There is a window, a clear view into the moment a child “knows” … the look on the face when a detail has moved from the outside to inside that little mind. I saw that again yesterday.
A mom and her toddler son visited Counterpane wanting to sign up for the free Souns Early Literacy Workshops (ELW) we have about every two weeks during school sessions. Meeting a lovely, engaging mom and a lively, smiling, attentive young man of about 14 months was a delight.
I had the time and chose to share the concept of Souns so they would know what to expect at her first ELW this Friday. I fetched the first four Souns letters – /o/m/s/t/ – and sat down on the floor with the child. I introduced each, one at a time, and he spent several minutes exploring their shapes, sometimes two or three in hand at a time. Ready smiles intertwined with play with the symbols…moving them from one corner of the room to another on tip-toes all the way. He would place one on the floor, exchange one for another, dance about, and repeat.
When it was time to go, I asked if I could write the four sounds on his hands. Both mom and child agreed. I carefully wrote the /o/m/s/t/ – one on the top of each hand and one inside each hand. As he was walking out, mom and I discussed how she could reinforce the work at home. When the child heard us say /o/ that lttle body stopped, he looked at the hand that had the /o/ on it and then over at us. It was one of those moments where the eyes speak, “I know!”
As a professional I have used Souns in therapeutic play, as a teacher, and as a classroom facilitator; but Souns is so much more personal to me and my family. We introduced Souns to our toddler and enjoyed watching him begin to mouth and sound out the alphabet one symbol at a time. As he began to identify these symbols on placards and traffic signs we started the exciting process of blending sounds and later decoding. During this process my son was identified as having pervasive developmental delays. Now, at age eight, he still works hard on self regulation and focus, but demonstrates fifth grade reading comprehension, is writing in a journal most days, and loves to read at night before he falls asleep.
This personal process helped me to identify other children who were able to learn letter sound recognition using Souns. As a special needs teacher in a DIR/Floortime school I used Souns to give meaning to the alphabetic symbols when children had memorized the letter names. Some of my non-verbal students were able to give the sound of a letter as the first means of language. A child may not be able to say cookie but could grab the “c” cuh to express what s/he wanted.
I have also used Souns to help children who struggle with fine-motor delays. Using the large letters, children are able to “write” words and short sentences by placing the letters together to form phonetically spelled words. The child is able to produce inventive writing while their fine motor skills continue to develop.
Both personally and professionally Souns has proven to be a remarkable tool when introduced playfully and strategically during the appropriate developmental level.
Another beautiful morning observing, discussing, and exploring “child” at Counterpane’s Free Early Literacy Workshops. Follow the hands and find learning. Information about “the hand and the brain” can be found in Lillard and Jessen’s Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three.
Counterpane Interact Club sponsored by Rotary Club of Peachtree City, GA (D6900) supporting Babies-Can’t Wait 2013!
If your child is enrolled in Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program in Fayette or Coweta Counties, he or she is eligible to receive, free-of-charge, certain materials from the Souns for Literacy program. This is being provided through the generous giving of those who support the Counterpane Golf Classic. Counterpane is grateful to our community and for our ability to give to children beyond our walls. Together, we have helped hundreds of Babies Can’t Wait families build literacy through Souns.
Recent national research in early learning is pointing to the need to expose children under three to the printed symbol, thus combatting our rising problems with childhood literacy in this country. The research also confirms that the method of teaching reading to children that shows significant success is one that exposes children to learning the sounds of the alphabet. The Souns method works by caregivers giving their child lower-case letter shapes (4 inch, hard, nylon symbols) and using the most common letter sounds instead of the letter names to describe them to the child. The method uses natural learning through play and parent interaction. For a full description and photos please
read the Souns White Paper.
Babies Can’t Wait is committed to helping children achieve their full potential through supporting a family’s capacity to give their children all the opportunities available to them. Providers in the Babies Can’t Wait program in Fayette County are trained in implementing the Souns method of literacy and can guide caregivers through the process while they are enrolled in Babies Can’t Wait. Once the child exits the Babies Can’t Wait program they can still continue to work with Souns materials and receive support through monthly visits to the Peachtree City Public Library, or attending Counterpane School’s free Early Literacy Workshops The only thing requested of the caregivers is open communication about their needs as they implement the program with their child. We realize importance of individualization for families and children.
The image above comes from our archives and reflects when each letter was crafted in wood. We thank United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta for funding molds for Souns. While wood is beautiful, it breaks and is not as easily cleaned as the nylon. Counterpane seeks support for this outreach program. Consider playing in our annual Golf Classic, designed specifically for our literacy outreach locally.
Please consider joining in our extended community to help this cause.