Routines Versus Routines

July 8, 2014

While teaching Robert I do rely on routines because they make the teaching easier for me and studying smoother for Robert. He does like routines too. Unfortunately, routines can also narrow the vision which in turn can lead to loosing perspective and finally to eliminating a wide area of skills from the teaching syllabus.
I have been aware of that and I have tried to resist the damaging aspects of routines, by…. introducing new routines.
Our routine for the last few weeks called for following next units from a few chosen curricula materials: Top Readers, Singapore Math, SRA Reasoning and Writing, Functional Routines, and Just for Adults Photo Cards from Linguisystems.
From time to time, I add something different like Match Up thematic puzzles (Landforms, Landmarks and so on), History Packets, the section about science topic, different reading approach, board games ( Allowance Game) and so on.
I felt pretty pleased with myself,
Until a few days ago.
As I read a short text about cleaning a bathroom from Functional Routines, Home booklet, I noticed that I could teach Robert to clean the bathroom too. Over the last two weeks we read the same unit three times -on two different levels, and yet I have not attempted to clean the bathroom with Robert. Moreover, as I skipped through the pages of that booklet, I found many more things Robert could learn and benefit greatly from such learning.
Why didn’t I practice with Robert cleaning the kitchen, or making a waffle?
Why it has been so difficult for me to try something new with Robert?
Maybe because I don’t have a model to follow or a courage to try something without seeing a model first.

In 1995 during the PCDI conference, I watched the video of a young man emptying a dishwasher by placing all the dishes and silverware where they belonged. I immediately knew, that I could practice that skill with Robert at some point. And a couple of years later Robert was doing that chore all by himself.
In the summer of 2007, Robert did laundry in a laundromat with his teacher and classmates, during his extended summer program. I have not seen Robert doing it, but encouraged by the teacher’s lead, I began working on that skill at home. Now, Robert washes all our clothes without even being asked. A full hamper motivates Robert to start the washing machine.

Today, Robert and I cleaned the bathroom together – sink, toilet, mirror.
We left the bathtub for another day. It went very smoothly.
I think that Robert can clean the sink and the counter independently from now on. The same goes for the mirror. As for the toilet, it requires more practice.

This post is not about what Robert can learn and how. It is about MY inability to set the good goals and objectives for Robert without models or encouragements coming from other sources – from a workshop, a teacher, a booklet.
I wish, I could attend many more conferences like the one I mentioned above. I wish, I could follow more leads coming from teachers on how to expand Robert’s skills. I wish, I could find more booklets like Functional Routines.
Despite everything I am doing, I am stuck in “HERE and NOW” and I need a push to move forward. Sadly, I cannot push myself too far and thus I cannot pull Robert either.

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