Broken Down

I experienced a lot of difficulties lately writing this blog.  Yes, I am still teaching Robert at least 6 days a week, but I feel  unable to write about it.    Why?  No clear, simple answer. But…

I work on Robert’s language.  Yes, I do feel lost without specialist’s instruction.  I feel overwhelmed by my son’s  huge needs. I know, my English pronunciation  is incorrect, as I learned English myself when I was 32 years old without the help of any English teacher.  But I go on, because nobody else is.

Just yesterday we did:

1. The unit 14 from Problem Solving Activities.  (Great Ideas for Teaching, Inc.) Robert looked at the picture.  With some prompting he described the situation/problem and then assessed the  four possible solutions to the problem as either, good, OK or bad.  It was an exercise in finding proper words to express what he saw and thought.

2. Exercises to practice sound “f” from Speech Improvement Reproducible Masters. (Great Ideas for Teaching) Because of Robert’s  huge issues with pronunciation, clarity, and lengths of sounds such exercises usually help prepare him for saying a few syllables utterances.  Robert did not have a problem with the “f” sound but with cutting the last consonant in each CVC word and with shortening the long vowel in cv words.

3.  We did two stories from Fold and Say Auditory & Story Comprehension. (Super Duper Publication). After Robert listened to me reading him four sentences, he was supposed to answer three simple questions.  It was very hard for him.  It was easier when he read the story himself and then answered questions in writing.  Listening comprehension is still a big problem, as Robert’s understanding of verbal directions is mostly supported by the known environment.  Listening to the story is sort of abstract.

4. Robert followed verbal directions from Listening and Processing Auditory Directions. (Great Ideas for Teaching). He had to circle, color, or underline parts of one of the four pictures.  We did that five and four years ago.  After a long break, Robert needed some practice, but yesterday he was 100% correct.

5. We worked on a couple of pages from Teaching the Language of Time (Circuit Publication). They were devoted to the fact that some activities take place at the same time. ( While some people travel in the plane, children on the ground look up and observe the airplane.)

6. Robert practiced asking questions with the help of Teaching Kids of All Ages to Ask Questions.(Circuit Publication)  Robert already practiced with me asking the same questions orally.  He twice wrote them down on paper, pretending to ask one of his classmates.  Yesterday, we just practiced again asking his classmate the same  questions (What do you like to eat?  What do you like to drink?  where do you like to go on vacation? and so on).  Later, I suggested to Robert to ask his sister the same questions (one at a time).  So we made three trips to her room and Robert asked Amanda.  At first, he was a little uneasy, but after the third trip and question about vacation, he got it!  He was happy to ask and to get an answer. He was happy mainly, that she understood him and promptly answered.

7.To finish with an easy task I returned to No Glamour Sentence Structure (LinguiSystems). We repeated the first unit (we had already went through the book at least once). Robert quickly and without error said 20 sentences, each based on two pictures representing a subject and a predicate.  “The boy is running.”

Robert needs language as a mode of understanding the world around.  He needs to work on pronunciation, as he is still not understood. He needs language  as a tool for thinking.  He needs language as a communication tool.

When I study with Robert and see how VERY,VERY hard he works,  how dedicated he is to his speech improvement, how important it is for him, I feel only great powerful emotions.  I am reinforced or rewarded greatly for my work.

But when I try to write about  our work, our  small stumbles, or surprised progress, I am getting bitter.  As I write many other thoughts come to hunt me and poison me.  I realize how lonely we both are:  Robert and I.  How little he learns at school.  I know how much more Robert could learn with the help of his teacher, speech therapist, and his schoolmates if any of the things we work together were addressed in a small, vocal group. I know, and I become angry.  I tried to suppress my anger, and keep it at bay, but I am not able to do that without hurting myself.  I

I tried so hard to avoid criticism of the school, but as I write, I realize over and over that those skills would be much better addressed if the teaching was done at school, by trained professionals and not by a mother who not only does not have any training in teaching language but who, moreover,  speaks with a foreign accent. How much more would Robert learn and what a big difference that could be for his future.

That is why I am unable to write.

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  1. Jean

     /  March 14, 2013

    Maybe there is a way to create a small “group” separate from school, as your hospitality is great, and perhaps our two sons and a few others can create a supportive learning group.

    • Jean, almost 9 years ago I looked for possible “friends” for Robert on one of the local parents’ list. I suggested meeting in my home on one of the Fridays nights (It could be any other night) just to hang out, for as long as the child and the parent feel comfortable – 10 min to three hours. Only one parent responded with “maybe” and then canceled. Maria


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