Book review, creativity, education, mindful parenting, movement, rhythm

The Missing Alphabet {A Book Review}

The Missing Alphabet: A Parents' Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids
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So this is a first for me — I’ve never reviewed a book on my blog before. But when I had the opportunity to review The Missing Alphabet, I just had to. I’m kind of a huge early childhood education nerd and I’m currently struggling with how to compliment/supplement my older daughter’s public school experience, so a book about fostering creativity in young children is basically written for me.

First of all, if you have come across this review because you are wondering if you should read this book, the answer is yes, you should. Second of all, if you regularly read my blog (thank you) and think this review isn’t for you, not so fast — I really believe the ideas in this book can apply to adults, too.

The main idea of The Missing Alphabet by Susan Marcus, Susie Monday, and Cynthia Herbert, PhD, is that the so called “three R’s” are not enough to educate and prepare our children to be the innovators of the future that we need them to be. In this assertion they lay out another “alphabet” that we should be teaching our children, or helping them experience. The authors propose bringing a sensory alphabet to the same level of importance that numbers and letters receive so that color, shape, line, texture, rhythm, movement, sound, light, and space and how children (and all people) relate to them are taken into account when deciding on an activity, occupation, or life direction.

I must say, I felt a little bit of validation when I read this book. Coming from a Montessori perspective, one of the things heavy on my mind has been how my six year old would adapt to her public school education and it’s focus on letters and numbers (and sitting) when she was used to moving about her environment and touching and experiencing things in order to learn more about them in a Montessori classroom for three years prior. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking about this! In fact, these authors have put a lot of time and effort and research into these very ideas and with their experiences have compiled many ideas and activities to integrate an awareness of the Sensory Alphabet into our day to day routines.

The concepts in this book will stick with me as guide my children through their school years, but will also inform me as I make choices about my own interests and pursuits. The idea of the sensory alphabet is one that already exists for anyone who has studied the arts, because the components are elements of design. In fact, the remarkable thing about the book isn’t necessarily the concept of the sensory alphabet, but the application of it to our everyday and ever changing lives and how necessary it really is. How are our children supposed to develop new ideas or technologies that we have never heard of or imagined if they have no experience thinking “outside the box” or manipulating strange materials or thinking of a concept from several directions? The way our public education system works right now does not allow teachers to focus on these concepts. We must, as parents and adults who care for them, help children find their way in the world, not just in a classroom setting but in life. And if we do so while being mindful of a new “sensory alphabet” we may just learn something, too.

{My thanks to Greenleaf Book Group LLC for providing me with a copy of The Missing Alphabet to review.}