Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Think, child!

Back in my school teaching days, before I was a has-been, I spent the end of the school year reminding parents of the importance of having their child continue math and reading practice over the summer months. Particularly for the children in my reading class, those students who fell below grade level (think what you want about ability grouping, it doesn't matter for the sake of this conversation), I highly encouraged parents to plan regular skills practice. Thankfully, some of those parents even chose summer tutoring and many came to my home for this instruction. While my tutoring business is no longer in business, my own children have been regular attenders in my summer tutoring/don't lose skills over the summer program. Now that I have the benefit of being former teacher and current parent, I would add one more area to those which parents need to assign regular practice and that is the area of problem solving. Here we are the week before the school year officially begins, and I am seeing major deficits in the problem solving abilities of the elementary school students in this household.

Take this scenario from yesterday as a prime example:

Child holding a handful of Tic-Tacs (which, by the way, I did not buy but which were given to the children): Mom, does this count as a healthy snack?

Mom: Exactly what would make you think that this is a healthy snack?

Child: Ummmm, it's under 100 calories.

Mom (after thoughtful pause): Hmmmm. This is true. I applaud your math skills but exactly which ingredient in those Tic-Tacs might you classify as healthy?

Child (without thoughtful pause): Mint?

Mom: That's an interesting guess. Why don't you go check the package label for the amount of vitamins and protein present in that handful of Tic-Tacs and get back to me.

Child (skipping off, thinking he or she will soon be enjoying a handful of little white candies): Okay.

Mom (15 minutes later, after realizing that this child never returned): Hey, {insert name of child}, what did you find out about those Tic-Tacs?

Child (with sheepish smile): Oh, they're not healthy.

Mom: Did you find a healthy snack?

Child: Oh, yeah, but I have to ask you if it's healthy. It's another kind of thing with mint.

Mom: What is it?

Child: I don't know.

Mom: Well, did you check the package label?

Child: It doesn't have one (pulls a red and white peppermint from the drawer, which once again I did not purchase, I don't even like these things!) but here it is. Is this healthy?

Mom (leaving out the door for The Funny Farm): I'm not going to answer that question.

Interestingly enough, after my return from The Funny Farm, I assigned this child a chart to be filled out. The left-hand column was a list of "Things I know about healthy snacks" and the right-hand column was "Things I know about unhealthy snacks." This formerly deduction-challenged child was able to make some excellent points on both sides of the chart (minus the statement, "They are not healthy" listed on the right-hand side). When asked why I was asked about the healthy attributes of Tic-Tacs and peppermint candies, the sheepish smile returned with the statement, "I wasn't thinking." Smart child.

It's a good thing school starts on Monday. Guess what our first subject is going to be?

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