I’ve been thinking a lot about preschool writing ever since my TWT colleague, Dana Murphy, shared her daughter’s writing on TWT last week. Maddie, Dana’s older daughter, is about 14 months older than Isabelle. Maddie starts Kindergarten this fall. Isabelle has another year of preschool to go. Developmentally, these girls are in different places.
I know better than to compare Isabelle’s writing to Maddie’s.
But I’ve been coming back to Maddie’s writing quite a few times since Dana posted it. (I even shared it with my husband, who was impressed and amazed by the words Maddie wrote on the page. I was impressed by that and the level of detail in her illustrations.) And every time I do, I wonder, will Isabelle be able to write like that by this time next year?
Now here’s where I’m going to stop to talk directly to my parents, in-laws, and husband who I know will be reading this in the next 24 hours. I am not comparing Isabelle to Maddie. If I’ve learned anything about parenting in the past 4+ years, it’s that I should never compare my child to anyone else’s. Isabelle learns at her own pace. She always gets there — in her own time. My purpose for posting this in a public forum, not on the family-only blog, is to get some feedback from other early childhood educators I know. I’m hoping to get some suggestions from them about how I can work with Isabelle at home. Anyway, back to my post.
Back in October, Isabelle received her journal in school. We had the pleasure of inscribing the first page. Here’s what one of her early entries looked like:
I went into her classroom in November and February to work with her on her notebook. November’s trip was a semi-disaster since she didn’t want to work with me. February’s work was better. Take a look:
Better, right? She drew the picture and talked with me. I wrote what she said and labeled the faces.
Here’s a small sampling of her work from February – present:
We had Isabelle’s parent-teacher conference with her teacher today. She made note of some things that show progress in the area of writing:
- Isabelle has developed a more positive attitude to non-preferred tasks, which includes anything that requires her to sit at a table — like writing.
- Isabelle is becoming more confident and in control of writing utensils.
- Isabelle has become more interested in writing. She has been creating illustrations that are more representational and often tells about events of experiences from her own life.
These are all FANTASTIC things, some of which I’ve noticed progress with at home. But I’m worried.
- I’m worried because Isabelle had no interest in starting an at-home story journal with me a few months ago. (I’ll try again once school is out this summer.)
- We’ve been practicing oral storytelling at home since I know talk is the step before drawing and writing.
- I’m worried the journal work she’s doing now isn’t showing a clear trajectory of growth (as evidenced by the 5/29/15 piece, which feels like a step backwards). While I see growth from November, I’m still concerned.
- My personal goal for Isabelle is to be able to tell a story across three pages in the early part of Kindergarten. (I realize that’s over a year away. A lot can change in a year. This video represents what my expectations are of Kindergarten students.)
- I’m worried that she isn’t using what she knows about stories (and we read a lot of books!) and bringing that forth in her writing.
And I know she’s only four. And I know she has another year of preschool. And I know she needs to play and socialize and learn how to ‘do school.’ And I know she may grow up to be more like my husband (a math and science person) than like me (the ELA/SS person). And I know I don’t want to force her to sit down and write because that would kill the joy of writing she may find on her own in a year or two.
I know all of these things, but, yet, I worry.