268 THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD
is fixed in a much shorter time than when, by the usual methods,
' it is acquired only through the visual image.
We notice then that the muscular memory is most tenacious
in the small child, and at the same time the readiest. Sometimes
he does not recognize the letter when he looks at it, but does so
when he touches it.
These images are at the same time associated with the hearing
of alphabetic sounds.
SECOND STAGE: PERCEPTION
The child must be able to compare and recognize the figures
when he hears the sounds corresponding to them.
The mistress asks the child in the case mentioned above (and
analogously she will proceed with the other letters): "Give me
" o'! Give me ' i M " If the child cannot recognize the signs when
he looks at them, he is invited to trace them; but, if even then he
-does not recognize them, the lesson is finished and will be taken
up again some other day. (The need not to stress an error and
not to insist on the lesson when the child does not respond at once
;has been already dwelt upon in another chapter.)
THIRD STAGE: LANGUAGE
The child must know how to pronounce the sound corres-
ponding to the alphabetic signs.
After the letters have been in use for some time and the
second stage has met with success, the child is asked: " What is
this? " He> ought to answer: " 0," " i," etc.
In teaching the consonants the mistress pronounces only the
-sound, and directly she has pronounced it she links it up with a
word and she goes on pronouncing several words with that letter,
always emphasizing the sound of the consonant. Finally she
repeats the sound by itself " m, m, m ".
It is not necessary to teach all the vowels before passing on
to the consonants, and as soon as one consonant is known it is