Your kids want to learn and grow
They aren’t deliberating thwarting your plans for them when they don’t apply all the information you thought they already knew. They aren’t skipping words when they read aloud because they are lazy or not trying hard enough. They aren’t being careless or undisciplined when they run out of steam for handwriting.
If you see signs of concentration followed by mistakes, it may be that your child maxed out the mental muscle powering that effort. Kids can’t bring full attention to the tasks adults take for granted for the same amount of time we might commit. They tire more quickly than we do because they are putting in more effort than we are.
Example: Most of us read to the end of the reader’s first page before your reading-aloud child has gotten to the end of the first sentence. When that happens, you will likely feel annoyed, bored, frustrated, and worried if your child skips a word or adds a word or says a word that’s not in that line. In part, your frustration comes from the sheer tedium of listening to a child sound out words! I know how exhausting that is! Imagine, then, how much more fatiguing it is to actually go through the work of sounding out and really seeing what the word is? Imagine how much your child wants to succeed and please you?
Take breaks, go slowly, give chances for your child to work alone, without you right by his or her side.
These principles apply for any subject: addition, remembering to borrow when subtracting, handwriting cursive letters, reading silently, reading aloud, learning phonics, freewriting, copying, filling in workbook pages…
Try not to cast your child’s “slowness to get it” in character-slamming language.
Don’t use words like:
lazy, doesn’t care, won’t work hard, never puts forth a full effort, distracted, willful, defiant, careless, “just how he/she is”…
Don’t ask rhetorical questions like:
Why can’t you….? Why don’t you….?
Can’t you remember one little thing we did from yesterday?
How can you make the same mistake three times?
Didn’t we just talk about this?
Keep the learning sessions short. Do the hard-to-get practice in a burst of devotion and then when tedium hits and you are tempted to clock your heads together, stop. Save the next effort for another day.
Over time, progress happens. Stay alert to your child’s struggles so that you may discover a “block” that you hadn’t noticed in your frustration. Keep going. Don’t give up. Trust the process and your child’s natural goodwill toward you.
Cross-posted on facebook.