For the past month or so, my older son has been showing increasing interest in the alphabet and letters. He was always big on the alphabet song itself, had yet to appreciate the true utility of the letters. Over the holidays, after some extended reading sessions with his grandparents, he seems to have made that connection between printed and spoken word. To a parent this is of course most exciting!

The most apparent manifestation of his discovery is a newfound obsession with pointing out recognized letters as we read, and actively seeking his favourites. I have been introducing new ones regularly which seems to be going well. He also seems more obsessed with the alphabet song than before, which is really saying something.

While adding header files to new code modules at work this week, I realized that I still make regular use of my ability to order things alphabetically on a near-daily basis. I no longer truly require the song, as that knowledge has long since gelled. However, I do remember singing the song to myself in my head through elementary school when doing alphabet-ordering tasks. It is one of the oldest and deepest intellectual skills I still rely on.

Learning the alphabet - not simply the first steps of literacy, which is of course a critical skill, but the simple ordering of the letters - is in itself a life skill. It is gratifying watching and helping my son through the early stages of what I hope will be a fulfilling journey, and knowing that he is learning something he will use for the rest of his life.