She carried around a bag of Bananagrams (letter tiles) all the time. She would shove it into my hands, and I would say, “Oh, you want me to make words for you?”
We would sit on the floor in the living room, and I would empty the bag of letter tiles. Then, I’d arrange letters into small words and read them to her.
By 24 months, she identified all letters and knew if they were upside down or sideways.
Eventually, though our letter game continued, she needed me less. One day, I said, “Are you making a word?” (In a video of this conversation, I ask her many times.) Finally, she answered, without looking up, “Letters make words.”
From that point on, I was a little uneasy about the fact that she seemed deaf so much of the time, yet she COULD hear me as she clearly demonstrated in the video. (We knew that her hearing was fine as she had been tested.) It was very confusing.
When she was 27 months, while at the ophthalmologist, I explained that the picture set was unnecessary: she could handle the letters for her exam. She was able to name all the letters that she could see, and the technician was shocked.
I explained that she wasn’t reading: Frances just knew the letters. What was even more unusual was that she had an incredible attention span with letters and could sit for an hour with her tiles (and then books).
By the age of three, though letters were still a big deal for her, Frances’s intense interest included numbers.