Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Breakthrough in the Little Dude's Brain

I was a firstborn child.  When my brother was born, Mom said we were total opposites.  Then when my other brother was born, Mom said he was completely opposite from the both of us.  We are given personalities and genetic tendencies from the very beginning of our lives.

I have always known that Elisa and Wilkin were totally different.  They're female and male, yes, but different in ways that transcend chromosomes and Princesses v. Dinosaurs.

Elisa "gets it" right away.  Whether it's auditory, visual, tactile, she gets it.  She reads a spelling list and can take the test a week later without reviewing the words.  She reads a book and discusses intricate plot points months after the book is back on the shelf.  

Wilkin "gets it" best when he comes up with the conclusion, fact or solution on his own.  His dad is the same way (makes couple discussion time lots of fun), but not to this extreme.  Simply asking Wilkin to sit down and look at a worksheet results in a brick wall slamming up in front of his face, tears springing to his eyes, and arms folding across his chest.

In school, Wilkin's greatest struggle was for automaticity and speed in writing the responses for math and English on his worksheets.  Many days Wil would take hours to complete a worksheet for many reasons - inability to concentrate, the tendency toward distraction (he is seven, after all), but the main reason was his that he would not listen to instruction.  He was told many times by his teacher - and as well, by his parents - that the speediest way to copy his spelling words was to look at the entire word and write it without looking back at the word.  If he couldn't remember the word, then he needed to keep a finger on the word so he could easily refer back to the original word.  Although it would have saved him so much time and frustration, Wilkin would not listen, would not do what we suggested.

Yesterday, Wilkin was copying words in his endeavor to learn "long vowel" sounds.  He had completed a word search, then began to write the words on the lines provided.  As before, he wrote the words letter by letter: F (then back up to see the next letter) - E (write the letter, then look back up at the word to find the next letter) - A (write the letter, look back up to find the next letter in the word) - S (write the letter, then search for the next letter in the word) - T.  The next word proved to be just as painstaking, until Wilkin said to me, "Hey mom, what if I looked at the word while I wrote down below, then I wouldn't have to look back and forth?" 

"Well, buddy, that's a good idea, except that you can't see what you are writing down below, so you can't tell if you're writing neatly or not."

Wilkin thought about that.  "Hmmm.  You're right.  What about if I look at the word, read it, and remember the letters, then write it down below?"


"Yeah, dude, I think that might work.  You're a smart one.  You can remember all the letters and write it down - I know you can."

With each successive word, Wilkin became more and more excited that he was completing the task so quickly. "Hey, Mom!  If I had done this in school, I could have done a worksheet with everybody else and would never have had to put it under my desk to do later!  I wouldn't have had to miss playtime to do my work!"


That's why I'm homeschooling my son.  He may not listen to what I think is reason at the time, but if I am patient with him, he will find his way and be a confident learner.  I can't forge the path for him, he must tread it on his own.  Forcing him to process his learning the way I process learning is ineffective at best, abusive at worst.  I'm going to be as patient with my boy as I can, and be his guide along the way to knowledge.  His way ... on his timetable.


Debbi said...

And when he's older, he won't have to follow the crowd into doing drugs or stupid pranks, either, because he processes things carefully and does what he wants to do for the right reasons. Hang in there, Mom! :)

Jamie Hatfield said...

Thanks Debbi! That is such an encouragement to me!

mamamia said...

Thanks for sharing. It is amazing how each child is wired differently.