I'm a teacher. Both by profession and by nature. My mom was a teacher, my sister is/was a teacher, my mother in law was a teacher. It's all around, and it's all I know. Watching a child learn something new rocks my world. And I get to see it everyday in my classroom or middle school students.
But, to be honest, at the end of a teaching day, I'm tired. Unfortunately, this means that my own boys don't get nearly as much academic enrichment at home as one might think. Part of this has to do with my strong belief that they are working at learning all day, and at home we work at playing in the evenings. And so, for the most part, I'm ok with the Legos/blocks/dress up that dominate our after school hours.
Until something catches my eye. And the other day, it was the way that my oldest was writing. Oooooh boy. He's trying to write all kinds of things - and a lot of it makes sense and is pretty legible (at least to this teacher mama). But the other day, it was the letter e. Oh man. It was screaming for help.
So, much to both of our surprise, I pulled out my teacher supplies - a small chalkboard and chalk. Why not pencil and paper? Because chalk and the chalkboard provide more resistance, which is helpful at this stage. It slows down the movement of the hand, and for him, helps him to be more deliberate. Then I made a grid on the chalkboard - lots of spaces to fill in makes it feel more like a game than just asking him to write a letter over and over again. I modeled writing an e, then held his hand and we made one together. Then he went to it. The first few were tough - he wanted to start the way he always had, so we made a dot for the starting point, then one for the second point, and from there he knew where to go. That only took 3 boxes, and after that he was off and writing.
When he was done, he headed to the easel to write some more. And when Dad got home, the oldest child modeled writing a "huge little e". He was so proud, and didn't feel like it was a chore, like I was afraid he would. Since then we've tackled a few other letters, usually at his request. And in other ways, we are tackling some of the same sorts of things with his little brother.