Is My Child Paying Attention?

     My house was VERY busy.  Three children to school, a husband working swing shifts, piano lessons, 4 therapy appointments per week, a mother-in-law living in the back of the house, church 3 times a week, a side business, were just part of the bustling household.

     I decided the only way to survive was to purchase a DVD program to ensure that my children were getting full lessons on fractions, Lewis and Clark, and complete dissection  instructions from that stinking frog. 

     My firstborn could be trusted to diligently do her schoolwork in a room alone, since her conscience worked overtime.  The middle child, well, not so much!  After finding rubberized noses, tongues, and ears hanging from his popcorn ceiling, I decided he had better do his DVD schooling in the living room.

     One day I passed by the living room with my arms full of folded laundry, only to discover he was juggling balls he had purchased from an excursion to Tweetsie Railroad.  The DVD teacher was waxing eloquently in a 4th grade Science lesson, while he was learning to juggle.

     Well, I was determined to handle the situation, reverting back to my days of teaching in a private school where I was referred to as the “drill sergeant” on more than one occasion. I quickly turned off the TV, and required him to hand the balls to me, while giving me a summary of what the teacher had been discussing.  Remarkably, he, too waxed eloquently, for when I reviewed the latest part of the lesson with him to prove he was not paying attention, he had not missed a single point.  I proceeded to hand the juggling balls back, told him to keep juggling, and kept the lesson rolling for him.

Since that experience, I have attended seminars, given by the “experts”, that explained to me that there are plenty of boys (and girls, for that matter) out there who need something in their hands to pay attention and absorb information.  As a matter of fact, if I have company for a meal, I cannot use napkin rings, because while listening  or talking to the guests, there is a much older person, stacking, rolling and flipping the rings, but not missing a bit of the content of the conversation.  Like father, like son. We learn in different ways, even a drill sergeant cannot change that.

Susan Blackwell has homeschooled her 3 children for 18 years, one of which has Special Needs.  She has a BS in Secondary Education, has taught in a Christian school and has directed Special Needs Parents in curricula counseling, as well as providing practical helps in the areas of accomodations, etc. Susan has been testing homeschoolers individually and in group settings for more than 20 years.

Feel free to contact Susan Blackwell by calling 803-794-6908 or visiting her website

1 Comment on “Is My Child Paying Attention?

  1. Susan you have no idea how much I needed that story you shared. I need the help. I have two teens in high school with iep’s. They are smart and want to learn but I’m OCD or I think so. I never know how to gage my kids learning. Am I too rigid or too lean. Am I failing them and their future? My son has autism (high functioning) but he is a sponge so I don’t understand how his reading scores (IL state tests) did not improve after 2 yrs in 1 of the top 10 schools in the state. I don’t think it’s fair for my kids to be labeled by special ed on their diploma. They work harder to achieve what comes easier for most. Can you help me please!

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