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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

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Until the child obtains from written words transmission of
ideas, he does not read.

We may say that writing, as it has been described, is an act
in which the psycho-motor mechanism predominates; in reading,
on the contrary, we reach purely intellectual work. But it is-
evident that our way of teaching writing prepares for reading so
as to render the difficulties involved almost unnoticeable. Writing
prepares the child for interpreting mechanically the union of the
letter-sounds which are the components of the word which he sees
written. The child, therefore, can already read the sounds of the
word. We notice that when the child composes the word from the
movable alphabet, he has time to think of the signs which he must
choose or make; the writing of a word takes a long time compared
with that needed for the reading of it.

The child who can write, when he is confronted with a word
to be interpreted by reading, is silent for a long time, and generally
reads the component sounds as slowly as if he were writing them.
The sense of the word is grasped when it is pronounced not only
in a hurry but with the necessary phonetic accents. Now in order
to place the phonetic accents, it is necessary that the child should
recognize the word, the idea which it represents; therefore a higher
activity of intelligence must be brought into play.

For practice in reading I, therefore, proceed in the following
way, and what I am about to describe is a substitute for the old
spelling-book, I prepare labels from sheets of ordinary writing-
paper, on each of which there is written in running hand one
centimetre high, some well-known word which has already been
pronounced many times by the child, and which represents objects-
present or well-known. If the word refers to an object which
is present, I place this under the child's eye, in order to make the
meaning of the reading easier. In this connection I may mention
that most of these objects are toys. The Children's Houses possess
not only the kitchen utensils, the kitchen, the balls and the dolls
which I already have had occasion to mention, but also cup-
boards, divans, beds—all furniture necessary for a doll's house;