I needed to write a paper for my English 313 class, so I revisited a paper that I wrote a year and a half ago for MFHD 210. I scanned the old paper, so if there are errors, please ignore them. Here are the papers:
I tutored Sammi a couple of years ago. She was a delightful 7-year-old girl. Sammi didn’t turn 7 until well into her second grade year. I don’t think that she was significantly behind developmentally, but her school performance needed a boost. Although Sammi was extremely verbal, her language development seemed to lag. Even though she could decipher words phonetically, her vocabulary base was not as strong as it could have been. I also was home schooling my 11-year-old daughter, Christine. Both Sammi’s older sisters and Christine’s older sisters were grown and had moved far away from home. So this tutoring arrangement benefited both Sammi and Christine by giving them foster sisters. I had plenty of time to observe Sammi as her tutor and as my daughter’s playmate. Through these experiences I have come to recognize how important it is for everyone to experience self ownership: ownership of one’s feelings, one’s learning, one’s development, and one’s possessions.
I tutored Sammi on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Sammi was often disappointed when I picked her up from school instead of having her mother there to greet her. After a long day at school, I think she just wanted a mommy-pick-me-up. She was never hesitant to let me know that she’d rather be with her mom. I knew that it was important to validate her feelings, but also to keep the goal of tutoring intact. So it became important to develop a familiar routine. With that routine (which include walking home together, toiletry time, and a snack before we began tutoring), Sammi became comfortable with knowing what to expect. Also, because Sammi loves art and music, I would use those things as a reward after our tutoring sessions. I witnessed Sammi’s growing independence as she was soon interacting with other students after school and as she sometimes wanted to stay and play with Christine before returning home. She also developed stronger emotional self-regulation.
Like the majority of children, Sammi was extremely desirous to do well. Even though she had trouble with distraction issues, I had witnessed her working through her problems and finding happiness in a job well done. Once I unintentionally offended Sammi. In my exuberance over seeing her making new connections in math, I said, “We are going to rewire your brain. We are going to make you really smart in math.” Even though I was excited about seeing the lights come on, this statement caused her to feel some resentment and embarrassment. Sammi’s response was, “I am already smart in math.” Looking back now, I know that I wouldn’t make that mistake again. Each of us grasps concepts when he or she is ready, and Sammi’s work was paying off. I was not rewiring her brain. I was just there as a facilitator of new material. The knowledge was Sammi’s.
Sammi and Christine often drew pictures or painted together. Sammi would ask Christine to help her draw or paint a certain animal. Christine was happy to do this for Sammi. But one afternoon, when Christine, Sammi, and another friend, Rebecca, were in the back yard painting on butcher paper, Sammi took the liberty of painting on Christine’s picture. This was not a picture that Sammi had asked Christine to do for her, but Christine’s personal artwork. Sammi enjoyed Christine helping her with her artwork, and she probably didn’t think Christine would mind if she added to Christine’s picture either. But Christine did mind. She went up to her room and pouted.
After finding out why Christine was sad and talking to her about it, I also talked to Sammi. I explained to Sammi that she was not in trouble, but that next time she should ask before she paints on someone else’s picture. Sammi hid at the side of the house and looked remorseful. She had difficulty accepting adult correction, and, besides, she hadn’t meant to do anything wrong.
I was glad to see that Sammi used her quiet time alone to take ownership of what happened. Sammi quietly demonstrated understanding and empathy. While everyone was painting a new picture, Sammi painted one especially for Christine with hearts on it. She wrote the message, “I am sorry.” She was able to modify her emotions by painting the picture for Christine. Incidentally, it made Christine feel better as well.
Then the above event turned back again full swing. Another time, Christine and I were visiting Sammi’s mother, Carri, while Sammi was still in school. Carri allowed Christine to color on a pencil-by-number sheet that was part of a set she had just purchased for Sammi. Christine really enjoyed working on that sheet. The set was quite detailed.
When Sammi arrived home, she grew angry that Christine had colored on her sheet, even though Carri had said to Sammi earlier that these pictures would be fun to do with Christine. Sammi had an emotional meltdown and did not know how to respond. Because Christine enjoyed the sheet so much, and because Sammi was angry enough that she may have destroyed it, I assured Sammi that I would purchase an identical set, and then I would replace the sheet that Christine had taken from her set.
Sammi had the right to feel ownership for her color-by-number pencil set. But after a long day of school, she was not able to control the intensity of her emotional outburst. She went to her bedroom and returned to the living room angry a number of times. I recognized that Sammi just needed proper validation for her feelings. She wasn’t just intentionally misbehaving, but she felt that her property rights had been violated. On top of that, she was probably hungry, tired, and thirsty as well. She needed a big hug. Carri gave her that. Because Sammi was treated with kindness and love, she was able to calm down and know that the situation was not so enormous after all. She even asked Christine if she would help her on one of the other art sheets.
Christine saw the similarity of the above two events. I think she even sympathized with Sammi’s outburst because she had felt so sad herself when Sammi had painted on her picture. Although Christine didn’t realize at first that she was trespassing on Sammi’s art page, this is exactly how Sammi perceived it. I learned a valuable lesson on being more aware and sensitive to the property ownership of others, particularly children.
Then one day, when Christine and I went to pick Sammi up from school, we couldn’t find her anywhere. The school staff thought that she walked home with friends. But when I called Carri, she said she wasn’t there. Shortly after, Christine found her and told me where she was hiding. When I approached Sammi, she clung to the school fence and refused to let go. I called Carri to let her know that we had found Sammi and that we would be walking her to their home. Then I told Sammi that we would be walking her home and that she wouldn’t be going to our house for tutoring. Sammi was repeatedly apologetic on the way to her house, and she feared that she would be in trouble. Although I accepted Sammi’s apology, I told her that I would not be tutoring her anymore unless she asked me herself. It had to be her desire, and not just her mother’s. Carri was a bit sad when I told her that, but I knew that Sammi needed to feel ownership for her own learning. After another year and a half, Sammi did ask for me to be her tutor again. She has become more mature and more independent. But she is also willing to accept help more readily because now it is her choice.
It was an invaluable experience to tutor Sammi. The greatest lesson learned by all of us was recognizing the need for self ownership. Sammi needed to feel that she was being tutored because it was her choice. She needed to own the rights to her own progression and achievements. She needed to feel ownership of her own emotions and her own belongings. When she felt ownership, she was then able to share who she was and progress more readily I am the one who learned the most. I am still home schooling my daughter, Christine, but I am more sensitive to her need for ownership of her schoolwork. I recognize that she needs privacy time and time away from school studies. I recognize that she needs space for herself to grow and develop. No matter how good a gardener is, ultimately, he has to leave the soil alone sometimes and let the flowers sprout, grow, and blossom. It’s no different with parents or educators and children. We need to allow them to bloom and give them credit for it.
I have been trading babysitting with Sammi's mother for some time now, and I have been tutoring Sammi in mathematics and reading skills. I have observed Sammi as a delightful 6 and 7-year-old girl. I have observed her as her tutor, as my daughter's playmate, and as her caretaker. I have chosen to write about her, even though she has turned 7 now. I don't believe that she is significantly behind developmentally for her age, but she is behind In some areas of school performance, since she began second grade as a six year old, and didn't turn 7 until well Into the school year. I do believe that she is behind in language development. I think that her reading suffers, not because she cannot decipher words phonetically, but because she does not possess a strong vocabulary base. I believe that she is not entirely out of the pre-operational stage as seen in her approach to mathematics. In this paper we will address her emotional and social development, her cognitive development, and her physical development.
On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, when I pick up Sammi after school, she is often disappointed because it is not her mother that is there to greet her. She looks forward to returning to her secure base after a long day of school. There have been times that she seems dejected that her mother is not there to pick her up. These times are more noticeable after she has been off track and needs to re-establish the school attending routine. She is never hesitant to let me know that she'd rather be with her mom. Her mother is definitely still the most important caretaker in her life. Other times, she shows her growing Independence by wanting to visit with her friends before she is ready to head home with my 11-year-old daughter, Christine, and me.
She is developing stronger emotional self-regulation as time goes on. Since she has become accustomed to and comfortable with the routine of being tutored in my home two afternoons a week, she has been able to feel confident with me as a teacher and a caregiver in her life. When I pick her up from school, we talk about her day as we walk to my home. She knows that the routine is for her to use the bathroom and have a snack; and then we begin with math practice, followed by reading practice. Because she enjoys art and music, I allow her to engage in fun ways with these activities after we have had our tutoring session. My eleven year old daughter is also a mentor and a friend in Sammi's life, and this is a positive force for good for both of them.
Sammi is extremely desirous to do well. Even though she is an extremely active individual and is considered highly distracted by other adults, I have witnessed her working through her problems and finding happiness in a Job well done. She is able to concentrate for appropriate periods of time for her age. Once when she was grasping new connections in math, I made the mistake of saying, "We are going to rewire your brain. We are going to make you really smart in math." Even though I was excited about seeing the lights come on, this statement caused her to feet some resentment and embarrassment. The statement caused too much attention directed personally in her direction and she felt self-conscious. Her response came in a self-defensive remark, "I am already smart in math."
Sammi enjoys drawing and painting. Her artwork shows good progression of cognitive skills. She will often ask Christine to help her draw or paint an animal. This has been something Christine has been happy to do for her. But once when Christine, a friend Rebecca, and Sammi were outside painting on butcher paper, Sammi took the liberty of painting on Christine's picture. This was not a picture that Sammi had asked Christine to do for her, but Christine's personal artwork. I believe that this was somewhat of an egocentric thing for Sammi to do. Because Sammi likes Christine to add to her pictures, she probably also thought that Christine would like Sammi to add to hers. Christine went up to her room and pouted.
After finding out why Christine was sad and talking to her about it, I also talked to
Sammi. I explained to Sammi that she was not in trouble, but that next time she should ask before she paints on someone else's paper. She hid at the side of the house and acted very sad. Although she is usually able to conform to emotional display rules, she has a difficult time accepting adult correction or instruction at times.
Later, when everyone was again outside painting, Sammi quietly demonstrated understanding and empathy. I have seen that because her parents show her love and understanding, she is also learning to respond to others with love and understanding. While everyone was painting a new picture, Sammi painted one especially for Christine with hearts on it. She wrote the message, "I am sorry." She was able to modify her emotions by painting the picture for Christine. Incidentally, it made Christine feel better as well.
Another time, Christine and I were visiting Sammi's mother while Sammi was still in school. Carri (her mother) had been watching Christine for me that day. Carri allowed Christine to color on a pencil by number sheet that was part of a set she had just purchased for Sammi. Christine really enjoyed working on the sheet, as the set was more age appropriate for Christine.
When Sammi arrived home, she was very angry that Christine had colored on her sheet (even though Carri had said earlier that these would be fun to do with Christine). She had an emotional meltdown and did not know how to respond. Because Christine enjoyed the sheet so much, I assured Sammi that I would purchase an identical set, and then I would replace the sheet that Christine had taken from her set.
I believe that Sammi had the right to feel ownership for her color by pencil set. But after a long day of school (and she had barely returned after being off-track), she was not able to control the intensity of her emotional outburst. She went to her bedroom and came back angry a number of times. She even picked up the pencils and in frustration was ready to scribble with them on her own face. She was out of control and upset about that as well.
I recognized that she just needed proper validation for her feelings. She wasn't just
misbehaving to be bad, but she was tired after a long day at school, and she was probably hungry and thirsty as well. She needed to be hugged Instead of punished; this her mother sensed also. Because she was treated with kindness and love, she was able to calm down and know that the situation was not so enormous after all. She even asked Christine if she would help her on one of the other art sheets.
Christine saw the similarity of the above two events. I think that she sympathized with Sammi's outburst because she had felt so sad herself when Sammi had painted on her picture. Although Christine didn't realize at first that she was trespassing on Sammi's art page, this Is exactly how Sammi had perceived it.
Sammi's need to build a stronger vocabulary might stem from the fact that Carri baby sits infants and toddlers and much of the language Sammi hears at home is directed to this younger group. Her vocabulary development could be strengthened greatly through her parents reading aloud with her and discussing the things that they read. She will be able to make stronger assumptions through contextual clues and Increase her understanding of words. As her word store increases, she will be able to understand more words in her own reading, she will be able to follow written directions more Independently, and she will be able to use more words in her speaking vocabulary. Beside the cognitive growth that will come with added language development, Sammi will be better able to identify and convey her feelings.
Because Sammi has younger daycare children in her home, she has learned to communicate with the younger children in child-directed speech. She enjoys having them in her home and becoming an "older sibling" for the hours that they are there. She has had to learn to share, not only her toys, but her mother's time and attention. She has learned to love and care about these babies and toddlers, and because of her mother's loving example In taking care of them, she has learned to value them, too. I have never noticed resentment. She speaks of them with the same pride as though they were her younger siblings.
Sammi can do her second grade math, but she still relies heavily on finger counting. I am working with her to develop her understanding of even and odd numbers and of counting by various numbers, other than Just one at a time. Until she has an automated ability to add and subtract numbers, she will continue to rely on finger counting. Rehearsal of simple math facts will help, especially as she sees the connection between fact families and the transitioning back and forth between addition and subtraction. Her class is heading into simple multiplication, and she is capable of grasping the concepts, but still needs to memorize her addition facts. Until these become so automatic that they are part of her long term memory store, she will struggle. Once Sammi more fully crosses Into the concrete operational stage, these math operations will become easier for her to picture. The developmental ability of mental rotation will also come in handy.
As I noted earlier, when I was talking about emotional development, Sammi is able to appropriately adapt her attention when it is time for us to work on her math and reading skills. It does become apparent though when we have crossed the time frame that is productive. At some point her ability to stay focused is diminished and her ability to answer questions appropriately or read correctly Is proportionately diminished. Also, Sammi needs adult supervision In order for her to keep on task. She will become more self-regulating as she becomes older and as she learns more problem solving skills, and as she reaches a new zone of proximal development.
When I have read with Sammi, I have noticed that she relies heavily on the pictures to follow the story. Speaking about the emotions that the pictures convey is Important to Sammi. The pictures are an important part of her growing understanding of the world and her cognitive development. Therefore, the pictures, as well as the story Itself, present a basis for much communication that will also enhance Sammi's vocabulary development.
Christine and Sammi engage in make-believe play with different stuffed animals and dolls. Even though this is a skill that develops at a young age, the Interplay becomes increasingly advanced. They act out scenes from movies and add new flourish. Because Sammi interacts with Christine this way, she also becomes the recipient of a scaffolding adventure, and her make-believe and her vocabulary development are enhanced in this way.
Sammi is a physically healthy child. She is tall and slender. This is partly due to genetics, because her parents are also tall and slender. But her mother is actively making sure that Sammi eats a variety of healthful food.
Sammi is an active child by nature. She loves to walk and run and be outdoors. There are many play areas in her own back yard to support her physical interests. There is a trampoline for her to jump on. She is daring and adventurous and can do flips on the trampoline. There are also kitchen play areas and different Little Tyke toys that Sammi can explore with alone outside and help the daycare children with as well.
Sammi has been able to ride a two-wheel bike for over 2 years. She can hop, skip, and jump. Her balance and coordination are more than adequate for her age. Her mother even tells me that she could ice skate the first time she tried. Her gross motor skills are wonderful.
Sammi finds writing for school work tedious, and she struggles to make her writing neat and legible, So her fine motor skills lag some behind her gross motor skills. But this is normal. Yet Sammi loves to write her own creative stories, and she loves to paint and draw. She demonstrates better skills when involved in an activity of her choosing.
I would recommend that Sammi's parents support her in her growing abilities and interests. I would recommend that they have many art and writing supplies, and that they help her in journal keeping and creative writing. I would recommend that Sammi be allowed to help cook and measure in the kitchen, so that she can make more connections with addition and fractions. I would recommend that her parents validate all her talents and abilities. But more especially I would recommend that her parents praise her in all of her efforts and encourage her in her schoolwork and her individual pursuits. Her active play time will be the best means to promote growth in all areas.
I have recommended that her mother read to her more often, and not just listen to Sammi's reading. When they do read together, there should be turn taking. Sammi's minor mistakes should not be corrected, unless they harm the integrity of the message or when she is struggling with an unfamiliar word. It is more Important to let her feel the flow of the story and to feel confidence in her growing ability to read independently. It is Important that Sammi be allowed to choose books that are interesting to her. Audio tapes and video sing-a-longs will also provide a means for Sammi to work more independently at times.
As Sammi's schemata and vocabulary develop further, she will find it easier to decode the written words. Therefore, I would recommend that Sammi's parents take time to discuss the stories they read (including the artwork) and the movies they watch with Sammi. I would also recommend that they continue to take her on outings and fieldtrips and actively discuss the things in which they participate. It would also help for Sammi to make some of her important adventures part of her memory store through journal writing. Her parents can help with this through question prompts, or by allowing her to dictate those things she wants recorded, or by allowing her to record her memories on a tape recorder.
Sammi Is blessed to have wonderfully supportive parents. I feel blessed to be involved In her life, and to be an adult that she can turn to for help and understanding. Because Sammi is being tutored, she is having some needed one on one time during this stage in her life. Sammi has grown much in every area discussed since the beginning of this school year. She has grown in her abilities to focus on tasks at hand. She has grown In her overall comprehension. She has grown in her abilities to communicate and get along with others. And she has grown in her fine motor and gross motor skills. Sammi is one wonderful child.