Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ready to Write

I bought some writing activity books last year (middle of the year I think) for my little boy to use so he can learn how to write letters and numbers and practice his writing skills.  I tried different strategies to motivate him to practice writing.  I chose a Mickey Mouse inspired writing book with pictures of objects to color.  I also bought a connect the dots writing book that uses numbers as guide for children to connect the dots and another coloring book that uses the letters of the alphabet to guide children to connect the dots.  His Occupational Therapist gave him stickers as rewards when he finished writing tasks.  We were all set for our writing lessons last year... or so I thought.
I bought the Draw and Color and My Big Book of Dot-to-Dot.  My mom bought the third book for her grandson.

There were days when my boy liked connecting the dots to complete the drawings of objects in his writing book.  There were lots of days when he liked to color the objects after completing the drawings.  But most days, he simply didn't like to trace the letters on his writing books.  So, months passed and I just realized that he hardly used his writing books to practice his writing skills.  I noticed though that we were able to practice his writing skills through other activities we did like our art projects which he loved doing and looked forward to.  I chose not to force him especially whenever he begins telling me that he doesn't want to connect dots or trace letters and numbers anymore.  Instead, I gave him other activities which also enhanced and improved his fine motor skills.  I let him play with toys he can manipulate, with building blocks and clay and sand.  I let him doodle and engage in coloring activities.  We let him string beads and we did finger painting.  My stand is that if he isn't ready, I will not force him to do an activity.  I will try to motivate and encourage him but if he doesn't respond to that, I'll think of another activity he'd find more interesting.  I'm able to do this because my husband and I have decided to homeschool him during his formative years. 

This was what he answered. :)

I was thus surprised one evening last week when I saw him get one of his writing books.  I thought he simply wants to color again.  But he said he wants to trace the letters.  He traced some letters on the first page.  Then, I encouraged him by telling him that he can have some chocolate if he'd finish tracing all the letters from A-Z.  I was not expecting him to finish tracing the letters in one sitting.  I was thinking that he can choose to finish the task in the next days and then that's when he can claim his reward.  But what happend next surprised me.  He just kept on tracing more letters, turning from one page to the next!  When I realized that he might finish everything that evening, I reminded him of our house rule that he can't have chocolate at night or in the evenings anymore.  He can claim his reward the following day after his lunch.  He seemed unfazed.  He went on to finish the rest of the pages in his writing book!  Wow!  He was very happy and proud of his accomplishment!  So was I!

Aside from finishing his writing book, my little boy impressed me too by answering more activity books -- one in Math and another on Phonics.  He has answered some of the pages when he was younger with me helping him write some of the numbers as he answer them.  That evening however, he wrote the numbers himself on the blanks without asking for my help.  His penmanship isn't nice yet but readable already.

Yanthy first answered most of the pages of these books when he was around 2 years old. 
He finished answering all the remaining pages last week, around a year later.

I praised and thanked the Lord for allowing me to witness these developments in my son.  I felt that God was encouraging me in our homeschooling journey that evening.  He also taught me some lessons.

Here they are:

First lesson: when a child is ready to learn, he himself will find a way to learn even on his own.  This was what I saw my son do when he got his book on his own and began writing.  He was interested to learn and he had a goal in mind.  He wanted to trace letters.  And that what he did!

Second, a child who is motivated can not only achieve his goals but he can even surpass our expectations.  Thus, it's important to know the child so we can find out what motivates him and use these information to develop his skills to his advantage.

Third, when kids are ready and having fun, learning becomes easy and natural.

My son has yet to finish answering his other writing books but I'm not worried.  I know that one of these days he can surprise me again by choosing to work on them.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying our times together learning everyday about life and about each other.

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