Summer break. A time away from public school. A time to visit the public pool, the library, various parks in the area … yeah, I had great and wonderful plans.
How many of them turned out? Well, let’s not go there right now.
Something George’s teacher sent home at the end of last school year was a pack of papers. His OT even send home ideas he could work on. These were great, and would fit in easily to my plans for a simplified home school/summer school.
I was organized. Truly. Each kid had a binder of work to do, a sheet at the beginning saying what needed done that day, etc. In all, it should have taken us less than an hour a day. Should have.
Even if things did not turn out like I had them planned, they could have gone worse. Not exactly optimistic thinking is it?
I have learned over the years to not beat my head against a brick wall if I do not have to. Though it might take several hits for me to be reminded, I do get there. Here is one great example:
This is a simple enough worksheet. Or so I thought. George was to work on this page one day. I should have taken, oh, 10 minutes. 2 or 3 days later I decided that God gave George his own way of looking at things and I was not going to let a worksheet squelch that trait.
Here is how things were going…during Week 1:
Me – George, for each line there is one item that does not go with the others. When you find that word, write it on the line to the right.
Already, we are at Problem #1 – George’s reading skills are a bit behind. While I thought this could be independent work while I read aloud to Jack, it turned into him needing clarification on almost every word.
Problem #2 – even if he figured out the word, he would have to write it out. Writing takes a lot of effort for him, sometimes he uses creative spelling even if the work is right there, and he gets upset about it and wants to give up immediately.
Solution #1a – “Try your best and I’ll go over the ones you don’t know when I am done with Jack.” Yeah, like that is going to work. Silly me. He lasted 10 seconds before declaring he didn’t know any of the words and chose to play with his toys. Right. In. Front. Of. Us. While I am trying to get Jack to follow what I am reading. While I am trying to get Jack to sit still.
Solution #1b – “Go play in your room and we will work on this when I am done.” 20 seconds later he is back out again, walking in circles around us.
Solution #1c – “If you do not leave this room right now, your brother is going to get to pick all the movies for the rest of the day. Now get a book and go. to. another. room. (For further clarification) As in, not where we can see you.”
Once I finally was able to give George my full attention I tackled the second problem.
Solution #2 – “Don’t worry about writing it out. Just circle it.”
Okay, so now we were off and running. I sat trying to do paperwork while George asked about 90% of the words. I leaned over to check his work at one point and asked for clarification.
Me – For #4, why did you write that rain did not belong?
George – Wind can blow around sleet and snow. Sleet and snow are both cold. Wind can be cold too.
Me – Um, okay. What are sleet and snow exactly. Is rain or wind similar to them in that way?
Me – For #9, why did you say coral did not belong?
George – The rest are animals.
Me – Well, that is true. Is there any other way the to make some of the words relate to each other?
Me – For #10, why did you write that a ‘kite’ did not belong in the group?
George – Because a cactus grows in sand and you can carry sand in a bucket.
At this point, I gave him a hug, told him he could be done with the worksheet, and to go play.
See, none of his answers were necessarily wrong, they were only not the ones the authors were going for. Most people would see that “sleet, snow, and rain” belong together because they are precipitation, “anenemone, coral, and octopus” belong together due to them being in the ocean, and “sand, bucket, and kite” belong together because you play with them at the beach.
George’s brain doesn’t work that way. I tried to lead him there. It was painful. So painful. He was frustrated because he just could not see where I was trying to go.
Our relationship is more important than a worksheet aimed at getting him to think like the author wants him to.
No worries, I am not just letting him get by without learning, but there are other ways than worksheets to teach this concept.