Sunday, November 01, 2015

Parenting Month 60: Confidence and public performance

Some lists for the elder one.
  1. Favorite book: The Martian.  Runner up: Rosie Revere, Engineer
  2. Wake up song: Level Up by Vienna Teng
  3. Favorite color: Yellow, Green, and Red are the current rotation. (The concept of favorite needs some work)
  4. Favorite toy: LEGO
  5. Favorite taekwondo move: round kick
  6. Programming environment: Kodable Runner up: Scratch Jr.
  7. Museum: Carnegie Science Center
Stretching before testing
Stretching before belt testing

We are starting to get some feedback from his first year in school (Kindergarten).  The first month, there was some concern that he was not really socializing (which we expected), but that has largely ended. He is still relatively quiet, but he does interact with the other kids and all of the other teachers more. We have noticed that it seems like all of the other students (K-8) at his school seem to know who he is. We think it is a combination of being the smallest one in the school, and that he now has an identity as the kindergartener who practices piano during the after school programming.

One of the effects of school is socialization and comparison. And it seems that he has figured out that he is ahead in most areas. His reading is at least a grade level ahead. Math is actually unmeasured, but in what they are doing he has pretty down (at least if he is paying attention). Robotics and art he is ahead (basically this means he is very good at interpreting and following instructions, he really is not that good in art, no creativity. But robotics (LEGO and Scratch) is probably justified. That is called the effects of daddy school.) not sure so about Spanish or gym, but I suspect he is just fine there. The real problem right now is that he knows he is ahead.

Punching pads
Reverse punch with pads
The big issue with kids who are ahead in school is that they start to put worth in succeeding at something. And it makes struggling at something doubly problematic. In the past, he was not paying close enough attention to the other kids to matter, and mommy and daddy school was pretty challenging. So success in the past was valued in part as a reward for the effort it took. And he developed the focus and value of work to make things happen. But what we have started to notice is that he no longer can keep focused on task, and we think it is because at school, nothing he is doing requires extended effort on his part. Daddy school (museums and LEGO, woodworking, and games), is somewhat rare nowadays. But where we really see the effect is in piano. He actually does not have the endurance he used to for practicing. And he responds much worse to difficult passages. So this is a danger that we have heard about, but now we have to think about what to do about it.  On the other hand, we are really glad we accelerated him and put him in Catholic school.  Another year of Pre-K would have made things worse, and we think that in a public school, they probably would not even have noticed he was ahead at everything (he is neither behind, nor does he act up or talk a lot, so he would go right under the radar of a Kindergarten teacher with 20 kids for 2 hours the whole day.)

Watching others go through testing
Watching the others test
The other area that we are looking at is performance anxiety. While shyness is not overwhelming (he has started to learn to fall on the courtesies of taekwondo or Catholic school during regular interaction), he still freezes when he becomes the focus of attention.  We were hoping that had largely gone after a successful taekwondo tournament experience, but it is definitely still there. While he will never be the loudest or among the talkative kids in the group, we would like him to learn how to comport himself in the public eye, or at least learn methods of focusing on the task and ignoring a crowd around him.
For the younger, she now babbles with purpose. I'm convinced she is telling stories. Most fun is when she babbles while paging through a book, now we know what we sound like when we read to her :-D. Her favorite books are A Baby's First Book of Zombies and Hands, Hands, Finger, Thumb. And with those two she can do appropriate sounds effects for most of the page.
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