There Is No ffffffffff In Cup!


Strange blog title, indeed. I’ll explain.


I work with kindergarteners in my afternoons with letter recognition, sound recognition of letters, beginning word sounds, and ending word sounds. Super duper important things to learn because it’s the basis of all reading and writing. To read, one must know letter shapes, letter sounds, and the ability to hear them. I’m watching with utter amazement these beginner readers progress through the process of achieving these skills. Some can do it well. Others struggle. Since it’s still early in the school year, a typical help session goes like this:


“What is the first sound you hear in cup?”


“ffffffff” or “ssssssss” are common responses when the students haven’t mastered the ability to hear the sound, recognize it, and dissect it from the whole word. Whatever sound they can think of is offered as an answer to my question.


“There’s no ffffffff in cup,” I tell them.




I try again, “Cup. ccc-uhh-ppp.”


I stretch out the word as much as I can to aid the students in hearing the three sounds that compose the word. “What is the first sound I make when I say cup?”




I marvel how I learned this skill seeing how difficult it is for these students. I marvel at my daughter’s achievement in this area, too. I marvel at everyone’s ability!


I try to contemplate ways to make it easier for these students to “get it” because I know the sooner they have this skill in their pockets, the better for them. While frustrating because from my perspective letter-sound recognition is sooooo easy now, I know by the end of the year they’ll have gained this vital reading and writing skill. 


It’s the same with middle schoolers, yes?


Skills we adults see as sooooooo easy now are hard for them…or at least a challenge. Organization. Time management. Meeting deadlines (essay due dates). Keeping a schedule. Asking for help from an authority person. Handling difficult people. Getting over breakups. Seeing a manipulative person for who he or she is. Ignoring negative people. Understanding societal boundaries. Focusing in an environment that is teeming with distraction.


How tempting it is to yell in parental frustration, “Turn in your homework every day for every class!” or “Keep your work in each folder for each class so you know where it is!” or “Write down EVERYTHING in your agenda!” or “Ignore gossip!” or “Just talk to the teacher!”


Here’s the good news: They’ll eventually get it. Keep reminding…preferably without yelling. Smile a lot. Love your middle schooler and remind that he or she eventually have it all together. This is the point and purpose of middle school! It’s such a transitionary period for these students, just like it is for kindergarteners, and they will eventually gain these skills that will serve them just as vitally as knowing letter and letter sounds. 



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