The ‘Z’ Sound of ‘S’ or Why We Unschool

You may have noticed the name of the blog: Melissaz Wordz. I love changing esses to zees when they make the ‘z’ sound.

In school I learned the letter ‘c’ made two sounds: the soft ‘c’ as in ceiling (sounds like an ‘s’), and the hard ‘c’ as in cat (sounds like a ‘k’.)

In school we also learn the letter ‘g’ has two sounds, soft like a ‘j’ in works like giraffe, and hard ‘g’ in girl.

Y can make three sounds: yellow, friendly (ee sound) and by (long i sound.)

But no one ever said or taught that ‘s’ has two sounds. Did you learn it? I expect not simply because they wouldn’t be able to say that the ‘c’ sometimes sounds like ‘s’. They’d have to say which ‘s’, and no one ever does.

In fact it was when my daughter was about 6 or 7 that she pointed it out to me, and I almost told her she was wrong. Why? Because not only didn’t I learn it but the Calvert Learning Guide Manual I was using at the time didn’t mention it either.

We homeschool and before I realized it was best to chuck the curriculum we used the Calvert curriculum (loosely, we’ve never been they type to follow any curriculum rigidly), provided by the  Pennsylvania Cyber Charter school. In fact the reason we joined this particular cyber school was because they offered this time-tested curriculum, and I didn’t have to use the school’s computer-based curriculum (I am not a fan of kids in front of computers.)

So as I was introducing the lesson about letters such as ‘c’ and ‘g’  making hard and soft sounds, she piped in, “and ‘s’!” And I said, “No, ‘s’ makes the ‘ssssss’ sound.”

“And ‘zzz’ too though,” she said.

“No….wait, what?”

“Like in ‘is’, ‘has’, and ‘these’, those are esses, right? But they sound like ‘zzz’. ”

She was absolutely right. Even though it didn’t say it anywhere in the curriculum and it took my adult mind a few minutes to wrap myself around it. All my life and I would never have said that ‘s’ has a hard and soft sound. But there it iz. What else had I been missing?

And so that is when I decided to stop trying to teach her stuff all the time. Instead I try to sit back and watch, and maybe learn a thing or two (or ten thousand), from her.


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