Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Purple Cow

Home educating Tink is a continual battle. Tink has been diagnosed with a sensory integration disorder. She is 9 years old and in the 4th grade. Life is not easy for these children. Tink is reading at a beginning 2nd grade level and is highly resistant to schooling in any form. I started homeschooling her this past March when nothing else seemed to be working. Some days I think she's coming along nicely then for no reason known to man she loses it. I'm learning a lot through the nuero therapeutics and the methods have helped tremendously. But the battle still goes on.

The most amazing thing is how swiftly a class can deteriorate. So we're reading along and Tink comes to a word she doesn't know. I help her with the word and all seems well. She reads two more words and suddenly without warning her head is on the table and she's crying her eyes out. "I didn't want you to help me with that word. Waaaa!"

She slides out of her chair to her own surprise and quickly rights herself. She' s growing hysterical,"I hate reading. I never will like reading. You told me the word. I don't want help. She bangs her book on the table. Don't talk to me. I don't want to listen. My head hurts. Just let me read my own way."

I try to explain to her that her way makes it unable for her to understand the story.

You can only mix up the words of and for and when and then and that and what a few times and skip every other word in between before the story makes no sense whatsoever. Tink so consistently mixes the examples above that I know for a fact she has totally learned them this way at the public school and nobody has caught it.

So she screams and whimpers and screams and slides under the table and plugs her ears refusing to listen and hums to herself while she rocks until my patience about wears thin.

I dare not let her know I'm frustrated or she will feed off of it and we'll get nowhere. The best thing I can do is leave the room with the order for her to finish the page while I do a five minute chore. When I come back she's usually got it done. She calms down and we move to the next thing .

Some times I can go through five or six different things until she shows an interest. Today it was a paper on punctuation. She saw it and started squirrming in her chair and chewing on her chewy as fast as she could. I quickly replaced the paper with one on nouns. She leaned forward earnestly looking at it while chewing. Suddenly she jumps back as if she's been bitten and starts to scream.

I calmly tell her to set her chair upright while at the same time reaching for a book of poems. She wiggles and wiggles and slides around on her chair but never quits eyeing the book. The poems are actually old nursery rhymes and they're one of the ways that children are taught reading fluency.

I ignore the wiggling and read the poem aloud to myself. At the end the author of the book writes the origins to the poem. I read Humpty Dumpty. Tink chews and wiggles but doesn't scream. "Hmm, I say, now isn't this interesting. Humpty dumpty was actually a cannon place on a wall during the war. It fell off and the kings men tried to fix it but never could. Isn't that funny? I really thought all these years it was an egg."

"Who cares about the stupid cannon! I hate this poem. I hate all poems," she shouts. "Poems are stupid. Words are stupid." She plugs her ears and screams.

"Oh, here's a good one," I say ignoring the fact that she's again about to disappear under the table. "Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle, the cow...."

"Stop," she screams you read that one to me last week. "I never want to hear it again."

I had to think for a minute. Indeed I had read it to her last week but she was under the table screaming. I didn't think she had even heard it.

I went on as if I hadn't been interrupted."Oh, look Tink, I loved this one when I was a kid. I still do actually. This guy wrote about a purple cow and later he hated is so badly that..."

"Cows aren't purple. What a stupid, STUPID poem." She was sliding back up in her chair. She bent over and looked at the poem.

"Yeh," I said, "He knew it was a silly poem. Later he got so mad at hearing everyone quoting it that he said he'd kill them if he heard it again."

Tinks leans over the book like a little old lady with poor eyesight. She's vigorously chewing her chewy. I let her silently read the poem. She doesn't get far before she says, "What did he say? Why did he want to kill them?"

"Well lets see what it says," I say matter of factly. " Read it with me." She begins reading the poem with me. She stays with me all the way to the end then laughs."That is a stupid poem."

Score one for ole mom. I made it through that hurdle. Math is next but I'll spare you. It goes the exact same way as reading. It's really all a very intricate dance. By the way if you're wondering about her use of the word stupid it's just a battle I'm not going to face right now. Eventually we're going to deal with it in behavorial therapy.

Later that day I overheard Tink telling her dad in animated tones. "Daddy did you know humpty dumpty was actually a gun. It fell off a wall and broke. And you know what? I read a really silly poem about a purple cow." Mr. Darling discusses it all with her and they actually have an "intellectual" talk. Sure it only lasted five minutes. But it was initiated by Tink! What a huge milestone. AND...Tink truly did enjoy the poetry. I was walking on air!

Tink not only heard the poem she understood it! This had to be one of my best homeschooling moments.

This is my entry to win a camera in the "Capture the Educational Moment" Contest sponsored by Spunky and Academic Superstore.

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