Sunday, November 7, 2010


Another conversation has started at our house on the Three R's.
Not the ecological ones.
The learning ones.
You know, reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. (which, I love to use because of the irony of arithemtic being spelled without an 'a', even though we are talking about academics. Don't you find that funny?)

Blogger aside to herself: No one understands my sense of humour. No one. I laugh alone at my own jokes.

I noticed that my eldest isn't writing stories like she used to. In fact, nothing as of late.
We sat down for a little tet-a-tet.

"Hey, Mowgli (she's in a Rudyard Kipling phase). I wanted to talk to you about something."
"Sure, Mom."
"But I need your full attention." I then put on my best voice of Disney's Jungle Book's character Kaa, saying, " Look at me with both eyes, if you please?"

Sidenote: Getting my daughter to break focus from what she is currently doing to engage fully in a discussion always needs a transition time for her. (Future upcoming posts on how to strengthen this cognitive function coming soon).
We've come up with a few code words to trigger that I need her to focus her attention fully on me. And since she's into the Jungle Book in a big way, it only makes sense that I pretend to be the hypnotic snake, Kaa, from the story and ask her to 'look at me with both eyes, if you please', the same way he does in the Disney movie version. Including the slithery voice.
It always evokes a laugh and were focused together on the discussion ahead.

"You know what I miss. I miss the stories that you would write. "
She ducks her head. I think she knows where this talk is going.
"Remember, the story of Bob? I laughed so hard reading the fun tale that you wrote about Bob and his family." (BRIDGING TO PAST SUCCESS)
"I hate that story!"
I wait for a few seconds and let the words settle onto the table.
"Hmmm. Why are you saying that?"
"Because I hate it."
"What about the story do you hate?" (MEDIATE FROM FAR AWAY)
She shrugs.
I pull out the Bob story. It's full of pictures, sentences and words--some misspelled and some correct.
"How about the story?" I read a passage from the story. (MEDIATE CLOSER LOOKING FOR THE ROOT CAUSE)
"I don't care to see it. It's all wrong!"
I sense we are getting close to the real reason.
"What part is all wrong?" (MEDIATE FAR AWAY)
"The words."
"How the words are spelled?" (MEDIATE CLOSER WITH A SPECIFIC QUESTION)
"Yes." She looks down.
BINGO! Competence is the problem.
She doesn't want to write unless she can do it perfect.

I spend some time with her discussing competence, the process of learning, and how we learn from our mistakes.
I bridged to the recent triumph of learning to ride her bike. We talked about how each time she got on the bike she made adjustments from the time before. She also mentioned that she was determined and focused and wanted to master it before the end of the day.
"So, what happened?" I asked.
"I learned how to ride my bike!"
" you think if were determined and focused and wanted to master writing and spelling that you could do it?"
"What if you adjusted what you learned from the times you made mistakes and spelled the words correctly--do you think that's something you could do?"
"I don't know."
"We're you able to do that with learning to ride a bike?"
"Do you think you could do the same with writing?"
"You know what, Mowgli. I know you can. I believe you can. I'd like you to try again. Not right now, but soon. Would you be willing to try?"
"Well, I look forward to it because I LOVE your stories."

The next afternoon, she sat next to me and said, "Do you want to read my story that I just wrote?"
"You bet I do!"

I read her story and pulled out five things that were absolutely fantastic about it. At this point, I'm not worried about the spelling mistakes. Re-introducing the desire to write down her thoughts is more important. The spelling will take care of itself.

Never look backwards or you'll fall down the stairs.
Rudyard Kipling

Mediating: Competence, perfectionism

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