Thursday, April 21, 2011

an unexpected ah-ha moment.....

What do you do when your child struggles?  Do you have a child that just isn't "getting" a subject or concept?  Do you feel like you are at your wits end, having tried nearly every product out there and they haven't helped?

I have been feeling that way with Hunter lately.  Mostly with reading and spelling and getting down the multiplication facts.  It isn't that he can't do it....  it just doesn't stick in his head.

It isn't that we can't walk through the process and figure out the math problem.... it is that he has drilled and drilled them with computer games, but when he sees the same problem two hours later on a piece of paper.... the memory of it is Gone! Poof! Disappeared!

........and then, I am fighting the urge to bash my head against the nearest wall.......

We have used Explode the Code, Reading Kingdom, TATRAS phonics, The Victory Drill Book, Math Drill books, Math Rider, Flash Cards.....  anything and everything I can think of......  All of these products work to a point.... he is learning to hear and sound things out better and he can remember the facts as he plays the games...........  but absolutely not a one of them has helped spelling concepts to transfer over from the words he sees on  the screen into a pattern he can use away from the screen and apply to other words. Not one of them has helped him move a math fact repeatedly from the screen to a question in a math book.

( Note:  My purpose here is not to bash any of these programs....  They are wonderful, and if you ask my son, he loves working on every one of them...  I love them too they are great programs!!  I am just at a loss in how to turn that "key" or open up a door for my son.....  I am desperately searching for something to make it "click" for him)

So I keep searching.... looking up things on the Internet, trying new games, changing up routines so that he can tackle different things when he is fresh in the morning....  All the while..... silently bearing my soul to the Lord...... asking him to show me something that will work....

show me the one thing that will make it all click......

Let's rewind back to last week.  Crazy busy week....
You're organized and on it so I know you don't know what crazy weeks are.... right?


Tuesday was the April Pre-Show for Schoolhouse Expo.  And I will be honest....  I groaned when I realized it.  I already had to drive everyone everywhere in the afternoon, and I was afraid that I would be missing most of it.... I had that feeling of one more responsibility being piled on to a plate that was dangerously full.  I had no idea how I was going to manage to get it all done.........  but I purposed to listen, and asked God to help make the time available so I could try and hear at least SOME of the speakers.

I was able to run around and mostly be ready to listen at 1:30 when it started....then I had to leave and drop a kid at her games.... then she forgot something so I knew I had to go back with it..... I got home and someone was there that needed to use my computer ( I forgot that I had said yes come over and use it at that time.... ) the audio was annoying so they turned it off....  I missed a speaker....  I was trying to be gracious, and not pace back and forth, wondering what great information I was missing......

Computer usage done..... I was able to turn it back on, just as Dianne Craft was starting up.....  suddenly the house was quiet... the boys were playing outside and occupied....  I didn't have to run back to the ball field just yet....  dinner was already started....  I actually could devote all my attention to this speaker....  It was as if Jesus had calmed the stormy day.... just to focus my attention right here, right now.

So I took the hint.

I sat and was still.

Dianne talked about brains.... the right side and the left side of them...  How the side with the dominance can affect the way your child learns.

The title of the talk was "My child doesn't learn like my others: Right Brained Strategies"

Just reading the title; I was agreeing....  I was thinking to myself... " You're telling ME he doesn't learn like the other ones!!!!" ....  I was quickly getting eager to hear more..........

The first strategy that she spoke about was with Math Facts....  Flash cards and Math Games have BLANKS at the bottom of the problem..... She said that Right brained kids will make a mental imprint of the flash card....  so to them when they see 9x4=  in their math book........and they try to recall what they saw and recorded in their head when you did flash cards.....  they come up with BLANK...  because that is what the mental imprint was for them during drill time. 

I sat there and said.... AH-HA!!!!!

She reminded us parents that we don't test with flash cards.... we TEACH  with them.....  and for a child that is right brain dominant, we need to put the answers at the bottom of the problem, to create the mental record that 9x4 really is 36.

She applied the same technique to spelling.  She asked if any of us had a child that could do spelling words for a week, and get 100% on a test..... and then next Tuesday when you asked him how to spell a word from the week before it was completely wrong.....

I sat talking out loud to my computer speakers, waving my arms, in my kitchen, saying " YES!!  YES!!! that is MY CHILD!"

She then offered up a tool to help move words from short term memory, to long term memory, with little or no effort on the child's part. 

I was sceptical.  little or no effort on the part of the child?  Certainly she was unaware of the meltdowns, frustration and total avoidance of all things WORDS that was going on in my house.

As she talked.
A visitor straggled in.
Hunter....  the one who I had been mentally wrestling with.....
He pulled up a chair and started to listen to Dianne Craft speak..

He looked at me and said.....
"That's how I think.... I see things like that.... the way she is talking about, that's me."

Remembering it now brings tears to my eyes.
It was as if a fog had lifted, and we were both learning how to learn together.
Oh, Magnificent God who heard the cries of a frustrated mother's heart..... and brought this information right to me..... thank you, I whispered.

So together Hunter and I watched how Dianne drew spelling words.  How she used color, humor, "weird", and emotions to move words from short term memory to long term by teaching to the video recorder that is inside the head of Right Brained kids.

One of the words she had on the screen was PEOPLE.  She drew a brown earth circle for the O... and colored into it the continents and the ocean. She told a story that the world had to be big to hold all these people.   Then she moved to the next word....  MANY....  her A this time was lower case and inside it was a bunch of kids on a jungle gym or something....  really to me it looked like colored dots and squiggles.

She went on to say how to hold the cards, make the cards, to ask the child to recall the picture and the colors used for writing the word, to have them spell them both forward and backward and to do it every day for five days.

I decided that later in the day I would test Hunter on these two words and see if he could remember them.  Both of these words he would spell as Peple or Meny.

After Dianne's lecture, we eventually left to take his sister her forgotten envelope.  On the way home in the car, I asked him to spell "people".

He did.
I asked him to spell it backwards.
again, perfectly....
"Do you remember the colors and picture that she drew?"...
He did.  perfectly.

and so it went for the word "many".....

There was a Hallelujah chorus going off in my head.
I had found the thing that would make other things *click*

Thank you God for quieting my day at just the perfect time.....for answering the prayer of this mother's heart and for allowing me to learn a tool that will make learning easier for my child.

Thank you Schoolhouse Expo for bringing this wonderful speaker directly to me.

Thank you Dianne Craft for being oh so much smarter than me and so graciously sharing what you know with others....
Dianne Craft will speak again at the May Expo (16th-20th)  If you don't have a ticket yet, and my story sounds like your everyday life..........  please get a ticket and join in.  Even if she is the only speaker you listen to.....  you will learn more about how to teach your Right Brained child and make information stick!


  1. Wow!! That is so wonderful!! I have had similar experiences listening to previous Expo speakers who talked about behavior issues and organization and study skills. I love how God uses other folks (like the speakers for the Expo) to teach us things that we need to know. I'm so glad that God loves us enough to keep on teaching us what we need to know so we can teach our kids. I'm so thankful that He doesn't give up on us even when we feel like giving up sometimes. Thanks for this inspiring post!! I appreciate your sharing it!

  2. Julie, thank you for sharing such a wonderful blog post! I am praising the Lord with you for this breakthrough! He knows exactly what we need for our children. I was so encouraged by Dianne's session too. She has helped our family so many times and she is such a wealth of wisdom. Our daughter is an ADHD learner and Dianne has been such a blessing to us. Thank you so much for sharing your reflection and it is such an encouragement to hear! Many blessings to you and yours!


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