Gavin Progress Report – Snowboard Edition

Sunday, Feb 15th 2015

Since last month Gavin and I have been on a journey around his academic life, ability to work and development of FOCUS. This recent jag started a month ago when his teachers sat me down to highlight the problems he was exhibiting in school, as described in “Dear Teacher from Gavin” on Jan 23rd.

Here he is at the time sharing his favorite subject in the Classroom News (see final comment below):

"What all kids like, P-L-A-Y"

“Recess… what every kid likes; P-L-A-Y.”


(See what he did there, kissing up with the spelling?  No one denies he’s *smart.*  “Smart@$$” perhaps!)  Here he is resisting my efforts (with some classic stages of grief) when I first started introducing compensatory schoolwork at home:

"O come ON!"



I’m like, at least he’s *writing!*

get me a toy


And negotiating!

Thus began our voyage into major schoolwork at home.  From Montessori I got the concept of “Natural Consequences,” such as, “Work you don’t do in class, you will do at home.”

Gavin at Work

Gavin at Work


This corner of our crafts table has become his defacto study area, complete with his own box of tools, including STOP WATCH, which has been very useful in measuring the passage of time and encouraging FOCUS.


Although the dining room table also does nicely


It’s so beautiful to bear witness to such focus in the Sweet Spot; not easily achieved.  It helps to have some incentives, including earning chits towards a major GOAL:

Gavin's Goal

Gavin’s Goal


He earns a marble towards his “Goal Jar” for good deeds, focused sessions, moments of particularly cooperative attitude, generosity towards his sister, tasks completed, insights utilized etc. etc.   Always in relation to his sense of SELF-satisfaction however, so that we are INTRINSICALLY motivated as well, not just externally.

Gavin's Marble Jar

Gavin’s Goal Jar


In addition to TONS of math worksheets, he’s started producing some relatively uninhibited writing as well (esp. compared with a couple months ago).  For example:

“BOOK REPORT by Gavin.  This story is about a girl looking for her younger brother and when she finds him he’s home.  He set out before her and got back before her to.  Also her little brother learned that everyone cooks rice, and she was to full to eat.  Because she tried everybody’s dinner.  The End.”

Book Report on "Everyone Cooks Rice"

Book Report on “Everyone Cooks Rice”

We’re no teachers but this is certainly more than my husband or I were doing in First Grade.

Meanwhile, his executive functioning, making work choices in class and following through is all… still in progress.  When I recently found out that he had spent most of his work time sprawled out on the carpet “trying to decide” what work to pick… we invented a tool for him to use:

Work Choice Cube

Work Choice Cube

We made a this “dice” cube out of cardboard (filled with crumpled paper and dry beans), on which Gavin put six possibilities of work choices for class.  Although his teachers were very impressed on Friday, he hasn’t actually gotten to use it yet due to other projects, countless snow days this year and -now- February Break.  The best part to me was imparting the concept that; “It will only work when you use it with the commitment to accept whatever choice it presents, whether you *feel* like it or not.”  He seemed to get it, and even “practiced” accepting a choice in spite of it not being a favorite.  And he even explained to his teacher one of my favorite values I originally acquired at Theatre School:  “It doesn’t matter *what* you choose so much as that you DO!”

Other parts of basic (“executive”) functioning have come more sharply into focus as well.  Having a stuffy nose or a backed up system do not help at all, and I’ll spare you the details but this guy can be VERY productive in the … congestion department.   Here he is modeling his new tool the other night post neti-pot, giant poop AND bath:

Feeling like a million bucks

Feeling like a million bucks

(Even if upstaged by the cuteness of Daddy on the floor coloring with ClaraJane.)

Speaking of whom, some of this work-ethic in the environment is naturally rubbing off on Baby Sister:

Kids at Work

Kids at Work

Even if not perhaps the ethic of wearing CLOTHES.

Here they are yesterday really busting it out over some Valentines for all the friends in the building:

Like Brother like Sister

Like Brother like Sister

(Not an easy feat when your neighbors are all named like Arrian, Ayyian, Arham, Afsheen, Simra, Mithila, Makida, Zacharais, Genesis, Abigail, Hiranuy, Joseph, Tenzan, Tenzan and Tenzan.)  Even grandma was impressed:

Beloved Bubble Wow

Our Beloved Bubble Wow

So today I am so pleased to share that -as shown above- Gavin FILLED his Goal Jar, exactly upon the completion of the report about this book he’s been dabbling in since Christmas:

2015-02-15 15.40.43

Frank Einstein Book Report

“Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor.  This story is about two kids that are trying to win a science festival with a robot that can teach itself and help with any sort of contrapshin you could dream of but T. Edison there enemy is in there way!  My  favorite part is when Frank and Watson meet Mr. Chimp.”

Sounds like a great read

Sounds like a great read

Pardon while I #swoon!  Not bad for the beginning of February break (plus three math sheets today too).   Looking forward to bringing lots more work to the teachers next week, although his efforts so far have not gone unnoticed:

Proud of you Gavin

Proud of Gavin


Although I tend to use the word “pride” with trepidation, I am proud of him too.  I am proud of the ability he is developing to accept the work in stride, utilize some of the guidance he gets and mostly just fricking DOING it.  Per usual I envy my kids, and wish *I*  had had someone in my life to teach me, “How about just get the most boring annoying part out of the way, to get started?”  To wit:  writing your NAME and the DATE on the top of the paper!  (Not to mention preparing your work space with neatness and organization of materials; sheesh.)

But anyway, at last the anticipated moment CAME.  Today when he finished “earning” his goal, I was ready and able to GIVE it to him.  (It’s a simple $30 beginner snowboard we discovered a few weeks ago).

Gavin's New Snowboard

Gavin’s New Snowboard

And to top it all off, we got to suit up *immediately,* and go collect his *favorite* friend to for a playdate in the snow!

Color us happy.  And if you read this post, THANK you for indulging me the pleasure to share.  To be sure, there is more to come.






About circuskitchen

performing artist, mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece... just a regular extraordinary person
This entry was posted in childhood, domestic life, education, faith, family, forgiveness, health, love, mental health, parenthood, patience, work and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Gavin Progress Report – Snowboard Edition

  1. Baba/Bubble Wow says:

    A+ in Parenting! A+ in Being a Child! A+ in Big Brothering, and Friending, and being a Rewarding Child to your Hard-Working Parents and Hard-Working Teachers! What we used to call “study habits” that you are instilling will be passed on to the next generation — your Grandchildren!
    A+ in Teacher-Parent Communication! And Goal-Directed Behavior! Thank you to Gavin and ClaraJane for all your Affectionate Grandchild-ing to your appreciative grandmother! A great lesson to all of us from the less-enlightened past that it’s not enough to herd the child into his room and shut the door with the command to “Study!” What a Reward to see the level of work a motivated First-Grader is capable of. And the insight that unstopping the physical flow can help free up the intellectual flow. And kudos to Paul for coloring with ClaraJane! Gavin, I loved your performance of “You Are My Sunshine”! I loved “Mad-Libs Jr” (and the “hairy meatloaf)!) And congratulations on earning a SKATEBOARD!

  2. Baba/Bubble Wow says:

    IMHO this experience also reveals the pitfalls of Too Much Choice Too Soon. What a burden on a young child — the responsibility for making Best Life Choices before he is mature enough to handle it. For a few years shouldn’t a kid be able to rely on his guardians to make Best Choices for him? e.g. Gavin was paralyzed by Works Choice and punted — Recess! What do you expect of an independent-thinking child who has not become enslaved to Pleasing His Teachers? Montessori is great in many ways but this is clearly a weakness.

  3. Pingback: Gavin’s Home School – Writing Edition | circuskitchen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s