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Syllables November 21, 2008

Filed under: social interaction,unschooling — Thinking Woman @ 5:42 pm
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Today, my daughter and I were singing together. My older daughter. For whatever reason, my younger daughter has always hated music and, until recently, freaked out if she heard us singing. She is finally starting to allow us to sing and play music, which is a huge relief as my older daughter and I used to sing all the time. We need more of that joy!

My younger daughter is, so far, sadly, distinctly untalented when it comes to producing music; no sense of rhythm, timing, nor melody. I had read in the Music Together information that any child, if exposed to music before age five, would be musical; that there was no such thing as tone deaf. I beg to differ.

Well anyway, whenever I hear a four syllable word with the right kind of rhythm, I start singing this funny little song. For example, “Phenomena” has me instantly singing “Do do do-do-do”.

I didn’t actually learn this song from The Muppets Show. I learned it from a college buddy who burst out in song with the “Do do do do” version I now know. I’ve noticed over the years that other words besides “phenomena” trigger this. Today, we were playing around with it and my older daughter was trying to do what I was doing; to come up with other words or phrases that would work. For example, she suggested “sandy beach”. I explained that no, it wouldn’t work because it only has three syllables, but “a sandy beach” would work.

Then we were off on learning about syllables. I do admit to feeling an occasional overwhelming sense of guilt that she doesn’t know this stuff by now, but then I push that aside. There is no need to know any certain thing by any certain age; she’ll get there in the order that happens for us.

Yes, it is time to dig more deeply into both English and Math, but as we have hit hurdles with concepts such as syllables in the past, the timing was obviously not right. Before, she would sound out a word as though she were trying to say it, like an early reader was. Well heck, she was an early reader. So she could get all sorts of extra syllables in there! Today, I tried a different approach. Rather than boring her with the technical definition of a syllable, I just looked around the room, named things while breaking the word distinctly into syllables and counting on my fingers, and waited while my girls repeated. (Isn’t it just so cool that the younger child joins in?)

After a while of this, I thought she had it. I quizzed her on a few and mostly she got it. When she got one wrong, I said it back to her in a sentence. To her “san-dee-bee-cha”, I replied, “Shall we go to a sandy beacha or a rocky beacha?” which resulted in howls of laughter, thank goodness. She really is quite sensitive to criticism so it is somewhat of an art to correct her without hurting her feelings. My younger daughter then went off on “beacha” and had herself a good little chuckle.

In the end, I think she got the concept of how to break a word into syllables and how to come up with four syllable words or phrases. I didn’t belabor the point and we were off singing again.