Dear Learning Success™ Coaches
by Victoria Kindle Hodson & Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis
I have been using the LearningSuccess™ Writing Program with my 9-year old son and am excited to see the learning happening in a painless, step-by-step way. I wonder if my 16-year old son could use it also. It seems slow and too easy for someone his age, but maybe that is what he needs to overcome his writing block. Do you have any experience using this program with teens?
Hope to hear from you soon, Patty
Yes, we do have experience using our writing program with teens. The LearningSuccessTM Institute’s Independent Study Program uses it as the core-writing program for all ages, so we have had a chance to see how different age groups respond to it.
The results with teens have been very positive. We see that when they go back to pre-sentence writing skill development and spend lots of time just organizing their thoughts in information maps, determining categories, and deciding how they want to sequence information, they start to relax because they don’t think of what they are doing as writing, especially if they are drawing pictures in their maps. It doesn’t resemble the sentence and paragraph writing they used to be required to do. That is what they disliked, and this writing program is not that. Then, step-by-step they move to developing the technical skills of composing a sentence and a paragraph as well as eventually adding descriptive details. In this method, however, there is none of the confusing technical language that writing programs usually use, such as theme, topic sentence, introduction, and summary. So, teens, not hearing the old language and expectations, move ahead to accomplish these skills without resistance.
We were surprised and delighted to see juniors and seniors in high school who hadn’t written for years use the program and, by the end of it, turn in long essays and reports that show grade-level understanding of and proficiency with basic writing skills.
We wrote the program specifically 1) to address the needs of teens who are discouraged and completely turned off to writing and 2) to make sure that young people, just beginning their experience of expressing themselves on paper, enjoy the process and continue to willingly develop their writing skills for years to come.
Since you already have the program, you can try it with your older son and see for yourself whether it helps him move through his resistance. Just remember in the beginning to keep you’re your focus on supporting the pre-sentence writing skills that are being developed and to leave spelling, grammar, punctuation, and handwriting corrections for later. Please let us know what happens.
I was reading the C.A.R.E.S. chapter of Discover Your Child’s Learning Style, and want to ask you about what you say about Celebrate the child you have rather than Criticize him or her. Isn’t it important for kids to know what their weaknesses are so they can work on them and become stronger people?
Thank you, Beth
Your question suggests to us that you see “constructive criticism” as an important part of raising a child who is strong and capable. And, we agree if the focus on weaknesses, or areas for growth, is infrequent and is delivered with empathy, understanding, kindness, and support for learning new skills in a fun way. However, the facts show that parents engage far more in criticizing their kids (sometimes quite harshly) than celebrating them. The ratio of positive to negative interactions in one hour in a University of Michigan study is about 10/300. And, it is our experience that it can take as many as 12 or 13 positive interactions to reestablish the connection that is lost from one harsh, critical interaction.
Celebrating the strengths of children establishes a solid foundation of safety and trust -- the number one requirement for learning to take place. Criticizing weaknesses establishes a foundation of fear and distrust and prevents learning from taking place. Celebrating strengths helps young people understand what they have to build upon for the future and shows them that they have something to contribute to the well-being of others. Criticizing weaknesses gives children the message that there is something “wrong” with them and provides nothing to build upon or to contribute to others. Celebrating strengths establishes the kind of relationship that makes it possible for parents to talk with their kids about anything-including areas for growth. Criticizing weaknesses establishes the kind of relationship with that makes it impossible to talk about anything. We hope this helps you understand Celebrating vs. Criticizing from our perspective.
My 8-year old daughter has a Performing disposition and is very high in Body Coordination talent. She can’t sit still for a minute. She refuses to do worksheets and yet she realizes that repetition is really helpful for to learn math facts. Is there something I can do that makes practice possible?
You really have your hands full. It is wonderful to hear that you want to find ways to work with your daughter. It is obvious that she needs to move to stay focused on what she is doing. It sounds as if squeezing a small ball or doodling wouldn’t work to help her maintain focus; she needs whole body movement.
There are several things you can try that have worked for other parents who have children with a Performing disposition and a Body Coordination talent. Standing at a white board to do math problems will get your daughter out of a chair and onto her feet, which can be a big help. Chairs have a deadening effect on most kids, anyway. With this in mind, you might consider replacing the chair she has with one of those large, heavy plastic balls that are used at gyms. An elementary school in the state of Washington has turned in their chairs in favor of these balls and the teacher is very happy with the results. Kids can wiggle and bounce (slightly) without making a lot of noise with their chairs, and they use up some of their excess energy. The balls contribute to better posture, and they aren’t as likely to cut off circulation to the brain the way a hard chair does. To memorize math facts she can place flash cards on the floor and bounce a ball on them as she says them out loud or place the cards on the floor where she can see them and bounce on a miniature trampoline while she says them aloud. We hope that you find these suggestions helpful!
Dedicated to the difference a new understanding can make! ■
The LearningSuccess™ Coaches, Victoria Kindle Hodson, MA and Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, MS, can be reached at the following: Victoria: Ph: 805-653-0261; firstname.lastname@example.org; · Mariaemma: Ph: 805/648-1739 or email@example.com. Their website is www.learningsuccesscoach.com