Cursive (Want To Try It?)

Winging It

I don’t think John has ever practiced cursive writing.

Oh dear God, we struggle enough with printing.

Until one day, John just decided to try this (instead of printing), with no prompting by Mom.

He said, “It says John’s List”.

Oh, you should have seen his face!

Surely many days of (monotonous) practice are ahead of us.

But for today, John has chosen to try cursive, heading up his loved/hated “list” we make daily.

Also (second photo), it doesn’t look like much, but here is something John lostCursive

(by making poor choices in school and at piano lessons).

By the time he got to “DropBox”, he smiled a huge one and said, “Box is in cursive”.

Because he wanted to.

What do our kids all want to do?

I suggest we use that desire shamelessly!

We may start out with extrinsic motivation.

(Extrinsic = coming from someone else.  Intrinsic = coming from inside the child.)Cursive1

Whatever you do with your child, let them take the lead.

And always look for the ways to make it their idea.

Before you know it, you both could  be up to your neck in intrinsic motivation and self-directed learning.

Peace be with us,


Paying Attention to Boundaries

Stretching to Reach Their Goal(s)

It took John’s friend Hunter to show us what this little finger-hold was for.

It has been in that door molding for more than one year.

Without his paying attention to it.

Now he uses it all the time.

Because by using that tool, he can close the door independently.

Without that finger-hold, he can’t.

And now let’s try to use that idea toward boundaries in self-directed learning.

No telling what it could be in your world, but for us, it was math homework.

And it started out so self-directed.

Joyous, in fact.

Then about halfway, he decided Mom wasn’t really going to hold her boundaries, and he went to the dark side.

In the blink of an eye, he was testing boundaries in every way possible.

And loudly.

We eventually ended up in the bathroom, with the vent fan on and the door shut.

We were visiting at my sister’s house some time ago, and I was mortified.

John lost his favorite thing (Mom’s phone), and lost it for the entire day.

I held my ground and re-directed him or ignored him every time he tried to re-negotiate.

He was fully aware.

He could tell me why he lost my phone.

Holding your parent boundaries may test you to the point of nearly “losing it”.

But it doesn’t mean holding those boundaries isn’t working.

As one of my mom friends says, “I love you too much to argue with you.”

So I didn’t.

Set your boundaries in a time of calm.  Make sure they understand.

Then, when the testing comes (and we know that it will), hold your ground.

Pay attention to the necessity of boundaries.

So your child can learn independently.

Learn self-awareness and self-regulation.

Try this with your kiddos?

Peace be with us,


Training For School Bus Independence By Backward Chaining

With A Backward Glance (Maybe)

Next year is 5th grade at a new (bigger, faster-paced) intermediate school.

So, we are building into our ARD (Admission, Review, Dismissal)

that he is riding the big kid bus.

We are practicing now, and here are some photos of how that looks.

It’s called Backward Chaining by occupational therapists, and Backward Design by educators.

You start with the last step and practice until your child masters it.

And then you add the previous step and include it to the process.

Keep this up, each time adding the previous step to the entire flow.

Soon, you will be at the beginning step and your child can do it all.

So, back to the bus independence:  Mom does less and less.  John does more and more.

Some days, when John is lollygagging, I have laid his stuff on the ground and walked away.

Toward school.  With neighbors and friends watching me.

I smile and wait out of sight.

Until John catches up.

I fade my prompt at every opportunity.

Once he gets ahead of me, I stay out of eye-sight as he rides on to school.

As our days of training have progressed,

sometimes he looks back,

sometimes not.

Twice now he has caught me peeking after him.

He was laughing and so was I at Mom busted.

Once he is at school, I do follow the sidewalk to the end, and wave at the crossing guard.

Don’t want the school thinking I am irresponsible : )

He eventually went by himself:  from the car, through the crossing guard, into school.

So try backward chaining (where we start with mastery of the last thing,

working our way backward toward mastery of the first thing),

fade from helping at each step after getting out the front door.

Also, I have been told to get John an assigned seat on the bus in the front row(s).

As he is able to master the sensory environment,

the new everything of the school,

and learn what to absorb (and what to NOT absorb) of the bus behaviors of peers,

then we can move toward a longer tether.

For now, one step at a time.

Backward chaining toward independence

and handling natural consequences of life.

Maybe this will be useful in your child’s life forward.

Peace be with us,