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6:17 A.M.

Anna: Mama, you know how it says “The Solar System” on the wall of my classroom? Well, it really says ‘The space solar space system space.’

Me: (Yawn) Um, what sweetie?

Anna: On the wall. It really says, “The space solar space system space.” You know, you have to put a space in-between words otherwise it just says gobbledy-gook.

Me: Oh, right! Of course.

Anna: O.K.

Anna is developing a concept of word (COW) — that critical skill or concept that matches the spoken and written word. Many young children reach it without much special attention or instructional focus. Other students will need more practice matching specific speech to words. Darrell Morris at Appalachian State University has thoroughly studied COW, and concludes that COW attainment is a critical step in the progression of early literacy skills — specifically, the ability to recognize initial consonants facilitates COW which facilitates phoneme segmentation, which promotes word recognition.

Several instructional techniques (opens in a new window) can be used to teach COW, and the Get Ready to Read site offers 36 activity cards (opens in a new window) for use with an individual child or a group of children, in English and in Spanish.

All I know is that at 6:17 AM, I feel happy that Anna has reached this milestone. But I wonder… could it have waited until 7 AM?

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
April 3, 2007