Friday afternoon, I was attempting to straighten up my office. I was tidying the mounds that had accumulated on my table, a mess that came to be from my constant running from classroom to classroom, stopping by my room just to unload one pile and grab another.
I was about to pick up my bags and head out for the weekend, when I saw my phone light up and the name of my kids’ school flash across the screen. I picked up, not sure of what I might hear next. Did one of the kids finally catch one of the many illnesses going around? If one of the kids was sick, I didn’t think the nurse would be calling after school…
It was Adi’s kindergarten teacher. “Adi is ok. I’m just calling to let you know Adi got really upset today…” She went on to tell me that she had to talk to Adi about keeping her eyes in her book during reading time and then again during partner reading time. Adi had to sit out for a few minutes of choice time as a result and that was hard for Adi to understand. There were tears and eventually hugs.
When I picked up Adi from school, I didn’t expect her to fill me in on this incident on her own. But as we got into the car, she started talking. Her version of the story was that a friend needed help getting a drink from the water fountain…so she had to get up to help her. Then she found a pencil on the floor….so she had to get up to give it to the teacher. Then finally, her reading partner just wanted to play with their sticky notes…so she couldn’t read her book. Also, her partner never let’s her go first, so there seems to be some real drama in that department.
We talked about how she could deal with some of these distractions in the future…let her friend get her drink on her own, leave the pencil until after reading time, and try to her best to be a good reading partner. She seemed open to these suggestions and I thought the conversation was over.
The next day, Adi and I were on our way home from the grocery store. “Can you turn the music off so I can talk to you?” Adi asked from the backseat.
As I pushed the button to turn off the radio, I asked Adi what she wanted to talk about.
She said that she forgot. So I suggested we brainstorm some new “How-To” books she could write. While I was on the phone with her teacher, she told me about how they were launching this new unit and Adi had already written a book to teach me how to go through the drop off loop-something I don’t get to do very often.
“I don’t know what other books to write,” Adi complained.
“So let’s think of some together. We can write a how to go to the grocery store book. We just did that together,” I said.
“Or how to get gas,” Adi exclaimed. “First get out of the car. Leave the kids in the car so they don’t get gas on themselves. Then get back in the car. Put hand sanitizer on. Then drive home.”
“That’s a good one,” I said. “Now you already have one more book you could write.”
We wrote how to be a good friend, how to wash the car, and how to go grocery shopping in the air before I suggested Adi write a book about how to be a good reading partner…maybe a proactive way to deal with some of her issues from the previous day, something I knew she’d have to deal with again on Monday.
We talked it out, starting out with what you need and how to sit next to your partner. I helped her add in some tips about using your sticky notes the right way and how to remember to sometimes ask if your partner wants to go first.
When we got home from the store, I was unloading groceries when Adi brought me a blank booklet and asked me to add boxes at the top of each page so she could write step numbers, like her booklets at school. Then she was off. I actually forgot about her as I continued working in the kitchen and was distracted by Rose traveling through the kitchen with her baby stroller and her arms weighed down with bags…she was going on a pretend vacation.
“Where’s Adi?” I asked suddenly worried because she was strangely quiet. That’s when I remembered that she might be writing a book.
I walked towards the dining room table and saw her sitting on the table, her flair pen poised in the air as she thought about what to write next. She was writing her “how to be a good reading partner book.”
“I’m going to read this book with Allen on Monday,” she said as she flipped back to the first page to read me her book.
Writing for real at age five.
Still a work in progress, here are the first two pages of Adi’s book.