Lyddie (nearly 7) asked me this last week, and I thought it a fascinating question. I answered with words to the effect of: “I think it’s when written words start making sense – when you can tell what they’re saying. Is that what you meant?”
She said: “Sort of… but what about when only some of the words make sense?” and I began to understand her reason for asking.
After some thought, I said: “Well, learning to read is a gradual process – it doesn’t happen all at once. I think that if you know how to break a word down into sounds and then say the sounds together to work out what it probably says, then you can read.”
I know, that’s not how everyone learns to read but it’s how Lyddie has learned, so she was happy with that answer.
She’s recently been to Emley Moor Mast which is quite near to where we live, and she wanted to know how it worked. Tom explained it to her, with many diagrams, over several sessions. She kept asking questions throughout, which I think is always a good sign that someone is engaged with the learning process and she now knows more about the workings of television transmitting stations than I do. She is generally more technically minded than me by aptitude. It’s lucky that Tom’s around to explain things, or I might be thinking about buying in some tuition for her at this point, if she wanted it, or at least having to look further afield than the people here for help in explanations.