Saturday, February 28, 2015

Parenting Month 52: Passing tests

A new belt

This month's milestone was T's advancement testing for Taekwondo. He passed! Of course, the issue is not if the dojang passes him, when dealing with pre-schoolers, it is silly to hold them to a real serious standard. The question at hand is how does he handle himself in a setting where he needs to perform on demand. The norm is to be scattered and play around, another common reaction is to freeze in nervousness (which is T's historical norm), the goal of a preschooler in a martial arts program is to pay attention and follow when being specifically addressed (and generally you accept being relatively stationary the rest of the time.)

Under those standards, T did very well.  As a child who does not like crowds, he handled the crowd and structure of testing day well (much bigger group than I have ever seen there). So we were gratified to see him dealing with it through chatting with the instructors (benefit of being one of the first to show up), concentrating on his forms, and even paying attention as it was everyone's turn. (of course, it probably was because he was trying to remember the forms of the upper ranks)

Another source of gratification is that he was focused during his turns. He was grouped with the smaller (i.e. younger) kids (4 year olds) and the obvious thing that makes 4 yr olds different than 6 yr olds is that 6 yr olds pay attention to what they are doing and the 4 yr olds generally did not.  So that he did focus on what he was supposed to was good to see. We don't often get a chance to see him in a setting with other kids his age, but being able to focus on what he is doing is something we have tried to encourage in many areas.

Other activities for the month include more cooking. I've been letting him work on the stove for making jello, pudding, and pies from mixes. And having him stir while the pot is on the stove. This has two problems, one the danger from a hot pot or stove, which is not as visually apparent as a knife blade is, second, that these required continuous stirring over a period of time. Reality is that his endurance is just short of what is needed here. If he gets to the point where he can stretch out another minute, he will reach the point where he can see the transitions in form caused by the food being exposed to heat. But for now, he likes the activity of doing something that we tell him is dangerous and that he needs to be careful around. And it provides another way of discussing perseverance and focus on task. (in addition to the usual comments about cooking being a good way to talk about math)

He continues to read more. This past month we have realized that he is pretty much out of the emerging reader series.  His current reading level is Dr. Seuss. The shorter books he reads happily away (including reading them to his baby sister) Long books such as Cat in the Hat are possible, but when he finished Cat in the Hat, he was tired (he did not realize how long the book was going to be.

Another area is preparation for kindergarden. I took T to an open house for one school that we are looking at (because they will take in someone who has not turned 5 before September). It looks promising. After a couple of rooms he warmed up to our student guides and was chatting away with them. I have noticed on previous occasions that the older kids are used to interacting with the younger ones, and had an opportunity to discuss it with some of the staff who explained how they encourage it. And we talked about how the evaluation would be done (basically, the primary evaluation would be from his preschool, which is not something that we will worry about).  There is a clear difference in T thriving in a smaller environment, and this is besides the fact that we don't like the idea of T being in pre-Kindergarden for a period approaching two years, then being in a half-day kindergarden (which is what our area is like). So this school has a lot of things going for it in our book.

A also had a big 9 month milestone.  Her first deliberate word (i.e. not counting the various vocalizations like mamamabababagagaga *sqwawk*)  ah-ooh, to be used when something drops or falls.  I'm particularly happy because I've been trying to train her to say this over breakfast all month.  And this was actually T's first deliberate word as well..  S thinks that ai-yaah is a candidate for a second word, which she clearly picked up from her big brother.  I'm not convinced that it is deliberate as opposed to mere mimicking.

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