If the child is not learning the way you are teaching, then you must teach in the way the child learns
As with any child, sometimes they can really truly impress you… and sometime not… and sometimes both.
Kyle was great this past weekend, except for the usual sock argument (no sock fits him perfectly to his liking) before we went hiking through the woods. He read a chapter in his Bionicle book, he completed two pages in his grammar workbook, practiced his piano and guitar and annihilated his multiplication flash cards. I took him roller skating and we watched a couple movies, Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and Alvin & the Chipmunks the Squeakquel. Kyle even let me work with minimal interruptions while I built a website. Sounds like a nice relaxing weekend with my little man- well it was!
However, more my fault than his, Kyle did mention that he had a little bit of studying to do for Social Studies. To be honest, he told me on Friday night and I totally forgot. So I didn’t think to get his book bag out on Saturday while we were doing his other homework assigned by me. Well, lo and behold, Sunday came, Kyle had CCD class and we went to church. Then, mid-way through the day, I asked him to get out his book bag, thinking that his homework was a quick review. I was wrong! He had 12 states and their capitals to memorize along with worksheet questions. Normally Kyle is ahead of the game and when he says he has a little bit of studying, it means a quick review. Well, note to self, that’s not always the case…
I started to quiz him on the states and capitals, and nothing! He really had no idea, like he’d never heard of the capitals before. Well, considering it was 5:30ish on Sunday afternoon and we had to leave by 7:30ish to get him back, plus he needed to take his nightly shower, I started to stress and get frustrated. Yep, PANIC, which I usually don’t do because I believe children can pick up on it and I don’t think it’s healthy. I was stressed because I didn’t want him to do poorly on his test and it was my fault for not being more proactive. What made the situation more frustrating was Kyle’s lack of focus and screwing around and not paying attention. Yikes! I know I’m not one to talk about being focused, but it wasn’t my grade that was on the line. There are some traits and habits that I have influenced Kyle with, which make me proud. Then, there are those bad habits or personality traits he possesses and I wish I could hit the delete key on his DNA file. Focusing is one of them.
I started to go through the list asking him the states and expecting to get the capitals as a response – nope. I had him continue to repeat after me, but then he was mumbling under his breath, which was making me mad. Then I decided to change it up and I started to ask him the capitals, expecting to get the states – nope. He was just huffing his breath and being a bit of a smarty-pants, cocky child, which made me even more mad. Then he would look around and be distracted with something he picked up, etc. This happened until my dad yelled. Then Kyle was like, “What? I don’t know what the answer is pap pap.” Dad was getting mad too. But Kyle was in the mood to be difficult. Granted, it was late on Sunday and he was ready to retire for the day, not worry about capitals.
Then I started to choose the first three states and kept quizzing him on those three, back and forth, state, capital, capital, state. He started to get better, but I could see it was not clicking. I made him stand there and give me the answers. I have found in the past that when Kyle is having difficulty concentrating, standing gets the blood moving to the cranium cavity and makes him more alert. Did it work? NOPE! I was at my wits end. I realized there had to be another way to get through to this child to help him out, without the yelling, without taking away privileges, to accomplish what’s important, educating Kyle.
Then God must have felt my pain, because I got the idea to write down the states and capitals as flash cards. You see, I don’t just quiz Kyle on the states and have him answer me on the capitals; I make him know it both ways. I’ve always been like that with his homework to ensure he really understands the material. Well, as soon as we went through the flash cards once, he was on fire! In Kyle’s true fashion, he likes a little bit of competition. I had my mom sit there to yell out the answers too and I told Kyle I wanted to see who was going to have to do the dishes… Gigi or him. He was so focused and on it!
Sometimes, it’s not just the child, or their focus or their intelligence, but the teacher. And it is my job as the “teacher” to help him the best way that benefits him. I am thankful that I didn’t completely lose my patience or give up on him. In fact, while he was being difficult, I would reiterate that I loved him very much and I want him to succeed. I also said that this was very uncharacteristic of him, he usually gets his homework on the first try. I told him I knew he was more than smart enough to memorize the capitals and their corresponding states.
I must say, through this exercise, Kyle cracked me up. Every time he would say South Dakota’s capital, Pierre, he would say Perrier, like the sparkling water…LOL and even better every time he would say Iowa’s capital, Des Moines he would say Des Money, Des Moinmoneys etc. I couldn’t help myself, he was just too cute. I would politely correct him and then an even better version of the capital would come from his mouth. But he was being serious and wanted to do well.
I did call Kyle on Monday, usually we have swimming lessons after school but it was snowing pretty hard and the roads were slick. I asked him how he did. He said, “I may have missed one, but except for that, it was perfect.” I told him how proud I was of him and that I would pass the word along to Gigi, Pappy, and Aunt Nikki. He then said, “Ya and I got 3 A’s on my reading too!” I said, “Wow, you had a great day!” He was proud of himself, he was also thinking he should be expecting some sort of toy or game from the family for his efforts… I know how that child operates. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.