As I have mentioned before, The Rustic Knight and I have decided to home school. Kit is now four. We have also decided to forego traditional Preschool for various reasons. We have no schedule in place for 'school', but have implemented learning opportunities throughout our days, even if only for 5-10 minutes at a time.
About three weeks ago, we were nearing bedtime when Kit was having a hard time listening to me. Better said, his attention span in remembering to listen to what I just said lasted for what appeared to be mere seconds. He found himself in a time out due to this. We have a semi-foyer, covered in the most hideous blue wallpaper, lovingly referred to as the blue room; though it isn't a true room: there is a five foot wide opening from floor to ceiling, framed out and dressed with molding. Kit was to sit in the corner.
Kit sat, though he did not remain contained in one spot. He was loud, making all sorts of noises, and he kept spinning on his bottom, kicking his legs around, going a little crazy with energy. Not the point of a time out; and certainly not listening to his mother. So, I decided to turn this timeout into a focus session...
Upon my request, Kit walked over and stood before me. I asked him to look at me (eye contact necessary, focus Kit), and to take a deep breath (a wonderful way to calm one down). Then I asked him to take another deep breath. He did this. It was cute to watch because he over exaggerates his efforts. I asked him to calm down, relax, and to slow down. Once he is done spazzing out, we work on counting to 20.
We did this over and over and over again. He would get frustrated, distracted, but I explained to him that he could not play until he counted to 20 correctly. He has a problem with confusing the numbers 14, 15, 16, varying their order. I believe he knows how to count to 20, but because of his energy and struggle in taking his time, gets confused. How many times have you made mistakes because you were trying to move too fast? I know I have to remind myself "It's not a race. Quality is more important than time spent." Well, the same is true for a 3 going on 4 year old.
I think Kit gets his manic need for speed from me. I have learned behaviors that are not necessarily conducive to many things I partake in, now in this life. I don't have to be super-fast at everything I do. Most things don't warrant that. But, it's a mentality that is hard to shake, and I get frustrated. I think Kit picks up on this and thus acts similarly. I am actively trying to instill an inner peace within my child's heart now, hoping to help aid in his ability to not let perfectionism, or expectations dictate his methods.
His time out turned into a counting lesson. We had moments of frustration (not listening) and moments of laughter (he is so cute when he asks, "What’s next?" and the look on his face is irresistible!). Ultimately, about 15 minutes later, Kit had made it through the numbers, 1-20, perfectly! This resulted in a calmer child playing with his toys. He was less manic. He became more involved in playing with his toys, and less running and yelling.
What started out as a time out became a wonderful moment of learning to channel spirited energy into productive time spent. We counted, and Kit was able to play calmly. I am not saying that crazy, running, hyper play is bad. All I am saying is there is a time and a place for it.
I think what I have learned most the past few months, in regards to learning opportunities for Kit, is that there is no right or wrong in the avenue or tool that cannot be used to our advantage to teach Kit something new and wonderful. We use life as a class room.
I also see benefits for me here, as well. While Kit is learning how to harness his energy, and focus his efforts, I am learning how to work with him, versus allowing my self to get frustrated and mad. Patience was a huge factor here, and so was a sense of humor. Kit is four. There is a learning curve for both of us. How I react to his reactions needs to be considered. There is no benefit from me becoming negative because he hasn't learned how to do certain things, or do them in a certain way.
And again, he is four. His attention span is non existent at times -- Because he is four. I am almost thirty one and have had many years to hone the skills necessary to listen, focus, and follow through. I cannot expect my child to behave the way I would. It is my job as his parent to find an avenue of teaching that directly correlates with who Kit is, while setting an example in the actions I take. It is my job to encourage and foster the person he is to be, based on God's needs.
I pray that God helps me to do this, inviting Him in to raise His child, through the means of me. And I have complete faith that He will.