“Yeah, but,” intones the kindergarten teacher. “He can’t write. He just won’t. I can’t get him to write at all.”
The parent starts to agree that sentences are really hard. I am not going to pull out my, “Let him draw and label,” remedy. They are right in front of him and maligning not only his ability, but writing in general. I had to stick my neck out.
I have not copied pages from the boy’s LLI writing book, so I say to him across the table, “Remember that story you read yesterday about My Little Dog?”
He nods and a little smile forms on his brown face giving him a trace of a dimple. I turn over a piece of paper and grab a pencil from a cup.
“Yeah, you read about all the things the little dog likes to do with the girl, right? What would you like to say about that book?”
His smile goes full on as he says, “The dog likes to read.”
“Ha, ha! Isn’t that funny? That’s a great thing to say. Let’s practice it. Say your sentence again.”
He repeats it and I press my fingers across the page for each word.
“Again,” I prompt. “Now, turn the ‘sound’ on your pencil and say those words as you are writing them. Remember to re-read each time you write a word.”
He takes off with a capital T and writes the first two words, re-reading them. The kindergarten teachers cuts in to tell him the sound and to spell “like” but I interrupt her. “No, no. The prompt is ‘You try it.'”
The little guy writes and says his sentence with beautiful form, word spacing and complete words. He did it like he’d been writing sentences all his life.
The parent looked pleased and there was a hush before the topic turned to another item on the report card. The sentence was on the back of his skill sheet. The teacher muttered, “I’m going to keep this.”
My commitment to finding out what students can do, what they do well and building on that is strong. Stronger yet is my belief that writing is an integral part of reading. And neither one of them is a process of producing sounds.
Reading and writing are thinking. Love that thoughtful little guy today.