Back to School (#435)

“I feel like I’m back in the first grade,” said a student to me this afternoon: He is taking ancient Greek. I always start off my first Greek class by introducing students to the Greek alphabet and writing it on the board.
My student had, like the rest of the class, carefully squinted to read the letters from the murky surface of an ill-cleaned dry-erase board; the fact that my markers had all dried out over the summer, and that there was a glare from the windows, did not make things easier. One student got up and moved closer. I tried five different markers and found the cleanest parts of the board to write on, then turned smiling to my class: “Let’s recite the alphabet!”

It was that phrase, my student later told me, that had made him feel he was back in his elementary years, only now it was “time for alpha beta gamma” and everyone was given a syllabus and a reminder to “buy the textbook!” “I’m not so good learning languages,” he half-added.

I did not say it, but one word filled my mind: Charlie.

“There’s techniques to help you memorize,” I said to my student (as in these).

My secretary asked how Charlie is doing and—when I talked about his school—how he is doing with his reading and writing. I reeled off the sight words he knows, his teacher’s plans to strengthen his receptive language comprehension, his struggles to imitate a diagonal line (and any letter with one, like v).

“Get those big fat crayons–the cheap ones are rougher—you know? Or those big pencils like they sell in souvenir stores. Try those. Can he trace?”

Two lightbulbs went off in my head.

First, I went to my computer and found and made up worksheets (like this). Soon as I got home, I went through Charlie’s shelves and found a pad of lined paper that one uses to teach first graders to……write the alphabet.

Second, after adding “big fat crayons” to the Charlie shopping list, I thought, extra-big and round crayons….pencils with a twig-size lead……something big that Charlie can really get a hold on……..

That is to say:

big fat pencil : regular pencil : : ocean : swimming pool.

2 Responses to “Back to School (#435)”
  1. Liz says:

    I’m all about the books. And resources.

    Handwriting Without Tears

    developed by an occupational therapist.

    And I highly recommend “The Midlabeled Child”. No I don’t think Charlie is mislabeled but the Eides have excellent insight and advice for parents and teachers.

    is the website, links to book, and has fora for parents.

  2. Thanks Liz! Charlie started Handriting without Tears under at OT two years ago but there was no follow-up after a short period. His new school OT is writing up OT goals that specifically address hand-writing, hand-strength—-with better follow-up, I hope.

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