He’s far sighted, has astigmatism, and amblyopia (a wandering eye).
Since March we’ve been trying to help him catch up on all the school skills he’s missed since starting preschool when he was 2 1/2. Turns out he wasn’t learning, not because of lack of effort or interest, but because he couldn’t see. Since May he’s been wearing an eye patch for three hours a day and we’re hoping it helps correct his wandering eye. We’re heading back to the Children’s Hospital at the end of the summer to find out if the patch and coke-bottle thick glasses have resulted in any improvement.
In the mean time we’ve been working on our ABC’s, 123′s, and pencil-wrangling skills. But third trimester pregnancy and entrepreneurship and then the arrival of the baby duck left me feeling slightly overwhelmed by my new role as teacher. I already wear a lot of hats and I wasn’t liking the fit of this particular head gear. As much as I wanted to help and encourage him I had no idea where to start or even what I should be focusing on. Not to mention the significant feelings of jealousy the firefighter was struggling with as I spent extra time playing tutor to his younger brother.
The monkey is smart as a whip (as his great grandma’s might say), enthusiastic, curious, and full of life. He is also not an ideal ‘sit quietly and follow instructions’ sort of student. After completing a BA in psychology and a Master’s degree in educational counselling I know how boys can fare at school and why they fail the system (and the system fails them). With the monkey starting JK this Fall I wanted him starting on the right foot: having the basic skills in place, being able (willing?) to follow instructions, and (most of all) feeling positive about learning. For the last 18 months he’s been wrong about almost everything school-related almost all the time. I thought he was being a bit of a cheeky monkey (as he tends to be) when it came to school but of course we now realize he didn’t know the answers because he couldn’t see (choke back the mommy guilt).
With Kumon’s help he’s learning his letters and starting with the foundations of sight and phonetic reading. The firefighter amazes me everyday with the speed that he picks up new skills and absorbs everything. He actually read a story to me this week and I’m not sure who was more proud: me or him. Twice a week they sit with a teacher for 30-40 minutes to do their work and then every day of the week I spend 15-30 minutes with them going through their worksheets. It’s quality time I get to spend with each of them; I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to help them learn; and I feel like we’re making up for the time we lost when the monkey was looking at the world through his very distorted eyes.
The two thirty minute breaks I get twice a week while I sit in the waiting room using free WiFi and enjoying a few moments of peace. Well that’s a bonus too.