Every morning, since we arrived in Aspen, Emma wakes up somewhere between 5:30 – 6:00AM and comes into my bedroom to snuggle and sing songs. At around 6:30AM I will say, “Ready to go to work?”
“One more minute,” is Emma’s usual response.
After a few minutes I’ll say, “C’mon. Let’s go!”
“Time to go to the study room!” Emma will say in a sing-songy voice.
Emma’s “study room” is the room adjoining my bedroom with a desk, my computer, a fax/scanner/copier machine and a twin bed, where one of the children often sleep if they don’t feel well. Though neither of them has chosen to sleep there for over a year now.
We go into Emma’s “study room” to work on writing individual letters, sequencing, and typing. The letter “s” is difficult for Emma and she still needs occasional wrist support, but otherwise her handwriting is coming along beautifully.
“Good!” she’ll say after she’s made a particularly good looking “e”.
“Beautiful!” I’ll agree.
“No,” she’ll say after trying to make a “c” but the lower part ended up below the line.
Sometimes she’ll self correct and I’ll say, “No. It’s okay Em. That’s a fine looking “t”.
“Okay,” she’ll say.
Typically we then move on to typing. I hold up a series of letters, which she then points to the corresponding letters on a sheet resembling the pad on a computer. Same formation, same positioning of letters except they are all in lower case, just like the letters I hold up. The letter “q” she confuses with a “p’, but other than that she’s doing incredibly well. Then we move onto the computer itself, which is much trickier as the letters are all in upper case and she must translate them from the lower case letters I hold up to the correct upper case letters on the keyboard pad of the computer.
Finally we end with a series of sequencing exercises using colored tiles and letter tiles. Sometimes I have to cover the letters or colored tiles and she must remember what they were. If they are random, say – red, white, yellow – she often can’t remember what they are. But if the colors are in a pattern – yellow, black, black, yellow – she almost always gets them right.
“No, no, no,” she said, yesterday when she put the wrong tiles down, after I covered the four tiles.
“Try again,” I said.
“There,” she said when I lifted the paper covering the four tiles and she saw she’d gotten them right.
As the sessions go on they become more difficult, until eventually we will move on to reading.
We almost always end our sessions with quietly sitting opposite each other for a few minutes. Emma calls this “deep breathing time.” Except we don’t breath deeply, we just sit, hands in our laps and stare into the mid distance. After we’ve sat for a few minutes, I’ll put my hands on Emma’s shoulders and say, “Good!” She always gives me a huge grin, before running off.
A year ago, I would have been dismayed, had I been able to peek into the future and seen Emma doing these exercises. Which just goes to show, I should never try to predict the future and never underestimate what she is capable of.