Ejuhmacashun

Nothing on the teasing/race issue below.  We are going to ask about it during parent-teacher conferences which is yet a couple weeks away.

Meanwhile, we are finding that even after nearly an entire school year, Nat is still…spacey? Distractable?  It's hard to put a finger on, really.  Here's an example.

Everyday, the kids have to hang up their coats, put away their book bags, change from boots to shoes, etc. before they can enter the classroom.  It regularly takes Nat 20 minutes to get through all this, for the sole reason that the minute she sees another child–in her class or another–she is completely disinterested in the coat task and watches the other people.  So as soon as her classmates arrive and start in with their coats, she's busy watching them.  If we show up early, so that she's the first, she invariably sees other kids in the hall, etc. and it still takes her for-ev-er to get the coat task done.

BUT.  If she has some motivating factor she is perfectly capable of getting the coat hung up as fast as I could do it myself.  In short she CAN do it, but usually won't.  Apparently she has similar behavior in the classroom.

When I've observed her, she's been distracted by the other children while she's working on something simple like spooning rocks from one bowl to another.  It'll take her 30 minutes to move the rocks, because she's stopping every kid who walks by to interact with her.  But then I watched her concentrate perfectly and engage in a perfectly typical way with a box of cards with story problems on them, which she had to read, then formulate equations and solve them using the Montessori beads with which, I know, many of you are familiar.  For 20 or 30 minutes she worked on these story problems without interruption, even though her best friend was working on something else right beside her.

My diagnosis is that certain things bore her and she doesn't care to make herself do them when there is an alternative (like social engagement, which is usually her favorite thing).  But given something with just the right amount of challenge (the math/reading activity was just a bit over her head, but not so much that she didn't feel competent to work at it).

I am convinced, though, that if she were in a more average type of school, she'd be labeled a problem child.  The teacher says she's never seen a kid so "spacey" as Nat who didn't have some kind of cognitive issue like ADD or sequence processing issues or a spectrum diagnosis.  Nat has no other "red flags" for these kinds of issues.  So the teacher–with all her years of experience attending closely to a zillion individual children is stumped.

Me, I think it's just a very pronounced personality quirk.  And I am grateful that A) there is a school where her quirks aren't overly problematized and B) that Cole and I are able to stay on top of what's going on at school and protect her right to be quirky.

I realize that she will have to be capable of moving according to a clock and to someone else's timetable at some point in her life, but I also think that learning that is far less important than doing whatever it is she's doing in her head now, instead of moving to that clock.  I also think it's of virtually no importance at all for a five-year old.  Again, I'm glad she's in a school where it's less important than it would be at most schools.

But this is just the sort of thing that makes me interested in homeschooling.  Yes, it's annoying when Nat won't put her coat away in a timely manner (we struggle with it at home too), but it is so very unimportant to me, really, that she do.  Of much more importance is that her right to be quirky and grow into whoever that quirk indicates she is, be protected.

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14 responses to “Ejuhmacashun

  1. Nat sounds like two of my daughters, and for that matter, me. I would say she has ADD, just as an armchair diagnosis. I also don’t look at this as a problem. It’s not any different than if she had diabetes. It’s just something about the way her brain processes/lacks certain chemicals. In girls it’s especially common for socialization/daydreaming to be the most pronounced system.
    It produces some really wonderful creativity and compassionate personalities in my opinion. It also makes it hard to get things done in the ordinary world sometimes. There are times I just flat out drag out a 20 minute task for a day because I don’t want to do it. I’d rather start a more interesting task, talk to a co-worker, read a blog…
    I haven’t read anything on ADD for years, because frankly we’ve figured out ways we can and can’t deal with it. Years ago I read Driven to Dristraction and found it super informative.
    I know you and Cole will help Nat figure out whatever is going on, whether it be ADD or maturity. I also know you’ll be good at figuring out how to deal with it.

  2. That is Driven to Distraction. Sorry, I saw something shiny while I was typing.

  3. Nat sounds a lot like me. When something is fascinating/challenging I can concentrate on it for hours, a bomb could go off in the next room and I probably wouldn’t hear it. However, other things can take me forever because I am so easily distracted. I have ADD and didn’t get find out until after graduated high school. Everyone thought I was just spacey b/c I wasn’t hyperactive and I was smart, in honors/gifted classes, and my grades were okay.
    Once I was diagnosed, I got a great doctor who taught me study skills that worked for me and medicine and suddenly I went from As/Bs to straight As.

  4. My unprofessional diagnosis is that Nat is 5. I don`t think her distraction is that A typical for her age.

  5. I wouldn’t rush to any kind of diagnosis. It doesn’t sound like a major problem. In our home ed community here we have lots of children who got some kind of diagnosis in ‘the system’ or would have one if they ever ventured there. From what you’ve said about Nat I suspect she’s going to be bored in lots of ‘age appropriate’ situations. I guess she just needs to occupy herself with other things in those times? Some people are just a bit space – as a certain ten year old said to me today, “I’m sorry, I have a tendency to drift off.” We’d sort of noticed!

  6. If we could time warp that teacher back to 1983 and introduce her to me, age 5, she would see another girl more interested in the world than in the worksheet.
    I don’t have any diagnosed attention issues, but I am a science grad student, so being an odd duck is part of the job description.

  7. oh hai…this is totally my six-year-old as well. I tease him that he’s in “glacier mode” when he gets spacey like that. Good for you and your daughter’s teacher for recognizing that differences are not always problems!

  8. My daughter is the same; I’ve amateur-‘diagnosed’ her with impulsiveness. She goes with her impulses always, and it often leads her far astray from prescribed activities. Impulse control is an important thing to acquire growing up, but it’s certainly not high on my list of things that need curing, for sure. At her current age of almost 8, I’m considering taking a book out of the library to suggest strategies for developing impulse control. Don’t know whether that rings any bells for you…

  9. My boy is very similar; he’s on the older side of his kindergarten classroom and is more mature than his age level, but he’s still often the last one to gear up/down when required, etc. I noticed early in the school year though that while most kids are “I LOVE kindergarten! I could be here FOREVER!”, he could take it or leave it, because he knows his own mind enough to want do to what he wants to do when he wants to do it, not when somebody tells him to do it. This sounds like Nat, as does the similar social inclination. I just try to stress that there _are_ rules, and that he’ll have to follow them in order to get things he wants (for instance, if he doesn’t finish his work because he’s socializing, they won’t let him have recess), but I don’t require that he get on board with Rah Rah Kindergarten All The Time! Making his choices “up to him” does help a little. Beyond that, I’m not worried; I think that when things get more challenging, he’ll be more interested. I think Nat sounds much the same.

  10. I’m afraid I have to concur with Lori’s diagnosis: the girl is five! My five-year-old has the same problem with getting dressed/undressed: he goes downstairs to his room and immediately gets lost in playing. I remind him every 3 or 4 minutes of what he’s supposed to be doing, and the response is invariably, “Oh! I forgot.” His preschool teachers comment on how lost he gets in getting dressed and undressed for going outside (which is a big challenge anyway in my mind: they go out at least twice a day in any kind of weather – in northern Iceland – and he has to wrestle with a snowsuit, boots, extra wool socks, etc. I remember having problems with this in second grade!), because he starts talking to the other kids.
    One thing that has worked really well for us at home is to make getting dressed, or any other annoying task, into a competition. He’s a total sucker for this, and immediately starts moving to try and beat us. I don’t know if this would work very long for Nat (we are still amazed he doesn’t figure out we’re tricking him, but we plan to take advantage of it as long as possible!) but it’s worth a try.

  11. Thats just whats been helpful with Nat, Meredith! The teacher has been using an egg-timer to motivate Nat to race the clock. At home, I count to 20 or something and she races around to beat my counting.

  12. I think ADD is wildly over diagnosed in this country.

  13. I think you are right–esp. among certain populations. And I think, upon a couple more weeks reflection that no way does Nat have it.
    Still awaiting the Big Meeting. What was the usual teacher conference turned teacher-learning specialist conference.

  14. As you may know from things I’ve said on Facebook, my daughter – same age, same educational stage – is exactly the same. Clever, loves interacting, concentration span of a gnat. She’s a daydreamer and an observer and an “ooh, shiny!” merchant. She *is* in mainstream school, and she *is* being treated as a problem, and that’s putting her off school and making her doubt her abilities. I don’t have solutions – though her teacher is using sand-timers with some success – but it’s comforting to know that 5-year-old space cadets are not unheard of. I’m being made to feel that she is truly unprecedented in her inablity to focus.

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