Della Palacios: Ah-Ha Moments

I registered for the Florida Literacy Conference on a whim.  My rationale went something like this, “Adult and Family Literacy certainly applies to SensAbleLearning, LLC, I’ll go.”   It was a very good whim  I followed.

Souns® is a hands-on phonemic awareness program inspired by the Montessori Method.   Letter sounds are taught before letter names.  It’s a simple switch with brilliant results.  Brenda Erickson, founder of Counterpane Montessori and creator of  Souns® , designed it for ages  0-3, but I have used it as intervention with children in high school and Brenda has used Souns® with adult refugees.  (I learned  Souns®  for my two children, then ages 3 and 4, now 4 and 5. They learned to read so naturally using  Souns®, I had the thought, “So many kids need this.”  And SensAble Learning, LLC was born.

At the conference, I had my first experience using Souns® with an adult learner.  He inquisitively looked at the Souns® symbols (letters) and I explained quickly how the program worked the first time he happened by.  I realized quickly that his curiosity was more than piqued as he touched the letters and said the sounds with me.  I wondered if he could read, but I did not ask.

He left to attend a workshop but he soon returned and apologized for having to leave.  I asked if he would like to sit and work with me for a bit using Souns®.  He said yes.  We went through each letter sound, just as the program suggests.  Most of the sounds he learned very quickly.  I have the tracking sheet we used. He did not recognize many of the letter sounds initially, but we practiced and he learned.  Next, I began building words with him using Souns® symbols and the objects I have ready in my box of three letter words.  With each new word he built, a smile stretched from ear to ear displaying his delight in what I can only assume is a new understanding of this mysterious language code.  I wish I had more time with this young man.

I loved every ah-ha moment that came across the faces of trained professionals, tutors and scholars  as they “got” how teaching sounds first before letter names removes much of the confusion not needed for a beginning reader.  But, the ah-ha that will remain in my heart is the one I saw in the smile of the curious young man.

Della Palacios

Founder and Owner of SensAble Learning, LLC

I am a traditionally trained teacher who chose to put my career and doctoral work on hold to stay at home and raise children.  Last year, I met Brenda Erickson, founder of Counterpane Montessori and the creator of Souns® .  The trajectory of my life has changed as we have joined hands to make sure kids will read, and read well.   I tell her she will be the bridge from Montessori to mainstream.  She tells me,  Souns® will be the bridge from Montessori to mainstream.

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