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    “A” is Not For Apple

    June 29, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I mentioned a week or so ago that I’ve been rereading my preschool resources in order to inspire myself to be more deliberate with A.’s education. I feel compelled to also mention that if any “formal” lessons occur at all, they would be about five minutes in length. Usually, though, being deliberate refers to making better use of life as it happens rather than sitting my two-year-old down to a formal lesson.

    However, we have sat down to lessons on color on occasion, primarily because an every-so-often formal lesson makes her feel like she is Big Like Brother. It’s cute the way she enjoys it, and I like cute. Englemann, in Give Your Child a Superior Mind suggests beginning not with, “This is blue and this is red,” but, rather, “This is blue and this is not blue.” Here is his example:

    Isolate the notion by presenting two identical objects {such as balls or blocks} of different colors. Acknowledge that you are presenting objects. “Blocks.” Now point to one of them. “Red block. Red.” Now present thing else–a book or a piece of paper–that is red. “Red book. Red.” Finally, present something that is not red. Ask the question, “Is this red? No, this is not red.” Present only one color at a time, and concentrate on the most vivid colors–red, yellow, blue, white, black.

    Not that we are introducing letters now, but if we were, we certainly would not say that A is for apple, because it isn’t:

    During the first two or three lessons, let the child become familiar with the [alphabet] book. He’ll pay more attention to the objects pictured on each page than to the letters. Identify the objects in the pictures. “Well, this looks like a ball, but it’s really an apple. See the stem?” Next point out the letter. “Look here. This is a letter. And the name of this letter is A.”

    “Leaf.”

    “Yes, that’s a leaf coming out of the apple’s stem. But look at this thing. This is A. Can you say A?”

    “A.”

    “Good.”

    Do not indicate that “A is for apple.” A is not for apple and it should never be presented in this manner because the relationship is obvious only to those who know how to read and can see that the first letter in the word apple is an A. For the beginner, “A is for apple” is a false rule, and the potential source of a basic misunderstanding.

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