Really looking forward to seeing all you guys next month. The boys are doing well. Eli has his Advanced Learning exams in the next month, not that it will mean much. We already decided he won’t switch schools even if he qualifies but it will allow for some additional attention in the school he attends now. We mostly wanted to get an idea of how he’s doing in relation to his peers so we can accommodate.
Ben is getting way better at puzzles. Here’s his most recent learning story from school:
Ben Finishes the Puzzle
A learning story by Ben Smith and Teacher Mollie
It was morning in the Mountain Room and circle time had just come to an end. The teachers told the children what was on the tables for morning activities; everyone ran off to pick.
Ben stood up at circle and looked around. His usual friends he played with were not there that day. Ben walked over to the square yellow table and sat down next to his other friend, Reegan.
“What is this?” Ben asked Reegan.
“It’s a kind of a number puzzle,” Reegan told him.
“Could I help? I am good at puzzles,” Ben asked
Reegan said, “Sure.”
Ben grabbed a couple of the pieces and started helping. There were already a couple pieces matched together. Reegan put the next on. Ben then put his piece on and then noticed Reegan’s piece was on wrong,
“Reegan, this has to be moved,” Ben told him. Ben then moved the piece around and added his. Reegan grabbed some more pieces and Ben noticed.
“That is a lot of pieces, Reegan! I need some. Give me them!” Ben demanded.
Reegan looked at Ben and said “I have them.”
Ben then took a deep breath and said, “Please, Reegan, can I have a couple?”
Reegan smiled and said, “okay!”
Ben smiled back and said, “Thanks.”
After a couple minutes, they both finished the puzzle. Reegan stood up and went to play somewhere else.
Ben looked around and then back at the puzzle, “I am now going to do it myself.” He took it all a part and started off from the beginning.
“I know it starts with one and then two,” he said out loud as he found the pieces that made the number one and two. He then looked at the pieces, “Teacher Mollie, I can’t find the other ones,” he made a sad noise and then crossed his arms. I then showed him how to set up the puzzle box to see what the picture looked like.
Ben relaxed and put his arms down and then looked at the box.
“Oh, I see! The three is right there,” he then picked out the ones he needed.
Ben continued to work with the box propped up and finding pieces that he needed.
Ben then finished the first row and went on to the next number on the bottom. As he put the piece on the bottom, the top broke. He fixed the top but then the bottom piece fell off. He sighed loudly.
“This is too hard,” he yelled.
Ben crossed his arms and put his head down. After a couple seconds, he looked up.
He looked at his hands and then proceeded to hold one side with one hand and put the piece back on with his other. It worked. He continued to put the other pieces on. Throughout the process, the puzzle would come undone with the slightest movement. Ben continued trying his technique out by holding one side down, while he fixed the other.
As Ben got closer to finishing it, he had a smile on his face. He then found the last piece and put it on.
He laughed as the piece snapped in. He looked the box and at the puzzle and smiled. “It looks like the box. I finished it!” he said.
What does this mean:
Ben, I loved watching you with this activity! It was great to watch you with a friend and then try it by yourself.
Ben, a lot of times you can get frustrated in both situations. Maybe a friend is not listening to you, or you need some help when no one is around. Either way, you can get mad or sad and then forget about the activity.
In this story, you showed us how you took the time to work with Reegan and with yourself. The first part of the story, you and Reegan worked together to make the puzzle. You showed that you could take turns and even share the pieces. In one part of the story, you demanded pieces from Reegan. You knew that is was not fair for him to have all the pieces, and you expressed that. Reegan also chose to not give them to you. I noticed you had two choices at that moment. You could keep demanding and getting angrier at him, or ask him more kindly. Ben, you chose to calm down and ask him in a different way; Reegan then gave you some of the pieces.
The second part of the story Ben is how you dealt with your own frustrations. You wanted to do the puzzle yourself! It can be so self-rewarding to try at something yourself and complete it. There were a couple times in the story that you got angry. I could tell by your sighs and grunts that it may have felt like a lot of work. Ben, you worked through it though. You proved to yourself that you could figure out the problem and find ways to work around it. That is amazing! A lot of people have an easy time getting angry at a problem and not wanting to try new ways to fix it. You, on the other hand, asked me for help and liked my advice. You also knew that that you could help yourself if the puzzle was falling apart. I am very proud of you, Ben.
I think this story showed the two sides of Ben. His curious and exploration side and his frustration, self-doubt side.
Ben tends to get overwhelmed easily when something is not working out. In this story, it showed when Reegan would not share the pieces, and then when the puzzle was falling apart. Ben allowed himself to get frustrated but then used strategies to fix the issues he was having. He chose to use kinder words with Reegan, and then find a solution to the puzzle not staying together.
I think with this story; Ben will only become more and more confident in the things his friends can do and what he can do himself. Moving towards the future, he will hopefully get less frustrated when things are not working and then start to think of people or objects that can help.
In the classroom, we like to do a lot of team building activities. I hope for Ben to be a part of these activities. That way he has more opportunities to interact and understand how friends can help one another. He also will pick up how to ask nicely for something from his friends.
We can also start exploring new activities, projects, and skills to help Ben work on himself. He can have those moments to try new things and have the help around him when he needs and asks for it. I think Ben is a bright kid and knows what he wants. When it does not happen the exact way, that is when it can be overwhelming for him. With practice and patience, Ben will understand how he needs to work and what he is capable of.
*Since I got this, we’ve been working with Ben on games in general and puzzles in an effort to help him learn frustration tolerance. I can’t help but feel that some of his frustration comes from being a younger sibling and often Eli will “help” Ben in a very demeaning way “Ben, it’s not that hard, stop freaking out.” I wish he’d be more positive and encouraging but he’s coming from the standpoint of (I think) still having some resentment about not being King of the Mountain. In positive news, we have progressed from 24 to 46 to now 100 piece puzzles that Ben wants to do all on his own and when he gets frustrated, he’s stopped saying “I can’t do it” and instead just taking a break then getting back to it. Super proud of that kid.
We recently got the board games Ticket to Ride and King of Tokyo and we’ve been having a lot of fun with those. They are super fun for Eli and even the grown ups really enjoy them. We’ve also been doing a lot of puzzles in general.
The last month has been hard. Hard in a way I don’t really know how to quantify. I’ve been sick and having a lot of problems with nausea and throwing up but I’ve been well connected with my PCP and I think it’s getting under control. It’s been stressful and difficult. That being said, I feel lucky to have such a solid family foundation with all of you and I know things will even out. I am really, really looking forward to Christmas.