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OT: Need to get to the bottom of this

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    Originally posted by MBentley View Post
    I feel like I'm always on the other side. And I hate that.

    I have no idea how you approach learning outside of some level of frustration. Think recitation in K/1/2. Half of those questions hit long before we've hit the material itself. Why would we ask any kid to memorize what hasn't been taught yet? The only people that don't get frustrated are the ones with some natural skills in select subject areas, yet those are the real ones to watch out for because those same kids can get lazy and quit trying having become accustomed to easy. I can't be the only one with scores of family members and old friends who had incredible innate talents early, but those talents proved useless, fatal even, because when life hit, they failed in every way conceivable because they skipped by early life without having to practice work - like exposure to frustration and learning what to do about it.

    Frustration is kind of a companion to learning and one of life's biggest teachers. I always paint it differently - I tell the kids that I love it when we get to that point - when they tell me it's hard or they are frustrated, I clap my hands, and tell them " we we know where step 1 of the next level is". I make it a point to show enthusiasm when we deal with it because I am truly happy about it. I get to teach them a bigger lesson besides what the academic work is trying to teach, and I let them know that is exactly what I'm doing - going beyond academia. I remove the negative of it and teach the value of it, treating it like it's a good thing because I fervently believe it is a good thing. It's when you get to the point of frustration that you have to decide if you are going to quit, or recognize that frustration is just an emotion - a really temporary one - but mastery of anything ( and everything) is based only on practice and you aren't born "practiced", no matter what innate skill set you have. How do we teach that lesson without making them face it over and over? How do we teach them not to be scared of it? How do we teach them that it is absolutely not a full stop without training them to live through it rather than avoid it?
    Please don't feel bad! I probably worded things wrong again .

    I definitely agree that "this is hard" does not preclude "we need to work harder." Just ask my son how many times I've told him 'You can do hard things" as he flops all over the chair! When I say we don't want to work at their Frustration Level, I mean the level where they really CAN'T do what we think they can or what we're asking them to do and yet we keep expecting it of them.

    For example, my son has an October birthday and started Kindergarten at 6-going-on-7 (how our state works, and he was nowhere near ready at 5-going-on-6). After a year of reading instruction, he and his younger sister were still sounding out every.single.letter in every.single.word. When we switched to MP, I started them both in Kindergarten again. His sister's reading took off while his barely moved. We kept going, and began MP1 the following fall. He was now 8-going-on-9. He could read Little Bear with lots of help, but he kept saying "It's too hard!" and the fights over school kept going.

    I finally told my husband that I needed to know if this was just a challenge he needed to work through or if things really were too hard. I gave him the DORA reading assessment and, after two years of reading instruction, at age 9, he scored at early to mid Kindergarten in everything except vocabulary. MP1 really was beyond him. That's when we switched to Simply Classical. With it's modified pace, and over-teaching approach, his reading began to improve. After a year and a half of SC, he began reading books for fun. He formerly hated them.

    He was at Frustration Level in MP1 even though all circumstances said he should be fine as long as we took it slower.

    After switching to SC, we then had him evaluated for some other life-long struggles that weren't getting better. We found out that he had very little strength in his core -- his brain was focusing alot of its energy on sitting up during school, never mind doing the schoolwork. They also discovered vision problems that a normal eye appointment wouldn't pick up. His eyes could converge -- but they couldn't hold convergence. He could track -- but only for the first few lines of text and then his eyes would start jumping.

    If we hadn't given credence to the ongoing frustration, we never would have found out about any of this and he would likely still be struggling.

    From this and other experiences with our kids, I think the determining factor for these things is whether the frustration is temporary (a few weeks) or whether it's ongoing and/or worsening. Kids have to work and school takes work, but if the frustration/push-back doesn't respond to normal parenting, it's often a sign that something deeper is going on and the challenge level is beyond what they can rise to at that time. So we step back, scaffold more, restructure...whatever is needed for them to begin moving forward at a pace they are objectively capable of.

    When I read your original post, it sounded like you would want to continue stretching them, seeing the frustration only as a character-building opportunity, rather than a possible warning sign. I probably read too much into it.

    I hope that makes more sense!
    Blog: [url][/url]

    DS16: MP, MPOA, HSC, Breaking the Barrier French
    DS15: MP, MPOA, HSC
    DS12: Mash-up of 6/7M
    DS11: SC 4
    DD9: 3A with First Form Latin (long story!)
    DD8: Mash-up of SC 1/2
    DD5: January birthday, using SC B and C as a two-year JrK



      I am bad at making my thinking visible. Maybe this makes sense: It's not the character that is the problem. I think character qualities emerge over the long haul and with you as his Mama and God at his side, that's not a big concern. I was trying to brainstorm specific ideas or practices that would help his mind see something differently. You mentioned he would regress sometimes voluntarily - and it only gave me the idea that if he can see backwards, then seeing forwards isn't any different. If he doesn't like what's right in front of him, age wise, I wondered about having him look farther ahead and try to really picture the details of the man he wants to be. Whoever that man is, has a lot of amazing adventures ahead of him, but that same man has real responsibilities. Who does he need to be now to be ready to be that man later?

      You made a very astute observation about my form of thinking: that I seem to function out of fear. It's not wrong, but I'm not sure my fears make sense. For example, I do get scared of discouragement. When you get to the point where you accept the concept of " I can't", it's strange, but it seems to grow exponentially. If kids create that category in their head, then it's easy to start throwing many more things into that box. Maybe it's wrong, but I'm more than happy for kids to wait until adulthood to decide to create that category, because there isn't anything I'm going to throw at them that can't be done, one way or another.

      I fear labels too, maybe more than anything. Loathe them actually. When you give someone a label, or accept one for yourself, you have put yourself into a box. The problem is that you have no control how other people have shaped that box based on their own thoughts and experiences. What's worse is the box is laughably subjective. I'm not an expert, but I am not sure that we, as human beings, are even capable of doing anything but "categorization" of everyone else, based on the boxes we develop over our lifetime of experiences. When you think about it, categorization is the very first thing we teach children. "Which is the same? Which is different? What color is it? Which one doesn't belong? Which is bigger/smaller/stronger/weaker/faster/slower? I suspect our brains love boxes, and we love to put whole groups of people into them so that we feel like we can understand them better. After all, there are only 7.5 billion people in the world today. It's a lot easier to comprehend them if we have a way to sort them. Categories are everywhere - Age, gender, race, marital status, political affiliation, citizenship, education level, tax bracket, occupation, zip code, cholesterol level, activity level, bmi, social media connections, likes, followers, Amazon reviewer status...we start filing people into their "boxes", and you can create a pivot table of who they are, and more, what they can do and what they can't do. What happens when something negative goes into the box for a large chunk of the population? What happens when the world turns against that category outright? That scares me, because it takes generations to unwind a bad categorization, no matter if it's right or wrong.

      Fearfully and wonderfully made...that's how scriptures put it. I can't help but believe with all of my heart that so many of the labels we have created only limit the category of wonderfully made, and replace it with "disorder". Yeah. It scares me. The challenges are at most, annoying, but they don't scare me. They are just different sorts of challenges. If Anne Sullivan can teach a blind and deaf girl to conjugate Latin verbs using finger motions on her palm (to say nothing of English, French, German and Braille) ...if Mama Mendeleev can make sure that her "odd" son got an education ( by riding across Russia - twice, and Alexander Graham Bell's mother and wife were both deaf and yet still found a way to communicate and inspire him to find a better way to talk to them, paving the way for the telephone....and seriously, my favorite, who other that Mary, Jesus' Mama, is a better example of the challenges of raising a child with special needs... I just deal with the challenges as they come, and I rage against the labels because they fixate on what is thought to be bad, utterly ignoring what was created on purpose. Every time I see a challenge, or a frustration, I'm looking for something else - something that is there on purpose. Yet, no matter what that purpose is, generally speaking, the line doesn't move on most things. Why would I say that? Despite all of the challenges with your kiddo, you didn't stop until that boy could read, and more than that, enjoy reading. You didn't stop when he was at "can't read". You pushed and went a totally different way - one that was foreign and off the beaten path. You didn't stop at "he's lazy". You pushed to find if there was something more. Seriously, how many people would stumble onto the eye convergence issue? How many people would dig and dig and dig until they understood that his core needed some intervention? Who would have guessed that? Maybe someone who obsessively sought answers, knowing and believing that they were "knowable". No, all Mama's don't do this.

      "You" didn't stop. Please don't be mad. But I hate it when you describe yourself as OCD - but only because I hate the "D" part. It's just wrong, saying any part of you is a "disorder" - as if somehow, God messed up. My first thought when I read your testimony about yourself was this - "She doesn't have a disorder. She's just a Mama who God knew so well, that when He made her, He made her so that she just didn't have any level of QUIT in her."

      On purpose. May He bless us all with a Mama like you. A Mama who just doesn't have any quit in her.

      DS (MP3) - 9
      DS (MP2) - 7/8
      DS (K) - 6
      DD (Adorable distraction) 2 1/2


        Well, Jennifer, you sparked some interesting discussion over the weekend! While we do not want to overly categorize or label anyone, sometimes the first step in seeing our children's needs begins by understanding that those needs exist. This can be difficult to discern. Various labels can help us discern and define the needs, not only in our children but also in ourselves.

        I agree with Melissa that in our DSM-V era we want to avoid dissecting and then magnifying every little human weakness into the status of a disorder; yet I also understand Jen's desire to be sure she is not overlooking something that might warrant more attention. His "soft signs" and family history may warrant more attention: difficulty learning, attention, maturity, etc. If you're able to screen via someone in person, let us know how this goes for him.