Learning letters

Medha is just 4 but she comes home with a couple of pages of homework everyday. And not just homework, she has to work on a speech  for Grandparents Day which is at the end of July. And not just memorize a speech, but prepare for assessments in English and Maths. Phew! Poor thing, she would just be pretend-playing and crafting at her play-school if we still lived in the US. What to do, this is the state of education in India. But Medha is happy. She loves going to her school every single day. Does that mean her school is doing something right?

In the beginning she was taught lines- standing, sleeping and slanting. With the help of those she is now taught letters and numbers. Right now she knows the letters I, J, L, T and numbers 1, 4 and 7. Yup… Not in the alphabetical and numerical orders, but using lines as building blocks. It’s interesting in a way, but I wonder if she should have been taught phonetics first, meaning the sound each letter makes. However hard I try she doesn’t understand that the word “leaf” starts with the sound “luh” or the word “tap” starts with the sound “tuh”.

Her teacher told us she still needs a lot of practice writing her letters and that she finds it difficult to even hold her pencil right. That kind of thing from a teacher can hurt! But instead of tensing up or pressuring Medha I want to take it slow, concentrate on a single letter at a time, make her learn it thoroughly before moving onto the next. I’m making her fill a page of 4-line notebook with a single letter each day and as a reward her papa is bringing her a candy at the end of the day. And I try to point out letters to her from the books we read together. I remind myself (and my husband) to see how far she has come from the days when she couldn’t even draw a line or sing a rhyme. Now, in a month of going to school, she is able to do both!

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I won’t worry if she doesn’t score well in her assessments. As long as we’re working hard we will get there eventually. If there’s one thing my daughter has taught me it is to be patient, to let things take their own course and not to rush through. We got through some insurmountable ( they seemed at the time!) problems together like staying up and crying all night, potty training and breastfeeding. We’ll get through this hurdle as well. Nothing is un-achievable with a lot of sweat and passion.

It doesn’t mean I don’t lose my patience and use my “mean” voice at her. I do. Quite often. But I know that sort of bullying doesn’t work on her. It just makes her more stubborn and refuse to follow my instructions. That’s why I use a lot of praise, some reward and a ton of paper craft and educational websites like abcmouse.com, starfall.com to teach her letters and numbers.

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