Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Turning five this November, Rebecca is our youngest kindergartner ever. She had some formal schooling last year, but not as much as she would have liked. :-)

This year she's thrilled to have her own checklist, with an array of subjects: phonics, math, Bible, piano, handwriting, memorization, and other stories. We're learning together about persevering with learning whether in an eager or reluctant mood.Rebecca is an orderly child. It can take her a long time to make her bed or tidy her kitchen area, not because she is dilly-dallying, but because she is so, um, particular about how everything should be arranged.

Sometimes her orderliness veers into perfectionism and begins to cause trouble. During school this is most obvious when we work on Bible stories together. Here's our routine: Mom or Dad reads a Bible story aloud. Becca retells it as the tale is typed. She then illustrates the printout.

I have had my children draw their own pictures, sometimes helping brainstorm (for the Garden of Eden: an apple, the snake, Adam and Eve, the snake in the tree, Eve with the apple, etc.). I might also coach the drawing, make a sample (a simple ark, maybe) to copy, or even draw part of the illustration for a frustrated child. Their effort and creative work have always been more important to me than the actual product.

That hasn't been working with Rebecca. She started out well enough, but even on Day One was frustrated that her drawing didn't match her vision. The Creation picture below (Saranac Lake, our bank, and Tommy's Rock) was NOT her first try.

Each day became more of an ordeal than the last. Here are a few more "coached" drawings:Next came parental tracing or drawing. I outlined Joseph in his coat of many colors. Rebecca colored it in and drew his head and face. I traced the fat cow of Pharaoh's dream and then semi-traced the skinny cow.Eventually I began finding pictures online. Now I use Google Images to preview designs (search for coloring pages, like "Red Sea coloring page" to find simple choices) and copy them onto the story even before I type it up.This technique is a winner. Becca is no longer anxious about her drawing, which makes her more willing to work on the story itself. Sometimes she even helps pick the design; like me, she shies away from the silly (babyish) versions.My older children might tell you I've gotten soft. I will admit to mellowing, but I think that for Rebecca at least, this solution is the best for now. She can think about the story as she colors rather than obsessing about executing a drawing that meets her standards.

Let's remember, too, that way back when the first children were retelling the Bible, our internet connection was that amazingly slow dial-up, not really conducive to googling!

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