Saturday, July 21, 2012

Letters & numbers, and learning about learning

Today Holly wanted to "do school". I suggested she practice writing "3's". She tried, became frustrated after her first attempt, and decided to show me how she could write her name in lower case. She has avoided writing lower case letters for some time, so when she wrote a perfect little "h". I was surprised and delighted. I quelled my desire to focus on the fact that names start with capital letters. Instead I focused on how lovely her little h was, and showed her that if she can write a little "h", then she could write an "n" and "m". Then she ran and grabbed her Getty-Dubay handwriting book (which she has adamantly protested in the past) and did the "h" page. She became frustrated with the "m" & "n" pages and decided she wanted to do something else. I decided that mastery of one lowercase letter was good for 1 day. Especially a Saturday.

However, somehow the conversation returned to writing numbers. Holly said she could write some of her numbers, so I asked her to show me. With a little verbal guidance and encouragement she wrote all the numbers 1 through 13! This is the first time she has written all of the numbers correctly.
I thought we were done with school. Holly decided to play with our letter puzzles, Since Heather was still sleeping, she wanted me to play with her. So as she found the letters and built the words I started talking about phonics with her - blends, silent vowels, the "sh" sound, etc...

Now Heather is up and they are "reading" their library books to each other, actually they are narrating to each other. So, it is now 10am on a Saturday morning. If we had followed my plan Holly would have written some "3's". But since I was willing to drop my plan we have started on lower case letters, we have covered some phonics and reading comprehension, and Holly wrote every number, including "3"!

I am learning so much about learning through observing my girls. Handwriting curricula never starts with lower case h. Phonics curricula doesn't teach "sh" before you master cvc words. But this is how Holly is learning. And how I am learning that curriculum needs to be a tool not a taskmaster, and that my plan for teaching needs to adjust as interests are expressed. The fabulous thing is that we still get there. We still got a beautiful "3", but we also got so much more!

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