The Great Letter Debate


Conner loves to practice letters. He knows the letters C, O, and P and is so eager to learn more letters he begs us to sit and do flashcards with him. Some of these sessions last up to an hour. He's very motivated since his big brother can now do all the letters. 

Here's how it works. Conner insists on sitting in a chair while I show him the flash cards. If he knows the letter he yells it out.  If he doesn't he stealthily looks over to his brother for help. Alex then swoops in and whispers the answer to him. This lead to the following event:

Me: "Ok Conner next letter."

Conner: [Screams] "C!"

Me: "Good!" [turns over the next flash card]

Conner: [Screams] "O!"

Me: "Excellent!" [turns over the next flash card]

Conner: [eyes peak over at Alex]

Alex: [swoops in and whispers] "Z"

Conner: [confidently to Alex] "That's not C"

Alex: [swoops back in and whispers] "Zeeee"

Conner: [More defiantly looking at Alex] "That's not a C!"

Alex: [swoops back in again and whispers] "No ZZeeeeeee"

Conner: "Stop it Alex! I know that's not a C!!!"

This went on a few more times until it became clear that Conner had no knowledge that a letter "Z" existed, and if I didn't intercede he was going to attempt to physically stop Alex from giving him what he believed to be the wrong answer.  So, stifling back giggles over the preceding dialog I introduced Conner to Zebras, Zoos and Zippy the wonder slug.

A few days have passed since that session and Conner still knows the letter Z. He can identify it in a split second. Yet I've shown him the letter H in calm situations at least 30 times and he still doesn't recognize it.

Never has it been more apparent that heightened emotion facilitates learning than with the way that Conner learned the letter Z.