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Look Ma, Letters!
August 17, 2009
by Elaine of "Angelolli"
I am a writer, so in the interest of projecting all my hopes and ambition of winning the Pulitzer Prize someday on my daughter, I have been making on-again, off-again efforts to get her to read and write. These are ideas that every mother can incorporate into their daily routines.
When she was a few months old, I used flash cards that my mom gave me, but I didn’t find them very effective. Then I discovered Dr Seuss, which we both enjoyed immensely. Hooper Humperdink was her favorite, and before she turned two, she could memorize the words, usually finishing off the sentences as I read them.
Last year, I got her a set of fridge magnet alphabets, which she mainly used to hold her art on the fridge. But over the last few weeks, she has been taking the letters down and asking me to form words with her. She can spell four words: duck, red, cat and dog.
When she started school early this year, I got her into the habit of doing ‘homework’ every night, partly to get her to watch less TV, but also as a chance for me to spend some time with her. Trust me, telling a 3-year-old you want to spend time with her will just send her scampering in the opposite direction. So I told her we’re doing ‘homework’, which sounds very important and adult to her.
During these ‘homework’ sessions, we will draw and paint, print letters and numbers, do jigsaw puzzles or read. Now that her fine motor skills are getting better, we are ‘doing’ more than reading, which is fine with me. She loves printing letters and numbers.
Her first writing project was making her own books. She loves to tell stories and having me tell stories to her, so I got her to start drawing the characters in her stories as she makes them up. I will give her four blank pages (I find if I give her too many pages, she loses interest) to work with and after she is done, I’ll staple them together and she’ll have her own book! This is a great way to train her creative mind, and to formulate a storyline. I never put words on the pages that she draws, for that trivializes her story. So every time we revisit her books, she will add another element to her stories.
Another of her favorite writing activities is writing letters. I brought home a stack of used thick envelopes from the office, thinking that she could use them for her craft projects. She took one look at the envelopes and got busy with pen and paper for about five minutes. When she put her head up, she grinned and told me she had written a mail. She carefully inserted her scribbles into the envelope, got out her sticker book and promptly put a sticker on the top right corner of the envelope. I really don’t know where she got the idea to do all these, because in this age of emails and the internet, no one in the house has written a physical letter in ages! So now, whenever she feels like it, she’ll write letters for us (which is actually her printing our names), and our living room cupboard has become her mail box. Whenever her father and I came home from work, she would say, “Mommy, there’s a mail for you in the mail box.”
Yesterday, I have her some shopping vouchers to play with, and our couch has been turned into her shop. I have to buy pretend bags and lipsticks from her with the same three vouchers the whole night. Conveniently, each bag and lipstick that I buy cost three vouchers. This weekend, I’ll be printing some pretend money and coins and we’re all set to learn about numbers!
Every day I am amazed at how fast she is learning. She constantly surprises and amuses me with her new found knowledge and fresh take on everyday life. She has also taught me to be more relaxed, letting her learn at her own pace. Now she is hankering for music lessons, but her fingers are not quite ready for piano yet. She plays pretend recitals all the time on the keyboard I got for her and she pulls a mean toy violin! She is also a budding ballerina who can do turns and twirls in grand performances that she stages in the living room.
I can’t wait to go home from work today and see what other grand schemes she has hatched for me to join. Homework sure is going to be fun tonight!
Elaine scrambles to keep up with her 3-year-old and 9-month-old daughters, and wonders if the job might be too big for her. Of course it is! That’s why she tries extra hard to be the mother her daughters deserve. Read more of her adventures.