I asked Isabelle’s new teacher if she’d like me to volunteer on Mondays — except for weeks when I have consulting commitments — to work with the kids during journal time. (My desire to volunteer was prompted by my freak-out about Isabelle’s journal writing last spring.) Granted, most of my experience has been with kids in grades 1 – 5, but her preschool teacher said “yes.”
Today was my first day.
Let me be honest, I am exhausted. Do you know how hard it is to get three and four-year-olds to sit down and write while there are other centers happening in the classroom? Magnatiles were being erected into skyscrapers. Jungle puzzles were being pieced together. There was something exciting inside of the sensory table. And there I was in the writing center. But somehow, I met with every single kid in the class in one hour. Well, except for one who walked away from me. I guess the idea of writing a true story about something from her life wasn’t enough of an enticement.
Thankfully, Isabelle was willing to sit with me today. In the midst of our discussion about me coming in to work with her friends, we also talked about what she’d write about today. She had a story she wanted to tell, which made her willing to come right over to the writing center. The requirement was that she bring a friend. Thankfully, her friend Grace was not only willing to join us, but she had a great story to tell (about her brother’s birthday party over the weekend). Grace was highly independent while I worked with Isabelle, which allowed me to give Isabelle lean prompts to help her (e.g., turn your paper to the side to show someone laying on the ground; “Should you draw a smiley face or a sad face if someone is hurt?), without intruding too much on her writing process. After all, today was supposed to be a baseline of what the kids could do.
I have no idea what the unlabeled parts of the picture are, but what I do know is that this is a marked improvement from where she was in the springtime. (And, yes, I have worked with her on storytelling — oral and through pictures — at home this summer.)
I noticed she started another page in her journal when I started working with one of her other friends. I didn’t have time to coach her at all, but she did have a story to tell about her picture:
The second picture is what I’d consider her default. This is the kind of picture Isabelle defaults to when left to her own devices. And that’s okay. It counts as writing and will live in her writing journal at school, just like the previous page will.
I’m looking forward to watching her grow this year — one Monday at a time.