Monday, July 8, 2013

the decision to do life: ungraded

In recent weeks we discovered Bugaboo knows most of his capital letters. I have never sat down with him and had formal letter lessons. We read ABC books from time to time. There are magnet letters that both boys play with. The LeapFrog DVD has played every now and then.  My sweet 2 1/2 year old who has trouble communicating, who is developmentally delayed not only in speech but also in fine and gross motor skills, can name letters.  We are baffled, but in a good way.

I don't know how to get what is going on in his head to come out of his mouth or through manipulating things with his hands. He has meltdowns about random things, some of which we can figure out, and some of which we cannot. Bugaboo loves music. When we catch him singing, we can recognize the tune but often not the words. He loves swinging and spinning, but he hates being upside down. I know there is an incredible journey ahead with him, and even though I don't know what it will look like, I will take it one step at a time.

Therefore, I have made the decision to go with what he is interested in learning, what he seems to be learning, even though on all of the assessments he is still coming up under two years old.  We are still working on all of the things we have to do for his therapies, but there is a world to unlock for my youngest son.

Bubby turned four in May, and he can sound out simple CVC words. He has always loved books and being read to. He hates to color, but he loves to paint. Because he loves words and is always asking me how to spell things, I thought I would work on writing letters with him. But he hates tracing. He hates holding the pencil the way he needs to. So I find there is no rush or push this.  He quotes things from Veggie Tales, and asks a million questions a day. A high school band came to his preschool this year, and according to his teaching, he named most of the instruments.  He likes going to the pool, but he hates getting his face or head wet. He screams when we try to teach him how to swim. He gags on all vegetables except for peas.

Academically he is ready for kindergarten a year early (minus some of the motor and social skills). I don't want to push him too fast, but I don't want him to miss out on learning or get bored. So we have started working on reading and math on days when he wants to. Mostly we learn through play and books.

My boys have such different and yet some similar strengths and weaknesses. I doubt either of them will ever fit into a "grade one" or a "fourth grade" box. They will excel in some areas and struggle in others. So I will continue doing what I have been doing for the last four years - teaching them at home, with intentionality at times and just through life moments at others.

"Life: Ungraded" has a lot of different meanings to me:
  •  I don't have to stick my children in a grade level because they are a certain age. I can teach them what they need (and want) to know at the pace that best fits them. 
  • I also don't have to give them a grade on an assignment and move on. I can teach the mastery of skills and concepts. 
  • Our lives are not being graded. I am not being graded as a mom, as a teacher, as a person. I can live in grace and enjoy this time of learning with my children.

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