Sure, she was a great first-grade teacher. Sure, she taught
my son the basics of math, how to tell time and how to read at a higher
reading level than he’d achieved in kindergarten.
And, as a writer, I love that she gave the kids a real love
of storytelling this year. My son was encouraged to make up his own stories,
and they created “books” that came complete with sweet illustrations, title
pages and even an author page.
So, there’s no question that Mrs. Kelly is an awesome first-grade
teacher. But there was one thing that
I really wish she’d kept to herself: the lesson on how to write a persuasive
The assignment seemed simple enough; it was the last part in
a unit on how to write a letter. My son knew how to date his letter, use the correct
salutation and even how to sign off. Things were going great. But then came
the persuasive letter.
The assignment was this: Write a letter to someone, and
persuade them to do something. The kids learned how to use transition
words and phrases, such as to begin with
and additionally and finally. They learned how to lay out an
argument in multiple steps and how to express a thought-out opinion.
Seems like a great assignment, right?
My 6-year-old wrote my husband and me a persuasive letter
about his heart’s greatest desire: getting a hamster. (Who knew this was his
heart’s greatest desire? Not me! I can assure you.) He used his transition
words correctly: to begin with, he wanted
one so badly, and additionally, he
would take care of it, and finally,
he’d be the one to clean out its cage weekly (ha!).
So, basically, it was the cutest thing I ever read. I was so
proud of his accomplishment, laying out his thought-out argument, and it was
just too adorable how he thought through all of the things I’d be concerned
about (did I mention the cleaning out of the cage weekly?). And to boot, his
handwriting was the best I’d ever seen it. He’d taken his time with his
assignment and I was so incredibly proud.
So me? Sucker that I am, I let him have one. How could
my husband and I deny him? We were so proud of the work that he’d put in, and
we could see in his beaming face that he was proud of himself, too. We told my
6-year-old that he could have a hamster for his seventh birthday.