It’s no secret that getting Monkey to read and write has been a struggle. It’s been at the bottom of his list of priorities; building train tracks is way more important, obviously. Since starting in Year One I can see real progress on the reading front. He’s gone up two reading bands in a term, and when he’s bothered, he can read well. He loves phonics and although his preference is always for me to read to him, I can see that we are making headway, its coming, it’s there. Writing has been a whole other battle. It’s been hard work to get Monkey to even write his name at times, whenever homework has come home that involved writing rather than drawing or making something, it’s honestly filled me with dread. We’ve gone for the ‘less is more’ approach, and even that has caused a lot of tantrums, tears and heartache. I certainly never envisaged receiving love letters from my son. In fact, receiving any sort of letter from him seemed like a distant dream, very far away on the horizon.
But all of a sudden so many things seem to be falling into place for this 6 year old. The games which started off as journeys to hell and back have become something he actually seems to enjoy. I know! Hold the front page. He came running out of class on Friday, Mummy, Mummy, I got 6 out of 6. I always want to do that, or get 7, 8 or even 9. Wow Monkey, that’s great news, and a really good attitude to have. Of course the Friday spelling test has involved Monkey practicing his words at home every day. With games, magnetic letters and actual writing. He’s actually started to volunteer working on his spelling lists at the breakfast table. I’m not going to discourage that any time soon.
Spellings and writing go hand in hand. Monkey has a long way to go with his letter formation, he starts a lot of his letters in the wrong place. I think that’s quite common and probably being a leftie adds to the confusion. I can’t remember how I tackled it all when I was his age, I have a feeling I was much keener than Monkey to practice! But having maintained the backwards tick all my life, which for a leftie is totally natural, I can understand the leftie logic of finishing a letter where most others would start it. But, obviously we need to work on his letters or he will have all sorts of problems when he starts trying to join them up!
But for now, just seeing him writing, willingly and practicing his spellings has been a revelation. Little signs have been written and stuck to his bedroom door, his actually written more than just his name in some birthday cards recently, he’s got a way to go, but it’s a start.
Something rather wonderful happened on Wednesday last week. Monkey had come home from school and was drawing round mine and Daddy P’s hands and then writing out in numbers how big he thought they were. Then he disappeared up to his bedroom with his pad and pencil. I thought he was making more signs for his railway or drawing round something else he wanted to measure. Wrong, so wrong.
He’d been busy and I was to receive love letters from my son. He walked into the kitchen, Mummy, I’ve written something for you.
Mum I lov yoo – this may not seem like that big a deal, but for us it’s quite wonderful, to be presented with another little note, just made the moment extra special.
I lov bof ov yoo and the best Mum and Dad – so it’s not perfect, but the thought behind it is, and right now that’s all that matters to me. Monkey went off and wrote something without being asked or prompted. It came from the heart, his heart, he wrote it and to me that’s flipping magical.
I won’t lie, I’m envious when friends tell me about how well their children are writing, how their child has written a story book to go with a home work task, when I’ve struggled to get Monkey to write 5 words. Bringing home Swampy’s diary to fill in a few weeks ago felt more like a punishment than a reward, but maybe the dreaded spelling lists are giving Monkey the confidence to write more at home. I always leave his pencil-case open on the kitchen table, with paper close at hand, so as and when the feeling takes him he can put pen to paper. Maybe, just maybe I’ll get more love letters from my son in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m happy with what I have.