“Can you touch an /o/?” asks Rotarian Robby Dale Nelson.
I thank this community for reminding me, once again, of the difficult path to simple.
I am convinced that to be a teacher (myself included) is to be first and foremost a learner. As many times as I have observed and participated in a child’s learning…as much information as I have taken into that moment to teach the child…I have never left the experience without being the primary learner. Surprisingly, the lesson seems always to be keep it simple. The child will take the simplest of lessons to the depths of his or her interest…or there will be no learning.
In a classroom learning to implement Souns, the simple, incidental, easy style of the program is closeted by our predispostion as excellent, committed teachers to plan every detail of a day so that we can feel we have done our best. Yet, we rarely feel we have enough time in a day to do all we want to do. I feel that way myself visiting the classrooms and assisting teachers in understanding this program. I complicate, they complicate, we all are driven to complicate. We would be well advised to follow the child a bit more. They linger, examine, build knowledge, linger some more…roll around and speak to a friend, or stare out a window…then back to lingering, examining, and building.
So how does this relate to teaching Souns? How do we fit “another program” into an already packed-full day with cultural studies, self-esteem activities, social courtesy lessons, etc.? First, and most difficult, is to understand Souns is an unprogram. Souns is meant to be a part of the environment – as important, incidental, and consistant as food, clothing, and kindness. That is hard to do, as we have burdenened writing and reading with academic weight. Language is treated naturally, even joyfully, as little ones move into spoken communication. Progressing into writing and reading can be equally joyful and natural through intentional play. Play is how children learn. Souns is about intentional play.
“Look at the /s/ on your jacket!” is a lesson in Souns. “Did you hear the /h/ in home?” is a lesson in Souns. “Let’s find the sounds in dog.” is a lesson in Souns. It is a program that slips into the crevices of each day so filled with rich experiences planned by caring teachers. In all those experiences there are letter-sounds. Build excitement about listening to and identifying letter-sounds in the classroom. Keep it simple, play, have fun! Those little minds are always learning!