Monday, November 29, 2010

Tiring Teachable Moments

I love teaching my kids. I wouldn't homeschool them if I didn't. There are times when they really need to learn something and the process of teaching them is so exhausting I really question if it's worth my sanity to do it. Case in point, my oldest learning to load a dishwasher. Now you have to remember my oldest is 16 y.o. and has global developmental delays and a serious memory problem. So the following is not what we go through just a few times until he learns something. The same events have been happening for a very long time (a year or more). He is finally showing some improvements and slowly getting it (HURRAY), but the process is mentally and emotionally exhausting. This is how it goes:

I sit at the kitchen table working on lessons, planning meals, doing grocery lists, etc. while he works at the dishes.

Me: Son, open the dishwasher.  .......(pause)....... Quit playing with the cup and open the dishwasher. What are you looking for?  .......(pause)....... Open the dishwasher.

Son opens the dishwasher and then begins to play with a pair of tongs.  CLACK CLACK CLACK

Me: Son, stop playing with the tongs.  Put them down. (CLACK CLACK CLACK) Put the tongs down on the counter. (CLACK CLACK CLACK) I have asked you to put the tongs down now. Put them down.

Son finally puts the tongs down and then proceeds to pick up a different pair and CLACK CLACK CLACK.  I redirect the same for that pair of tongs and after basically the same exchange he puts them down.

Me: Put the cups in the top rack. Stop rearranging the cups that are in there. Don't even touch them. Stop. Get a cup from the sink and put it in the rack. Don't move another one just put it in. Good job. That's what you need to keep doing now.

Son starts talking about something not pertaining to the job and then stops doing the job as I'm telling him I won't discuss anything with him until the job is done (big eye rolls). I have to talk to another child only to find Son no longer at the sink and sitting on his bedroom floor. After repeated queues to get up and come finish the job he finally gets back there and finishes loading the cups. This is where the improvement is! A year ago I would have had to go back through how to load the cups, redirecting him back to the cups, etc. and now he is able to go back to it and finish that portion of the job. Then he has to start on the plates, but since his mind is stuck on the cups this is what happens.

Me: Son stop rearranging the plates. Stop. What is on the plate you are staring at?  .......(pause)....... Don't touch the plates that are already in the dishwasher. Stop. Get a plate from the sink. Put it in the dishwasher. Now you got it! Get another one. Keep going because now you are doing it. Good job.

This too is an improvement over a year ago. At this point a year ago I would have had to continually redirect him back to the sink to get yet another dish to put it into the dishwasher. He would have been so fixated on rearranging the dishes in the dishwasher he would not remember to get another dish out of the sink. He will also keep working independently with less queues and then ask to have me check what he has done which is a huge improvement.

Me: What are you doing? (his hand is down the drain) Remember you are supposed to answer when someone talks to you. Why is your hand down the drain? .......(pause)....... What are you doing?  .......(pause)....... Answer please.

Son: I'm getting something down the drain.

At this point his hand has been down the drain for almost 5 minutes and he finally pulls his hand out but there is nothing in his hand. I then redirect him to the silverware and after another 10 minutes of redirection and almost 5 more to get the soap in, he is finally done. I give him a high five for completing the job and tell him I'm proud of him for completing the job without getting mad.

It's such hard work for him and I hate to see him struggle like this, but if I never push him or make him do things that are hard he will never accomplish anything. It is so exhausting to keep doing this day after day. I know eventually a switch will flip in his brain and all of a sudden he will get it and on that day we will both be doing a happy dance. I'm not saying he won't forget a good portion of it the next day because I'm sure he will. It will just come back quicker each time until he finally remembers it easily whenver he's asked to do the chore. In the meantime, I will keep up my patient reminders and when he finally finishes the job I will take a few minutes to rekindle my spirit so that we can tackle his next endeavor.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for such a thorough description of what you do! I am learning from you!