Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tailoring an Education

Sophie is all about trains. 

A little blue train named Thomas.

Her obsession started with a book that I found at our consignment store for $1.00 - and grew from 12 pieces of wooden track to the mountain that we now own today.

When I started to work with Sophie on colors, letters & numbers she was not interested.  No many how many cute animal themes, or princess themes, or color themes I tried - nothing drew her attention away from the trains. 
After banging my head against the wall for a few weeks I realized that I needed to relax and use a subject that I knew she liked.  I threw all my carefully chosen learning tools out and started over with basic items that we already owned.

We work on colors {how many engines are green; putting all the same colors together}

We work on numbers {finding the number on each engine and putting them in order}

We work on motor skills {putting tracks together in different configurations}

We work on patterns {different track pieces and colors}

We work on letters {thomas flash cards}

We go to the library and we have checked out every Thomas book they have.

We take field trips to the local train station to watch trains go by, and talk about the different parts of the track.
Sophie is doing great!  She knows all her colors, numbers through 20, and her alphabet.  She has amazing spacial recognition skills and can build any track configuration without issue.  She can name most parts of a train, can tell you the difference between a diesel engine and a steam engine, and explain what a switch is and how it works on the tracks.

Could I have been successful if I'd stuck to my original plan and made it work?

Yes, I believe so. 


I believe that she is engaged because it's fun!  By listening to her and using her interests she is less aware that we're doing *school* and more interested in learning about the world around her.

I would encourage you to tailor your approach and materials to each individual child.  If you feel like you are hitting a brick wall, take a step back and re-evaluate.  Ask someone to observe and/or look over your materials.  You don't have to start at the beginning, just tweak your program a bit and see what happens!

Is there anything that you are struggling with right now?
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