I’m just a parent, and like all parents, I am the one most concerned about my children, their lives, and their challenges — and this is something to remember when you are dealing with a child who, for some reason or another, just isn’t “getting it.” Though you may not be a lettered expert, you care more than any third party consultant, and do not underestimate how much you observe, question, research, agonize, hope, and pursue. Whatever challenges you and your child have, you are one of the most important people involved in the solving of them.
In the case of learning issues, it also doesn’t matter whether you are homeschooling (which is what my Thursday column focuses on) or participating in public or private school; with the former, you’re more on your own; with the latter, you work with a team of experts or professionals, which may or may not be a good or bad thing. Me? I like to limit the ingredients I put in the stew, and ensure that they are good ones.
We homeschooled four children with an age span of 9 years between the youngest and the oldest. Eldest Supreme, like many oldest children, was the embodiment of perfection, tackling the day’s assignments quickly, efficiently, and in a manner worthy to be praised. Of course, she also had the tendency to move onto Chapter 56 of the math book even though she was still struggling with the concepts of Chapters 35-45, but if you looked at external factors alone, she did what was expected.
Child Number Two, whom I hesitate to call the Middle Child because of the look she gives me, exhibited what many people would instantly identify as symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD). She could not sit still. She was never quiet. Writing for more than five minutes was an agony, and she had to get a drink of water, use the bathroom, and teach the dog how to shake paws.
She wasn’t bad. She wasn’t disobedient, something Christian parents especially obsess about. She was just . . . busy.
And so, I gave her an option: “Why don’t you run to the mailbox (300 feet away) and see if we got anything?” When she returned, with the news that there was nothing, I suggested, “Why don’t you check again? The mail carrier may have come by now.”
Of course, this cleverly subtle ploy quickly palled, and I simply encouraged her, every 30-45 minutes, to run around the property for 20 minutes or so, getting in Physical Education on an incremental basis. When she returned from her forays, she was able to sit, focus, and complete whatever task was before her that took less than 30 minutes.
As an adult, she told me this:
“Running around, between subjects, helped me. I had a lot of energy, and it expelled it so that I was able to sit and read, or write, or do math for awhile, and concentrate. I felt successful.
“You didn’t make me feel stupid. You didn’t make me feel like there was something wrong with me. You didn’t resort to a medication because the people around you said you should. You accepted the way I am and and found a creative way to work around it.”
Today? This child works multiple jobs with amazing, incredible, yet focused energy. She runs, she bikes, she swims, she lifts weights — and she reads Jane Austen. She doesn’t watch TV, play video games, or spend hours on Facebook, all of which our society calls normal. She is in phenomenal shape.
Your child, and your situation, will be different. I am not telling you to not use drugs, or to use drugs — but I am encouraging you to include yourself in the panel of experts you are consulting, and to listen to yourself — and your child — as you make your decisions.
Always remember this: NOBODY cares about you, or your family, as much as you do.
All four of my children write, and write well, and they never used a workbook. They simply wrote, using basic, easy to understand principles, that I outline in my book Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?”
Give it a try, and if nothing else, read it yourself so that you feel more confident about your own writing. $8.99 paperback, $5.99 digital at Amazon.com. Also available at Barnes and Noble.
“Carolyn does a great job of addressing common grammar issues and showing the reader how to work those out in their everyday writing. This can be used as a reference or as a daily or weekly lesson book.” — Amazon reader review