As of September 14, 2013

Robert and I continued doing  the exercises that prepare for finding differences between 100 (or 60) and another number in memory. We still begin with writing the subtraction problems, for instance 100-38. Then, Robert rewrites the problem replacing one subtraction with two partial subtractions: 100-30-8. With this visual support, he doesn’t have problems finding the solutions. As we continue,  I ask him not to write, but to say aloud what he is supposed to do, “100 minus 30 is 70 minus 8 is 62.”  But he rushes through without saying the whole sentence, just the final answer.  That would be great if it did not lead to more errors down the line.  As long as he is required to say the whole sentence, the errors are rare.

After two pages of such exercises Robert returns to problems involving time and money. I thought that the introductory exercises would help Robert now.  This is not the case.  The first problem on the page, expressing 3;48 as 12 minutes before 4:00,  confuses him.  But with every problem, Robert becomes better. Unfortunately, tomorrow, the whole process will be replayed.  It will take a couple of weeks, before Robert solve correctly the first task on the page.

Today, we have finished the last chapter of Real Science 2.  A relatively easy book for Robert with not many new vocabulary words, but with many topics that apply to real life.

One of the advantages of teaching such topics to your own child  is that it allows you to  support reading of the text with those points of reference your child already has but only you are aware of their existence. During reading, I can remind Robert  those experiences that relate to the text. I can also bring the concepts from the book to add  to any non-learning activity and enrich the experience. For instance the meaning of a new word “friction” was literally felt  by Robert during our driving through a  road under construction.  The phrases, “less friction” and ” more friction” were  associated with car either gliding on the new surface or bumping during the ride over an uneven pavement.

For the last few days, Robert was practicing  pronouns with the help of pages from No Glomour Grammar 1 and 2.  It was rather relaxing activity for him. The emphasis was of course on proper usage and understandable pronunciation. The last one, was as always more difficult than the first one.

For Robert, the hardest were exercises in listening comprehension also from No Glomour series.  It was easier for Robert to answer four wh questions (who, what, where and when) as they related to two sentence long texts supported by  illustrations, then to answer one “WHEN” question as it applied to one sentence with a picture.

That one sentence was longer and more complicated than the two short sentences in the previous texts. From the picture, it is easy to deduce who did what and where, but it is much harder to “see” WHEN something took place. Moreover, the vocabulary  describing the time of events is larger and more diverse than vocabulary related to subjects, actions, and places. Not just “Monday, 8:15 PM, in the evening, last year”, but also “before or after something, while doing something else”  and so on. The answer to the “when” question can be found at the beginning, at the end, and in the middle of the sentence. Robert was able to seize such words as ” on Monday”, “in the morning”  but not “in the middle of the ride” and a few similar.  Whenever the phrase related to time (to WHEN) was harder to find, I asked Robert to read the text and find it himself as that was much easier for him than attend to my speech and finding the relevant part of a sentence.

As I watched Robert’s struggles with the questions, it occurred to me that although Robert’s  listening comprehension was always delayed (He did not have one receptive word until he was four and a half years old) the gap is getting wider. It has a lot to do with the fact that the people who talk to Robert utter fewer words than they would use with young children on a similar developmental level.  In doctors offices and restaurants, the nurses and  waitresses ask Robert only one question and when he doesn’t immediately answer, they turn to me waiting for my answer.   i don’t answer.  I translate which means I pose the same question to Robert. he answers me.  Of course, if the nurse or a doctor repeats the question to Robert, chances are he answers them.  But they very rarely do that.

Robert is pretty good at following directions.  When another person tells Robert what to do, he will comply.  When the other person demands a reply, he won’t  answer. Robert’s ability to follow directions is a result of a very strong emphasis that his private school and I put on this aspect of communication. I can only speculate, that if similar emphasis was placed on Robert’s intraverbal skills, he would listen more attentively and answer the questions much better.