Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Educational Breakthrough

Charissa is reading. 

The Princess has always been pretty self-driven.  She honestly taught herself how to write the entire alphabet - a development I'm still trying to grasp.  One day, she sat down, pulled out her little writing pad with the ABC's and proceeded to write each letter five or six times until she liked the look of it, then she'd move on to the next letter.  She knows their names and sounds, too. 

I'm brilliant PRAISE GOD!!!!

For Christmas, she received some of the Bob books and so last week I decided to try having her read the first one.  I brought it out with much excitement, pumping her up for this great step in life. 

"Charissa, you're going to read your FIRST BOOK!!" 

She slumped.  She moaned. 

"YAY!!  We can DO this thing!  Reading is FUN!!!"  I encouraged and jumped and smiled.

She flopped down next to me and sighed as she turned to the first page.

With hardly any trouble she read the first book about Mat who sat and all that sort of thing. 

"YOU DID IT!!!  GOOD JOB!!!"  I was ecstatic. 

She fell down.  She groaned. 

"Take your book to Daddy and show him your FIRST BOOK!!!"  This was followed by her stumping up the stairs listlessly holding the book and dropping it on the floor in front of Doug while pouting.  Doug praised her all over the place and Charissa never cracked a smile.  She came back down stairs, handed me the book and then went down stairs.

I was shocked.  What went wrong?  I didn't push her, I had encouraged her, I had kept a positive attitude - why was she such a floppy wreck?

Later, I spoke with my Mom about the whole scenario and how confounded we were at her behavior leading to and proceeding such an accomplishment in life.

You might know or you might not: I'm the eldest of 13 kids, all homeschooled K-12.  I consider Mom an expert.  She has earned her honorary doctorate in child development, psychology and pedagogy.  After a good conversation with her, this is what I took from it.

Charissa is a bright little lady.  Because she is more on the independent side and is self-motivated, the hullabaloo might have made her respond like this for two reasons. 

First, she might have believed her task to be to difficult for her to accomplish.  After all, she taught herself the entire alphabet with minimal help or encouragement.  All the praise could have put her off while thinking this was a far more difficult task than she had previously attempted when in truth, it was just the next step.

Second, she might have been turned off by how enthusiastic I was acting.  She might have been thinking, "I can totally do this.  You don't have to be so freaky about it."

Mom recommended that next time I be far more matter of fact about it.  Just tell her "here is the next book for you to read" and act like it's the most normal thing in the world.  Give her a brief word of praise at the end with affirmation such as "I knew you could do it."

I used this approach a couple days later and it worked beautifully.  She read the book happily.  She even pretended to not know the word "Sam" and said "hamburger" instead - which is far more her style than being a limp, whiny noodle.  I'm seeing a bright future of reading happiness.   It's nice to have two self-motivated people in our home.  (P.S. I am not one of them)

Different children, different reading styles.  I wonder what Brandt has up his sleeve.  Whatever comes, I'm glad I have an expert just a phone call away.  Thanks, Mom :-)

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