Roses are red....violets are blue....
5:15 am : The alarm rings again. I ‘Snooze’ it again and go back to sleep.
6:30 am : I wake up bleary eyed and wonder what was wrong with the alarm - Take one look at the time and rush out of bed!
For the next half hour I can only think of making lunch, breakfast, ironing clothes and making it to the school on time.
7:00 am : I go to wake my five-year old up. She opens her eyes, gives me a sweet smile and says “I don’t want to go to school today,” turns on her side, and goes back to sleep.
Huh! I was at a loss of words. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. One option was to let her sleep as long as she wanted and then take things during the day as they came. But then,what about the rest of the day? Her test in class…her homework… my work… So then, should I persuade and convince her to get out of bed and go to school? Knowing fully well that she didn't want that? But of course, she seemed to have more or less made her decision....
So, eventually, I went with the first choice. And I am glad I did.
Turns out, my girl did not want to go to school because she was being given a hard time by her teachers for her handwriting. They insisted she redo most of her work as it was really shabby and illegible. Now, in her defense, my daughter is artistically inclined. Not that that is an excuse for bad handwriting, but there is a certain discipline, a neatness and a lot of attention to detail that she displays in her pictures, that is very rare for a five year old. She is also (touch wood) an amazing reader. At this tender age, she has read an impressive number of books, many of them meant for far older kids than she. So truth be told, I would rather happily let her be when it comes to bad handwriting for the time being. But her problem, as I came to understand, was beyond the ‘beauty’ part of the handwriting.
After a cup of hot chocolate and her favourite breakfast of pancakes (choco-chip) and syrup (lots of it) my daughter opened up to me when we were snuggled up with a book. According to her, the teachers expected the kids to write too fast in class; and it was this haste that was making her writing worse.
I, of course, came up with an immediate solution “Well, why don’t we practice writing at home so that you get speed and good writing practice so that you won’t have trouble at school then?” I asked. To which, she honestly replied “Oh but I hate to write mamma!”
“Hate is a strong word, sweetheart, you obviously don’t mean that,” I said, to which, I got an honest “I know! And I do hate writing. Really. Please, let me do anything else but write. Why don’t we do orals instead? Anything but writing, really? Please mamma!!”
Now, I know a genuine answer when I hear one. And with this answer, I knew I had my work cut out for me. So then I did what all us mothers do - started looking for solutions to address this concern. I talked to fellow moms (whose children magically had amazing writing skills, by the way); my friends, my mom, my mom-in-law; and even turned to the internet at long last with questions like ‘how can I make my child like writing?’ and ‘how can I improve my child’s writing?’
I had decided to leave no stone unturned. I knew my girl was good at a lot of things; and if it was only her writing that was coming in the way of making her a ‘100%’ amazing, then I had to do something about it.
Solutions poured from all corners. Some of them were tried and tested, others were innovative ideas. From ‘get her to write a couple of pages every day,’ to ‘make her write on a slate,’ to ‘use stencils for practice;’ I got a lot of advice. I even told my kiddo that she could choose what she wanted to write. It did not have to be studies, she could do copy writing too, I said. She would write, halfheartedly, of course, and try all tricks from leaving large empty spaces between her words to drawing huge pictures, just to fill the pages.
No matter how much I tried, it was getting more and more difficult to make her sit in one place and write. She somehow felt that she was losing out on her play time if she spent time sitting and writing in one place. And I was running out of ideas.
Then one day, as I reminded her it was time to write her two pages for the day, she came with the usual long face. Said “can I read for some time before I write? Just a little bit, I am on the last chapter of this book…” And just like that, I had an idea.
That day my daughter wrote not two but three whole pages. With no extra spaces between the words and no unnecessary lines left blank. Not only did she write a lot that day, she even wrote it beautifully and was proud of the fact that she was writing. :) Yes! I had finally found my answer! (For the time being, that is….because ,my daughter is smart enough to smell a rat the moment she gets my plan….so I am counting days till that actually happens)
Now, what did I do that day? I told her she needed to help me with an article; and that I required a review from her of a book, if possible…she could choose any book of her choice. In fact, since she had just finished reading a book, could she please help me out? And, that, was what did the trick. The creative side of my daughter and her natural urge to help took over; and the rest as they say, is history!
Well, you could say I tricked her, or you could say I appealed to her natural creativity or maybe I was plain lucky at the time. But I learnt something that day – you will face many concerns in raising your kids; and you will also find many solutions to your problems; but the solution that will best work for you will be something that works on how well you know your child.
Ready-made and time tested solutions don’t necessarily work for everyone. Every child is different. Every person is different. As cliche as it sounds, your child is unique and is his / her own person. What works well for your child is totally dependent on how well you know your child and how well you use that knowledge. Just like roses are red and violets are blue – your child is special and very unique too.
So, this is what helped me. Have you come across a concern that you addressed uniquely based on what your child loves? Do let me know in your comments.