My daughter’s occupational therapist does a progress monitoring every 12 weeks. Today was the day to review Isabelle’s goals to see whether or not she’s met them, and to set new ones. We had a big decision: keep working with uppercase letters or set a new goal for lowercase letters. You see, my kiddo turns five next month (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!?!??) so it’s “time” for her to start using lowercase letters in her writing. But… she’s not ready. At least not yet.
While she can comfortably write the letters in her name in uppercase, she isn’t as independent with letters that aren’t in her name. Even though it looks like she’s mastered the letters when she uses apps like Letter School, Ready to Print, and Writing Wizard, she hasn’t mastered making all of the uppercase letters on paper. Letter School is the best with the gradual release of responsibility, but the transference to paper isn’t there since a blank sheet of paper doesn’t remind you where your pen should go!
“Do you want to include lowercase letters in her goal now that she’s turning five?” Jena repeated.
I thought a little more. We push-push-push Isabelle so much. And she rises to the occasion nearly ever time. But this isn’t something I wanted to push yet.
“Can we put it off another three months?” I asked.
“Yes. But we should include it in her next set of goals,” Jena replied. “She’s going to need to know her lowercase letters once she goes to Kindergarten. We need to start working on them soon.
“Okay,” I said. I could live with that.
So instead of setting a lowercase letter goal, we set an uppercase letter goal that Isabelle would begin to copy words with a variety of uppercase letters. In fact, she started just moments after the goal was written.
Isabelle had colored a couple of pictures while I was speaking with Jena. On the back of the pictures, Jena asked Isabelle to write “To: Jena” and then she had to write her full name (first, middle, and last, which is a total of 23 letters!). It was a lot of work, but Isabelle did it with minimal complaints and a reasonable degree of accuracy. In fact, she was VERY proud of herself for being able to write all of those letters on the back of her coloring page. She even posed for a photo holding up her paper with all of the writing.
That’s when I knew we set the right goal. All kids need to feel successful. They need attainable short-term goals they can accomplish rather than being frustrated by goals that are too hard.
A lot can change in three months. And besides, being 5 1/4 isn’t too old — at least not in my book — to start working on lowercase letters.