Monday, October 29, 2007

banishing the doubt

I have this hung up on my wall downstairs.
I need it hung up on the wall. I'd tack it to my forehead if I could see it all the time and I thought it'd sink in.

I'd like to thank everyone for the encouragement over the weekend - for all the helpful and wise words - and to Steph - that was a hilarious comment, and I appreciated it well!
I've had a couple of days to think about the whole thing.

It was never about (well, not in any sense that mattered - maybe for a split second, but I know better than that) my son not being up to par with peers. I'm encouraged enough by the knowledge, skills, and interests he demonstrates. Trev is very interested in his world.
I think what it came down to first was wondering if writing is something all children are interested in quite naturally at that age, and then if I had been dismissive of its importance in my own thoughts and actions - ie, been of the mind "he'll do it when he's ready" and not thinking twice (until now) about it.

We have tools around, of course. Worksheets that I've made for tracing, lots of dry-erase picture books and workbooks. They're never used. Aside from drawing letters outside with sidewalk chalk and our few games that we play writing letters, we don't do much.

So the question becomes - have I been remiss?

Since most of the time my children don't seem to have any lack of interests and resources, I don't bother them. I just let them go on their merry way. All on their own they get out tools, equipment, different toys, or ask to do different things.
Most of the time I don't lead them at all.
Strewing has become a non-issue around here, as it hasn't been necessary of late.

I wonder now if I have been a bit careless in leaving it entirely up to him. I don't intend to take his choice away, and demand (or even request) "you will learn this now", of course, but I wonder if I've been remiss in not demonstrating well something that is extremely useful and valuable.
Such as "I'm going to make the grocery list - do you want to help?" And "I'm writing in our blog" and "I'm writing a letter".

I had a thought along these lines that I could offer to write down his very interesting stories. He loves making dinosaur movies, but is embarrassed by the way his voice sounds (aren't we all?) in the recordings.
Perhaps making books would be more to his liking. I could write the pages. He could help if he wanted. He could draw dinosaurs, or plants, or put stickers in, or whatever.

These ideas are absolutely not meant to manipulate him into satisfying my own needs and ego. It's about exposing my children to yet another tool or medium that's at their disposal. The last thing I want to do is to create hard feelings related to learning and discovery.

So my best answer is to practice consciously -but naturally and not manipulatively!- offering this tool as an option - while being completely unattached to whether my children pick it up, or not.


Melissia said...

I was having similiar doubts because Ari will never let me read her stories. I went out and did some research on how kids learn to read and write. It talked a lot about labeling their pictures when they draw. They see the words and the context, I bet it works very much the same for learning to write. We also get out cookie sheets and pour salt on them and I will doodle, write Ari's name and so on. She is doing her own thing beside me but still seeing letter creation. I do not think you are remiss. He will ask you when he wants to know how to write don't you think?

Stephanie said...

I do.
I realize it's not as if he has never been exposed to the written word, or penmanship. I certainly haven't hidden anything from him, and it's not as if it's some Great Magical Secret that I'm determined to now shine a light upon.
I don't really mean that, I don't think.

And it's not as if I'm doubting our lifestyle at all, or that I doubt my children's ability to know when the time is right for them to know or explore something, either.

I guess it's about me offering it up, but even in the posting of I was wondering if demonstration/mention was strictly necessary.
There are lots of things that he's been interested in that I've never pointed out as "useful knowledge", of course.
Interest is just that, interest.

I guess I was just wondering if I had shown writing as an option - or made it evident that it was a useful tool or medium - which I don't think I have. (again, not they get ideas or interest only or even mostly from me) Instead of "reading" or "checking mail" -as is my usual response- I could have said/can say "writing a note to my friend about..." or "I'm reading about___," if you see what I mean. Not necessarily dismiss what I am doing as unimportant, or boring, which it certainly isn't, to me.
Do you see what I mean?
I have before dismissed what I do as "not really worth mentioning", instead of "these things bring me pleasure" or are useful to me.

But still, I expect they can make their own minds up about such things.
Just wondering if it's the same as expecting a kid to say "I wanna go to a museum" when he's never been offerred such things, or seen any benefit to visiting such a place.

Stephanie said...

By the way - my children had a DIS interest in books for about a year - maybe even longer.
Trev even said to me once (during his Cartoon Network stint for several weeks, even) "Books are SO BORING! Cartoons are much more exciting, and have moving pictures!"
Or some such great heresy.
Bout killed me, but I held on.
Now books are our friends. I must admit I like the "books are our friends" a bit better.

Stephanie said...

PS again - the salt thing sounds fun. I'd probably wanna do sugar, as we always have more of that! :)
I think making designs out of colored sugar might be a fun project.

piscesgrrl said...

Seems to me you can do that if'n you want, but don't forget that there's a whole lotta stuff going on in those kids' heads, and a whole lotta stuff that they're aware of that you haven't seen yet, so get conscious of it if you want, but don't worry about beatin' it to death. LOL (Not that I think you would!)

Story... took Jonathan to preschool screening (ya, eons ago, shows where we were in the journey) and among many tasks, they asked him to stack a pile of blocks. He shook his head no. The psychologist or whomever she was tried all sorts of ploys to get him to do it, "I'll do it first, see? Like this!" etc etc. No go. I interrupted and said, "For what it's worth, I know he can stack blocks." But she wanted to see him do it. She wasn't awful about it, just sweetly coercive. He still wouldn't do it and she moved on. A few minutes later she had to walk away to get something, and when she returned, there was a tower of stacked blocks. She beamed and said, "YOU did this?" and he refused to look at her.

Wise little one, eh? They see through the crap long before we do!

whimsigal said...


What you said at the end is key. Offer up a million things just don't take it personally if they say they're not interested. We're working on that as well.

undoubtedly they will surprise you with a desire to do something that you hadn't even considered and then you'll be wondering why you questioned yourself in the first place. LOL That's what usually happens around here anyway.


Stephanie said...

Laura and Evie -
what you say is true.
I guess I just am worrying at this particular moment about the need to "enrich their environment" - wondering if I'm at fault for letting them be.
I'm past the point (usually) of them performing for my sake.