Yesterday my 5yo took a broken keyboard (from which we'd clipped the USB cable, making it a toy) and a magnetic Doodle Pro and propped them up on his wooden workbench to make a "computer" with a screen into which he could enter text.
He asked me to write his name on the "screen" so he could copy it. (That's my writing at the top of his Doodlepro.) Then he dutifully pecked out each letter on the keyboard, and picked up the magnetic stylus on its tether to write the letter on the screen.
I wrote the name at first with just the initial capital letter, and he insisted on my changing it to all caps. He rejects the notion that a lowercase "e" belongs in the middle of his name.
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We've been working on letter sounds and reading words with short vowels in them for most of this school year, not as consistently as I would like, but enough that he can blend well, even though he often needs to be reminded of the difference between a "b" and a "p" and a "d," and sometimes I have to remind him of others, especially "n" and "f." Even though those aren't perfectly mastered, I started moving on to the digraphs: "sh" and "er" (for /ɜr/ as in fern) and "ai" (for /eɪ/ as in fail) and "th" only for /θ/ as in both -- /ð/ as in bother waits till much later in my system. At first, I teach a single sound to go with each digraph.
A couple of days ago I introduced "ee" for /iː/ as in "seed," telling him that when we write two e's together, we usually spell the sound /iː/, and my 5yo told me: "That is not an E. An E has three lines that go across."
I explained about capital letters, took my dry erase marker and wrote a capital A and a lowercase a, a capital B and a lowercase b, continued through to the E and the e.
He said: "In my name there is an E, and it has three lines that go across."
I said, "We have worked with the letter "e" before, only we have always had it spell the sound /ɛ/. Like this," and I wrote r e d on the board. "Rrrrrruh. /ɛ/. D. Red."
He looked at me skeptically for a minute and then said: "Okay, mom. How about this. When you want it to say /ɛ/ you will write it that way. And when you want it to say EEEEEEE like in my name you will write it with the three lines that go across."
Oh, child. That would make sense, wouldn't it.
"That is a good idea," I told him, "to write different symbols for different sounds. Some languages are written that way, and it makes them easy to learn to read. But unfortunately, ours is not, and we all have to learn how to read it the way that it is written in our books."
My little spelling reformer. Maybe I should have gone the medieval route and taught him to read in Latin first, adding English reading at the advanced level of decoding. The system has its appeal.