Teaching Your Kid to Read the Final Fantasy X Way

I recently came home from my first Student Curriculum Meeting at my daughter's elementary school where she's started kindergarten. I'm totally one of those parents that goes to every meeting and follows all the online updates and reads every single progress reports. Partly it's because I want to be that kind of dad, but it's also because I work from home as a writer and that makes you starved for human interactions in Meat World.

Part of the curriculum that they're starting is obviously reading. They do letter sounds, sure, and that's important, but they are also focused on key words.

So each week my daughter comes home with a little mini book that focuses on those words. Last week it was eight pages of things like "I see the apple" and "I see the octopus". The subjects are illustrated so most of the end of the sentences are context clues, but it oesn't take her long to recognize the three easy words.

Which is good because "the" is a really important word and trying to explain it phonetically to a five-year-old is murder.

This week was all food. "I like tacos" and "I like pizza" with the emphasis on "like". We're supposed to do this for ten minutes a night but she's gotten it perfectly by the second night.

In addition to the school reading we also do regular bedtime stories. Most of these are books that she's had read to her since she was born so she largely has them memorized. Sometimes that makes it difficult to try and get her to recognize the words because it's frustratingly slow compared to rote memorization that she's already got.

Since beginning the keywording, though, I've started pointing out the words on the page. It's not hard to cobble together "I", "like", "see", "do", and "you" from standard children's literature. It's a nice compromise because it doesn't make her sound out every single word, just focusing on the small ones that stand out from the rest of the page.

It also has been naggingly reminding me of something, and today I got it. I'm basically doing the Al Bhed Primer subquest from Final Fantasy X. That game has a fictional language that some of the characters use, but throughout the game are primers that will teach you more and more of it.

In practice this means that when you see a speech bubble in the Al Bhed language, some of it will remain incomprehensible, but word by word you slowly gain more and more as the gibberish is translated automatically into English.

I hated this subquest.

It's slow. It's frustrating. It feels completely pointless to the overall story, and it just seems mean to make someone go through all this just to play the game...

And with that I now get why my daughter would get so angry with me when I would make her plow through things phonetically. It's given me a new appreciation for a skill I take for granted and barely remember learning as well as making me think more highly of a part of a game I hated.

That's the fun part about kids. They teach you things you forgot you knew.

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