, Luh, luh, luh, luck!” Lucky that I was paying attention and redirected this boy genius who was demonstrating a mastery of rhyming words. He had no idea why my daughter and I were laughing so hard. In addition to being a master of the rhyme, he was the resident comedian so he probably thought he said something really funny. The truth was that he had done just that!
My advice to parents is to read to your children early and often. Finds books small enough for them to hold securely in their kid-sized hands. Find books with lovely, vibrant illustrations. Just be careful to pay close attention to those consonant blends when you play the alphabet rhyming game.