Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shadow Literacy

The idea that young children do not learn academics without formal instruction baffles me. I think that the simple act of reading with your children is enough to inspire them to pursue literacy. They begin to make up their own stories and see the alphabet in the world that surrounds them. Case in point - their own shadows.

It was a sunny summer afternoon and we were working in the backyard with large pruning shears. I was in the middle of moving some stuff around when my son shouted, "Look Mama, I made an 'M'!" I turned to see him standing with his legs wide apart and holding with one hand, the shears fully opened. I could see it, too. The shadow that he cast had the shape of 'M' in it.

Shadow Letter Play
I took a quick picture and then retrieved the shears. They are, after all, not a toy. But I did not scold him for playing with his shadow and the shears. Instead, I focused on how I liked how observant he must have been so see a letter in his own shadow.

At almost-six years old, this little guy struggles to write is own name. However, it does not mean that his mind does not perceive the alphabet. It does not mean that he cannot put the letters together to spell. It does not mean that he is failing in his academic life. If anything, it frustrates him to no end that his fingers fail him creative energy.

So I write this post to urge you to find the places in your child's life where he or she is practicing literacy skills. Even if, especially if, they are in unconventional places or ways. Because in their actions, looks, words and steps, they will develop the way they learn, their learning character.

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