Wednesday, November 28, 2012

a lightbulb moment

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  ~Ps 139:14

God is teaching me that every single day…

It’s not news that one of my little guys struggles with motor planning issues.  Clearly, though, I haven’t thought through the implications all the way.  If I had, yesterday’s ‘aha!’ would have happened long ago.

One of the boys uses a math book beyond his grade level, and he has difficulty fitting his 2nd grade printing size into the space allotted in these more advanced math worksheets.  No big deal—I don’t care as much about the penmanship (it will come!) as I do about the math knowledge, so I scribe some for him.  Works well.  He talks me through the problems and I write things down for him.  The other advantage is that I get to see how well he understands what he’s doing!  Anyway, I’ve been scribing for him since we started homeschooling.  Since the other boy’s math book has LOTS of empty space between problems on the page (most excellent for easily distractible kidlets! Smile ), I’ve not done the scribing for him.  Until yesterday.  He was frustrated and needed some help, so I picked up a pencil and said, “Let’s blow through this.  You read the problems and tell me the answers, and I’ll write them down for you.”  Having watched him work on math problems for the last 2 years, I really didn’t expect much.  After all, a single worksheet with about 10 basic addition or subtraction problems on it can take him half an hour or longer.  But you know what?  He CAN blow through it!  Apparently his motor planning issues make the whole process nigh unto impossible.  Take away the need to switch from knowing the answer to figuring out how to get his arm and hand to use the pencil to actually CREATE the number on the page, and he’s got it!  Blew me away.   He did 10 problems in about 2 1/2 minutes.  Today we did 2 worksheets, one a new(er) concept and one a review sheet.  Probably 25-30 problems total.   I chose to scribe for him, and I think we were done in 15 minutes or so.  And he struggled with some of the math facts!  (No surprise there—he has working memory issues, and basic math facts come and go in his brain’s ‘filing system’.)

I am liking the implications of this!  No more fighting over how long it takes to do a simple math page.  No more tears because it’s ‘too hard’ or ‘takes too long.’  No worries!  Yes, I know he needs to learn to write.  We work on penmanship.  But you know what?  In the big picture of life, I’d much prefer he knows how to read and do math.  He can always learn to type.  He can live forever without knowing how to print or write in cursive well, but life will be very hard indeed if he can’t read or do math. 

So now we apply this more proactively to his language/grammar as well.  He loves to tells stories, so we will be more intentional about writing them for him.  (No creative spelling allowed here.  Smile  For a child with severe dyslexia and significant working memory issues, creative spelling is risky at best and potentially damaging long term.)  The bonus of all that is that when we scribe for him, we can help him with the parts of language that are difficult for him:  word usage, tenses, and sentence construction.  (Yes, pretty much the whole thing.  Oh well.)

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