but I swear my five year old acts more like an ENTp than I do!
There was an open house today at school. My son is in Kindergarten. When we got there (late) I took a seat in the back of the classroom and Travis joined his class for story time. He squirmed and walked off and spoke out of turn a couple times, nothing too bad.
Then he asked to go to the bathroom. One of the other students said, “How come you always have to go to the bathroom?” The teacher allowed him to go, and when he didn’t come back for a while I went to find him. Another teacher was walking him back. When he saw me he yelled “Mommy!” and ran over to me. The teacher asked him to go back to the stairs and walk over to me. He went back to the stairs… down the stairs… to the water fountain for a drink… then back to us. He almost forgot not to run again… The teacher told me that she heard yelling from the boys room so she went in there to find Travis climbing on the stalls and shouting.
We went back to the classroom for story time and he asked me to sit on the rug with the students. Seemed like a good idea to me, so we took a seat. One of the little girls said, “Are you Travis’s mom? Did you know he’s really bad?” I told her that he was learning to cooperate.
After story time the teacher showed them the letter of the day, J. She had the students pass out little dry erase boards, markers, and erasers. They were to practice the letter J. Travis has been writing Js for a couple of years now… He drew a few odd shapes and then raised the board to show me. He said, “It’s a box J.” The shapes were laid out in the shape of a J. Then he decided to draw lines to help him with his Js. He drew a very thick line, scribbling over it many times. Then he started to draw the dotted line… he got about halfway through the board and started dotting down instead of across… then back up horizontally again. Then he drew the bottom line, which too low and not quite straight. He then decided to scribble over the top line some more.
At this point the little girl next to us looked at Travis’s board. On her board were a few perfect Js, better than I could write. She said, “You can’t make the lines like that!!!” It was all I could do not to laugh. Her mother was right there and told her to stop…
Then the teacher came over and asked to see Travis’s Js. He made a few attempts which did not turn out to look anything like a J (remember, he’s been writing Js for years… one time he even surprised me by writing my name, which I didn’t teach him). She helped him with one and then watched him write a couple of Js. As Travis was finishing up he noticed that there was a small mark on the floor from his marker. He used the dry erase board eraser to get rid of the mark. He then drew on his hand and tried to use the dry erase board eraser to get the marks off his hand. That didn’t work as well so he got up and went to wash his hands.
At this point the students went to their tables to work on their worksheets. Travis told me to sit by them, so I grabbed a chair that was off to the side. Travis said, “No mom! You can’t take that chair, that’s one of the kid’s chairs!” Not understanding what he meant, I continued over with the chair. He said, “No mom! Where is that boy going to sit if you take his chair? You have to get a different one. Put that one back where it belongs.” He showed me where the chair was supposed to go. Sure enough, there was a little boy standing there…
I pulled up a chair as the kids opened their workbooks. A little girl at Travis’s table told me that he’s bad… As Travis opened his workbook I saw pages from previous days. They were all pretty much the same. There was a line for the student’s name and the date, two rows of the alphabet in upper and lower case where they circle the letter of the day, an area to practice writing the letter, and then an object like a barn or a truck with letters inside where they circle only the letter of the day. The opposite page had a couple of random objects to color.
In Travis’s book there were many sloppy letters and colored objects. He had changed a few of them to be different objects and drawn himself, his dad, or me in some of them. He even explained a few of them to me! In the part where he was supposed to circle only the letter of the day…in some of them he had gotten a little carried away and circled most of the letters (not because he didn’t know which ones were or were not the letter of the day), in some of them he drew lines between the circles connecting them, and in some of them he’d drawn circles between the letters! Something started to click in my mind…
I was talking a bit with the kids at the table. A boy told me that Travis is very bad and gets time outs all the time. I told him that Travis is learning to cooperate. He didn’t let it go though, and Travis said, “Stop telling her that!” The little boy said, “But it’s true!”
I said, “If you did something wrong and you were sorry about it and someone kept talking about it, how would you feel?” He stopped… Then he was trying to tell a story and mentioned that they’d been in school for a month. He stopped and changed it to one hundred days, then a week… he was still thinking about it when I pointed to the date on the board.
I said, “Today is 9-16, right?” He agreed. I continued, “You started school on 9-1. That means that 9-1 was one day. How many days have you been in school?”
Travis blurted out “Sixteen!” instantly. I ignored him to give the boy a change to think about it. He was making wrong guesses, and Travis said, “Mom, it’s sixteen!” I told Travis to let his friend think about it.
I said, “Well, 9-1 was one day, 9-2 was two days…” and continued counting up. The boy guessed 20 days…
When Travis wrote his name he made the S kinda goofy. He said, “This is how I make my Ss”. I asked him how people would know it was an S, and he said, “They can just ask me what it is and I’ll tell them.”
I said, “But honey, the whole reason that we write is so people can tell things to each other without talking.” He thought about it for a moment and said “Okay“.
Travis continued coloring when the teacher announced that those who were finished could play. Travis finished very quickly and went to play with the lego. The teacher mentioned that he always plays with the legos. I told her he does that at home and day care, too. At this point one of the children told me that Travis builds awesome things with legos. A couple of kids watched him build for a bit. Travis does indeed build complex and creative things with legos!
Aside from a little bit of whining when I left, that was about it.
I had noooooo idea that my son was so much like me!!! As I watched him today one thing became immediately clear. He has absolutely no inclination to do anything just because that’s what others do or that’s what he’s “supposed” to do. He is full of ideas and wants to try his way of doing things. He’s quite good at figuring things out, too.
When he was one year old my parents bought those door knob covers for their house. You have to have hands big enough to press both rubber tabs in at once and grasp the door knob in about to turn it. They had been up for maybe half an hour when I found Travis playing in my parent’s room.
I asked Travis how he got in. He wasn’t even old enough to talk yet, but he led me to the pick that I used to unlock the type of door where there’s a hole in the knob that you use to push the part to unlock the door. He demonstrated how he shoved it into the hole at an angle so that when he cranked down on it the door knob’s mechanism would trip and he could open the door without having to turn the knob…
Okay, I wrote all that so I could ask for suggestions on how to help him do well in school. Right now he’s an ADD poster child. He can focus when he’s very interested in something, but otherwise he’s quite unruly. His teacher is very good with him, but she has to spend most of her time dealing with him. We have this system where he helps her fill out a sheet on how he did throughout the day. He gets points and his points earn him prizes. We’re still setting up the reward system, but just having the sheet seems to have helped a great deal already. I’m going to tie it in the a chart system at home which he will use to earn points. He will be able to watch TV, play on the computer, hang out with his friends, etc. as rewards. There will also be a weekly goal which can earn him a small toy or something like that.
I think this system will work wonders, but I still think he’s going to have a VERY rough time throughout school, and certainly not all teachers will be as good about working with him and keeping in close communication with me. And even with things improving, Travis is still not going to be an easy kid.
I have some ideas on how to explain things to him and handle him so that he’ll succeed, but I’d like more! One thing that will help is appealing to his sense of logic. He is more likely to go along with something if it makes sense to him than if it’s “just how it’s done“. Also, I think encouraging his ideas and creativity but helping him channel them will help him a lot short term and long term. Another thing is choosing our battles… so he’s probably the only kid who’s already colored all over his pencil box. So what? But we he says he’s going to the bathroom and then wanders off… that’s an important behavior to deter!
I also think that presenting everything to him as a choice will help. Instead of saying, “You can’t do that!” perhaps try, “What do you think will happen if you choose to do that?” In fact, before any of this came about I started asking him, “What’s my job as your mommy?” He knows the answer. He says, “To teach me how to make good decisions.” That’s how I remind him to stop and think when he’s about to get into trouble…
I really want him to develop his strengths and learn some control over his weaknesses. Ideas? Comments?