Fifty First Lessons

It sometimes feels like fifty first lessons when I am teaching my sprightly and sweet daughter, Tiana. At four years old, she struggles to remember concepts.

Part of it is probably her age and the other is I haven’t been as intentional about teaching her. I probably wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it if she was my first child, but since my three older boys all read early and got mathematics quickly, sometimes I get worried and frustrated about where Tiana is at academically.

After I teach her letter sounds and numbers, the next day, she will casually forget when I ask her, “What letter is this? What sound does it make? Or what number is this?” It reminds me of the movie, em>Fifty First Dates, where Drew Barymore plays a woman whose day resets every morning.

Tiana gives me a “Huh? Ummm,” and a blank stare. On the one hand, it’s awfully cute, the way she cocks one eyebrow up and makes a ridiculous frown with her bangs dangling over her face. She looks like the little kid in Despicable Me. The one who says, “It’s so fluffy!”

It almost seems like she is kidding around when she acts so clueless. But then I start to panic when it becomes obvious that she has totally forgotten something like what the numbers 1 to 10 are. As I vacillate between incredulous and forgiving, I think to myself, is she mentally challenged? Should I have her tested for a disability? Is she too young? Am I doing something wrong?

Deep in my heart I know she is a bright child. She has the gift of insight and sensitivity which is often times better than displays of academic ability. She is also a joyful child and very obedient.

However, when I am in the homeschooling zone, where I must put on my “parent-teacher” cap and cover pre-school concepts with her, I can be reactive. Since my boys were able to “get it” pretty quickly when they were her age then why can’t she? This isn’t complicated stuff. It’s basic. It’s simple.

Today I was tempted to compare her again when she couldn’t identify number 5. A few days ago she was confidentially doing so and then it was back to ground zero. I was about to give in to the annoyance that was building up inside of me, but God reminded me to apply what I tell other homeschooling moms.

I need to begin with the premise that she is capable. What I have to do is change my approach and methodology, even my goals. I may want her to be at a certain level in her academics at four years old but even if she isn’t, that’s alright. With repetition, consistency, intentionality, and creativity, (and prayer!) Tiana will most certainly learn. She learns everyday, even if she may forget her letters and numbers. But she definitely needs my guidance and my hopefulness. I need to encourage her and be positive.

So today, I adjusted my lesson plan and focused on the number 5. Just number 5. She has no problem counting, and she understands 1 is to 1 correspondence. But sometimes she guesses when she looks at the numbers, especially with numbers 5 to 9.

First, I made a list of 5’s on our white board easel. And then I had her write number 5 many times, as many times as she could. I repeatedly asked her, “What number are you writing now?

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“Number 5!” She would say with enthusiasm. Because she was writing with a white board marker, she didn’t mind at all. It didn’t feel like work.

After she wrote each column, I would play a “bring me” game with her. She had to bring me objects like 5 spoons, 5 stuffed toys, 5 pillows, 5 rocks, 5 shirts, 5 shoes, 5 books, etc.

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“This is game, right mom?”

“Yes, it is!” And she would go all around the house looking for the items. While Tiana was busy hunting for the objects, I attended to my sons. The game worked in my favor, too.

Every now and then I would call out to her, “What number is that?” “How many ________ do you have to bring me?” How old will you be this year?”

“(Number) 5!”

By the time Tiana finished her “game” she had unknowingly written one hundred number 5’s! Afterwards I gave her a blank sheet of paper and she victoriously wrote down the number 5 without looking at the white board. I tested her again in the afternoon and she still remembered.

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We shall see what happens tomorrow morning! Her brain may reset again but that’s okay. We will get through these fifty first lessons somehow, one day at a time, and by God’s grace!

Comments

  1. Lui Arrojo says:

    Cute & perhaps she is just confused between the numbers 5 & 9.

  2. High five Tiana!:-)

  3. she wrote 5 100 times wow! 🙂

    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      Yes! I erased the first set of numbers she wrote and then made her do another set and she didnt even realize how many she had written by the end! It helped that she was using a whiteboard marker which was easier to write with.:)

  4. Anonymous says:

    cute! this reminds me of a possible kinesthetic/tactile and visual learner =)

  5. Wow! Just when I’m starting to panic about my daughter who is also having a hard time learning her numbers and letters( and this kind of gives me doubt on whether we should homeschool), I come across your article. Thanks again for reminding me that by God’s grace it is possible. I am also trying to do one-letter-a-week artwork with my daughter to familiarize her with the letters. Got the idea on pinterest. 🙂

  6. Cute… 🙂 patience is a virtue. 🙂

  7. I had great difficulty with numbers as a kid and I only remembered them if I had to do something with them. Such as “buy” something. My cousins and I used pebbles as “money” when we made believe we had a “store.” So, the item marked P5 would need 5 pebbles. An older cousin had set it up. He probably didn’t realize he was teaching us that way. So, I think Tiana is fine.

  8. Hi Joy! 🙂 I can so relate to you — I went through something similar with our daughter. Before she turned 5 last year, I was tempted to panic because it seemed like she didn’t know most of her letters and numbers! I know it was partly my fault, too, because I hadn’t been teaching her as intentionally as I should have. After she turned 5 though, it seemed like everything just “clicked”! She could identify most of her letters, numbers, etc. BUT we’re still working on writing them. Like you, I sometimes end up comparing her and her older brother, but I really try hard not to. I also try to remember the “Better Late than Early” philosophy of Dr. Raymond Moore, one of the pioneers of homeschooling. 🙂 It has helped me be more “relaxed” somehow! God bless you and your family!

    • Joy T Mendoza says:

      Hi Tina! You know what seems to be helping is Logico Primo. Maybe you can look into it:) they sell logico products during the big September book fair. Or you may already know where to source these since you are such a resourceful mom!

  9. Ruth Ocampo says:

    Thanks Joy was reminded by the Holy Spirit through your blog to be intentional while ministering to my adult kids. God bless your work. Keep it up. They are God’s instrument to remind us to be faithful and intentional in all our ways as we model and teach others.

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