Putting on the educator hat


Well, it’s well into the new year, and as usual, I’m doing a pretty good imitation of a hamster in its wheel.  My newest challenge isn’t photography at all – it’s trying to teach my 4.5 year-old what every first grader needs to know.

Yes, he’s 4.5.  Cognitively, he’s a good bit higher in some things.  Which makes my job sooooo much more fun!

Corbin has Sensory Processing Disorder, and what currently looks like ADHD.  The jury’s still out on that one since he’s too young to formally diagnose.  SPD is a big enough problem, and when you add that to his behavioral issues he does not function in a traditional educational setting at all.  Enter: teacher mommy.   On top of everything else I’m taking on the mind-boggling challenge of teaching my kid in a format that he can work with.

His fine motor skills are nil because of his SPD, and he has the attention span of a gnat.  He has major impulse control issues – in Corbin’s world, it’s “I think, therefore I do.”

Despite all that, he’s bright, inquisitive, and scarily smart.  Hence a conversation the other day at the dinner table:

Corbin: “mommy, what are those things in your dinner?”

Me: “oh, the bones in the ribs?

Corbin: “yeah, what are those for?”

Me: brief explanation of rib cage, what it protects, and what’s in his.

Corbin: “so, what does my heart do?

Me: brief explanation of heart pumping oxygen around his body.

Corbin: “OK. That makes a lot of sense.”

While are a lot of resources out on the internet for teachers and parents, most of those involve a lot of writing, repetition, and forgive the phrase, dumbed-down information.  I can’t just pop onto the web and print out a project for him to do.  Nope, I have to reinvent the wheel.

And right now I’m just a few steps ahead of him.  I’m doing projects on things every kindergartner needs to know (My neighborhood, my country, etc) and things that he asks for, like space shuttles, earthworms, and tornadoes, to name a few.

I start with the subject, jot down the key points I want him to learn, and then figure out a way to help him learn with hands-on, active, low writing activities.  For oceans we tasted salt water and made an ocean in a bottle. We colored in a map of the oceans and learned about who lives in it and the different zones, as well as learning about Boyan Slat and what the kid inventor is trying to do about ocean garbage.  If you’re an educator reading this, you’re probably thinking “well, duh!”  I’m not an educator.  Not by trade, learning, or inclination.

So, again, my work is put on hold.  It’s not OK, but it’s necessary.  And for all you wonderful people posting pictures and kid-friendly graphics on the internet, you have my heartfelt thanks.  I didn’t have to re-make the space shuttle cycle thanks to you guys!