Monday, February 4, 2008

Let The Game Come to You

This is one of Sr. Smith's "staff development" quotes. Carletta over at Successful Homeschooling likened her husband's encouragement in their homeschooling to staff development that a school principal provides for his teachers, and I love the analogy! So I'm going to use it ;o)

"Let the game come to you." Charlotte Mason has taught me so much, and our homeschooling is what it is because of her writings. It will be better as I learn more and follow her methods more closely. One thing I struggle with from time to time, though, is that every so often you'll find that she comments that these methods will work well with children of normal development. She uses older, less PC ways to say this, but you get the idea; she's referring to the fact that there are children who don't learn as quickly as the majority of the others. And she is acknowledging that there may be some modifications necessary for these kiddos. We find that her methods work fantastically with both of our school age children, but what needs to be tweeked for one is the amount of work required, and the timeline in which to expect it.

I'll give an example. Last week my Paco made a huge turn in his reading. Paco is 9 years old, and was diagnosed with a syndrome at birth. I won't go into all of that; it isn't common & hardly anyone has heard of it anyway. But the ramifications are that he struggles with almost everything that we take for granted. And he pretty much operates about 12-18 months behind most of his chronological age peers. So when I start getting worried that something isn't happening, or a goal isn't being met, that's when Sr. Smith gently reminds me to, you got it, let the game come to me.

So last Tuesday I sat down with Paco and asked him to get a book of his choosing. We took turns reading Nate the Great. I read a sentence, then he read the same sentence. This went on a few pages until he told me to stop reading. He only wanted me to help him with the hard words. So I skimmed ahead & alerted him to any I thought he might struggle with. We did this for about 30 minutes, and then we went on to other things. That night, he asked his Daddy to read a Flat Stanley book with him, and he explained about our method during the day. He taught his Daddy how to help him!

Fast forward another two days. Paco came and got me, and wanted me to listen to him read from the House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. The original one with line drawings that is so precious. Now, this had been something I read to him in Year 1 - but now he wanted to read it to me! He opened it, not to page 1, but to page 17. He had started reading it on his own during his free time! CM'ers know where I'm going with this, I think, but I'm going to spell it out for non-CM'ers. His little heart and soul were not satisfied with the twaddle he had picked up earlier in the week - yes, he read and was entertained by those books. And really Nate the Great is pretty good. However, he went for something meatier of his own accord. The light dancing around in his eyes as he read to me was amazing. He was enthralled and could hardly contain his excitement! He looked at the line drawings of Pooh and Tigger at their first meeting, and made a face to mimic what he saw in Tigger. Then he said what he thought Tigger must have been thinking based on the expression on his face! This is huge for a child who has difficulty reading body language, nuances, and social cues. HUGE!

And more!! Sr. Smith told me later that, yes, Paco had pulled out the book the day before and read to him when I wasn't home. He read the hard words all by himself! And he had laughed and made the comment after reading that Pooh had "whispered loudly" - "Hah! That's so funny. How can you whisper loudly?"

So I offer two gleanings from this experience:

One, Charlotte is right that just as we do not waste our time with that which does not nourish the soul, neither does the child when given the choice. Second, Miss Mason cautions us not to speak too much. To let the children's minds digest what they take in without our manipulation of how they are to interpret this and that. It's her way of telling us to let the game come to us.

And truly, if we give it time, it will.


Anonymous said...

Good post! :)


Peakmore Academy said...

Bravo for Paco! I can just picture this happening in your home. Such a sweet tale you share with us. Good for Paco for sticking with it. Sounds like he's coming right along. Thank you so much for sharing this reading adventure with us. Have a great week.

TeacherBritt said...

Fabulous post!!! I gleaned so much from it... I'm so glad you submitted this to the carnival! Talk to you soon! :)

Be Blessed,

School for Us said...

Yeah for Paco! And, I love how this reinforces the fact that we should be feeding our children good books! Thanks for sharing this experience and for submitting it to the CM carnival