My Little Projects

This school year, I have been feeling much more energetic and purposeful with the feeling that with my sweet loving family, I can weather anything that come my way. Now that Calvin seems to be learning how to socialize in school and is showing improvements in his gross motor and fine motor skills, I can embark on my other little projects with him. He is still behind his peers in many skills but as long as he is showing progress, there isn’t a point in stressing about it. That’s what many of my projects are about anyway, to help him build up skills in interesting ways.

Writing Skills

Objective: To be able to write comfortably with a tripod grip by the end of the school year.

He generally prefers to use the immature digital pronate grasp which is supposedly typical of 2.5 – 3 year old kids. I’ve been coaching him to try using a tripod grasp instead with varying success. He has tried it when I correct him but still generally reverts to the more comfortable immature grip.

He often reverses his letters. Though that is supposedly common till age 6, it’s disturbing when he inverses every single letter in a word =_=

Most mornings, he’ll do a little handwriting practice while I prepare breakfast. I have some tracing sheets in a file with pictures and letters that he can trace.

We work on fine motor activities like opening clothes pegs, play doh, baking alphabet cookies etc. He plays with Lego all the time so that should help too.

We also do cutting and craft. His cutting skills are surprisingly good. Perhaps from all the car magazines he used to cut out. Having sharp left handed scissors certainly seemed to have helped too. We’ve been working on his skills like cutting zig zags and right angles. After a few tries, he seems to have grasped it. Looks like we should be doing shapes soon?


Reading Skills

Objective: To be able to read simple books with comprehension.

We are working on both Chinese and English languages. For Chinese, we are going through the 基础汉字 books I bought on our Singapore trip. We are now on book three and he can recognize at least 45 words. We used another book before (四五快读) but the material is more dry and pictures not attractive so it was hard to get him to practice enough to remember the words we learned but the main objective then was to introduce new vocabulary to him because our spoken chinese is still pretty much like 3 year old level or worse? These set of books repeats the words in different settings and he seems surprisingly willing to work on it. I’ve also tried a few games to help him revise the words we learned like word treasure hunt, secret code stuck at the front door, pointing out familiar words as we read and word bingo. He finds it discouraging when he does not remember too many of  the words and would sometimes be reluctant to work on our lessons, so I’m providing some scaffolding by offering to read over the sentences one time so he can repeat after me. I’ll need to think of some novel ways of helping him revise.

I’ve been putting in more chinese audio stories during his quiet time music. I rotate them out every 2 -3 days. With repetition, he seems to be getting familiar with the stories and will sometimes talk to me about them or ask me the meaning of the words. I’m surprised at how much he was able to understand. We are also resuming our 巧虎 videos in the morning for greater exposure to spoken chinese.

I’m still quite unsuccessful at speaking chinese to him more frequently. I find that my grasp of chinese is much poorer and I am not able to express myself well. No big surprise since it has been more than 15 years since I actually read a chinese book and I’ve rarely spoken chinese for the past 12 years. I can read and comprehend but the right words do not always present themselves when I need to. I guess it all boils down to practice too and I’m not sure reading manga in chinese is of great help. On the bright side, he has been making effort to use chinese to communicate to me. It is usually in a single sentence like “我爱草莓优格” (I love strawberry yogurt).

For English, since he is familiar with the alphabet sounds, we’re now working on word families, beginning with the easier consonant -vowel-consonant  types like -an, -at, -ig etc. We do word sorts and talk about how the words are the same or different.  Calvin is also learning sight words every week, using some of the activities I found online e.g. sight word mazes, sight word search, mini books with sight words. We also did sight word bingo before. He also loves to play with his magnetic letters and pretending to make “Word World” words that looks just like the word they spell i.e. a sheep made out of the letters s-h-e-e-p. His speed at sounding out words has been improving though he still gets ‘a’ and ‘e’ sounds confused. I’ll try to have more word sorts that help to differentiate that. I’m still constantly on the lookout for fun games to make practicing more fun.

It’s funny, before I read the books on motivation and the growth mindset, I kinda thought things like reading would just come naturally without much intervention from me but now I’m acknowledging that we need lots of practice before we’ll become good at it. I guess that is a good change and helps sets us up for success a lot better, plus it gives me better perspective on the things as I see them as essential practice and inevitable mistakes rather than failure.






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