My five-year-old son reviews: The Hebrew Language
Okay, so he’s not really reviewing the Hebrew language, but he is learning it. Wanting to spend more time with my kids this summer, and seeing a voracious appetite for learning in my five-year-old son, I offered to help him learn a language. I told him I could offer Hebrew (of the biblical variety), Greek (koine/New Testament), and Spanish.
He opted for Hebrew. Thinking about demographic trends in the U.S. these next few decades, I gently pushed back: How about Spanish? No. Hebrew. He wanted to learn Hebrew. So we’ve begun.
We’ve been using materials from Sarah and David, a publishing company that specializes in Hebrew language materials for children. The materials are organized in stages, with learning the letters first, then a focus on reading, then finally speaking Hebrew. Here’s a curriculum overview in their own words:
The Sarah and David curriculum was built backwards from Bar/Bat Mitzvah with the goal of addressing reading difficulties students continue to have with accuracy and fluency in the upper grades. Beginning with The Aleph Bet Story and through to The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Book, both teachers and students have a consistent approach to use from year to year to reinforce letters, vowels and reading skills.
Using the curriculum, schools have found that they can introduce the reading process early, teachers learn instructional cues to guide the learning and students practice skills that can be applied to any reading exercise or text. Used in religious schools across the county, the reading program has also proven to be helpful to resource room teachers, special needs and late-start students, and adult learners.
The very friendly folks at Sarah and David sent us most of the Part One materials for review (and set us up with a Web account, which you can purchase here). My five-year-old and I have had just over two weeks so far with The Aleph Bet Story, The Aleph Bet Story Activity Book, The Aleph Bet Story Workbook, The Sarah and David Read Hebrew Primer (from Part Two of the curriculum), and The Aleph Bet Story Audio CD.
We’ll offer a multi-part review as we continue to work our way through the materials. For now, I offer praise for the effectiveness of the learning system. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Or in the bathtub letters, in this case. After less than a week with the materials, my five-year-old son had used bath time to make this:
From right to left (how you read Hebrew), that’s shin and sin, which look like this:
Cool, huh? I never would have thought to do that.
My five-year-old loves these materials. Nearly every morning on his drive with me to pre-K, we listen to the CD. Nearly every night when I ask him to pick a book to read, he picks one of the Sarah and David books. And he often reads them on his own, or practices the writing and other exercises in the activity book and workbook. I don’t want to be *that dad* who makes his kids learn biblical languages before they can even read Captain Underpants, so I haven’t pushed much at all. He’s really enjoyed learning Hebrew with very little prodding from me.
This has all been really fun for us lately, and Sarah and David has made the learning process smooth and enjoyable.
Thanks to Sarah and David for the books and Web account for the purposes of review. I promised them only honesty, so they have not expected anything of our review. Expect more this summer as we continue to review the materials and learn Hebrew together.