At a parent-teacher conference in March, ThingFive’s teacher told me that he would completely freeze when given a writing assignment. Not wanting to spell any words incorrectly, he would become paralyzed by perfectionism.
His teacher encouraged him to check his second-grade word list. She encouraged him to stretch the word out, make his best spelling guess, then circle it so he could come back later to find the real spelling. The poor kid just could not get over his fear of making a mistake.
So he wasn’t completing any writing assignments. This cutie spent 20 minutes at his desk wondering how to spell “chocolate,” unsure if he should use a “k” or a “c.”
During the conference, his teacher and I brainstormed ways to help him take risks with his writing, ways to help him feel comfortable just writing and not worrying about perfection. We came up with this idea of the Super Secret Notebook.
I write a secret message to ThingFive, ending with a question or two. Then I hide it under his pillow.
He finds it, reads it and writes a message back to me, answering my questions and telling me anything he wants me to know. Then he hides it in my nightstand.
I assured him that I used to teach second grade, and since some of my students were not good spellers, I can decipher misspelled words.
It took some encouraging and some very short test-messages to me, but he finally relaxed. He writes in our Super Secret Notebook. He even attempts very challenging words, like “lasagna” and “favorite.”
His teacher says he has become quite the risk-taker in his writing. He often finishes writing assignments so quickly she doesn’t even have time to walk back around the room to check on him before he is done.
Oh, and the other day he spelled “chocolate” correctly in a message to me.
Have you had any great ideas that proved to be an educational turning point for your children? Or maybe you remember some strategy that provided a learning breakthrough for you. Will you share your ideas here?