Monday, January 13, 2014

Rabbits and turtles

We all know the Aesop fable, the Tortoise and the Hare. This story has a special place in the home of a homeschool mom. How often do we encourage our kids to slow down, do well, plod on? "Slow and steady wins the race!" Or, how many of us speed through our day at the pace of the hare, tire out, and then take a nap? Ok, that last one is too true.

Our kids can be like rabbits and turtles. Turtle children go slow and methodical. They have a system, a very very slow system. They might be proficient at math, following all of the steps and doing each problem accurately, but it takes them hours to get there. Mom stands behind the turtle child, tapping her foot. It's like watching paint dry.Slow as a tortoise

Then, there is the rabbit. The rabbit child sees the next word in the phonics exercise and inserts the first word that comes to mind. Three more words follow in rapid succession. Mom is left gaping at the first word, because the rabbit child seems to have used "word association" instead of phonics. Sometimes the rabbit child gets the word right. Was it a fluke? Who knows. Mom has to pull Rabbit-child back to the starting word.

"Not quite. What's this word?" Mom pointing.

Rabbit-child, who was perfectly happy with her own progress, spurts the first word that comes to mind.

"Try again. What sound does this letter make?"

and so on. That is a sample reading lesson with a Rabbit-child.

Fast as a hare

A sample reading lesson with Turtle-child goes like this,

Mom: "What's this word?"

TC: "c" (pause) "aaaaaaaaaaa" (long pause) "t"

Mom: "and what did that just say?"

TC: "c" (pause) "aaaaaaa" (long pause) "t"

Mom: "do you know what that word is that you just sounded out?"

TC: "cat?"

One word down, 2 more in the sentence to go! By the end of the sentence, the full meaning was entirely lost.

My first child was Turtle-child, and my second child was Rabbit-child. I'm beginning to see my third child's personality immerge. Today, she was Rabbit-child, speeding ahead and guessing at words. Word-guessing is a complaint I hear often from fellow moms. I think this trait might be especially strong in Rabbit-children. I was rather surprised by the rabbitiness of her reading lesson, since she has the strong willed, outspoken, independent resolve of her turtle sister.

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