I have not been as low as I was back in October, but it has not escaped my notice that yesterday and today mark the double whammy that was my first miscarriage and the due date of the pregnancy that became my second pregnancy. I feel that I did most of my mourning a few months ago, with occasional outbursts since then. It helps that I'm now doing some things to find the answers I need, whatever those answers might be.
Instead, I want to focus tonight on a relatively small sort of thing, but something that marks, I suspect, the true start to being the parent of a child in school. As part of Scooter's preschool program, we are required to have a monthly meeting with his teacher. We held ours via phone this month, due to our bout of strep. I won't go into the frustration of hearing the whole "trouble sharing must be because he's a spoiled only child" thing; neither Trillian nor I nor any of our siblings are particularly good at sharing--I suspect it's as much a personality trait as anything else, but didn't want to argue ("Frankly, I hate sharing, sometimes even with my wife and child, so the best we can hope for is that he shares grudgingly"--not a line I wanted to use).
No, an even smaller topic that came up for all of two minutes was handwriting. Scooter has trouble with fine motor control. Combine this with his tendency to avoid things he finds difficult = issues with writing. But he's proud that he can write his name and will sometimes write other letters. (I'm sure I've mentioned before that I credit his OT experience in Toronto with rekindling his interest in this.) I occasionally give him a little help with grip or a reminder of what direction to move the pen to make the requested letter. I do not--and will not--push for more than he's trying to do right now since that would only cause him to quit trying.
We have been told, however, that the district's handwriting curriculum focuses on lower-case letters first, not the upper-case letters Scooter has learned. Therefore, per his teacher, we should be working with him on writing all but the first letter of his name in lower case. So that he can meet the expectations of the handwriting curriculum.
I did mention the fine motor issues. I did bring up the many curvy letters in his name. And then I went silent. Because she reiterated that he should start working on his lower-case letter so that he will be able to complete the handwriting curriculum.
Here's the thing. I cannot bring myself to care too terribly much about the handwriting curriculum. I understand the need for my son to write legibly. I think he will take great pleasure in learning to spell and seeing how he can create words all by himself. I don't think that this will be affected by whether or not his letters are formed as proscribed by D'Nealian or anybody else.
I know this is something that Aliki has written about before (although I'm too close to bedtime to find a specific link): Why is this issue so important? Why the obsession? What harm if it's done differently? When to be rigid and when to give with a kid who's struggling with non-academic areas?
I suspect that the fact that I have been a teacher, that I have given quite a bit of thought to pedagogical philosophy makes me even more opinionated than I would otherwise be, a little less willing to play along because it's part of the district curriculum. As much as I want to be--and will be--a supporter of my son's teachers, I also suspect that there will be times I whisper to him, "Handwriting's not a real subject, so it doesn't matter what your grade is. Can you spell the words you're supposed to? Can you read lower-case letters? Can you write legibly? That's what matters."