After meeting with a speech and language pathologist last Friday and discovering that my extremely bright, oldest son has some language and memory issues that have been exasperated by the great FRUSTRATION involved in learning to read, I set about to make a change in the way we do things around here.
After a lot of research I found that, by far, one of the best strategies to help students with these issues is to get them to RELAX and make learning fun and meaningful.
So, I dipped back into my former teaching years and remembered that chocolate chip cookies have been shown to be the most relaxing smell. Then I put my mind and pen to work to formulate a fun, meaningful, relaxing day-long activity which incorporated more elements and activities that I found to be helpful in my research.
This new approach is something we’re calling “Cookie School.”
The lovely, sweet, kind, and oh-so-patient “Miss Cookie” (my alter-ego) met the boys in the kitchen at 9:00am, as announced the night before and greatly anticipated that morning.
She pulled out a child’s cookbook and asked the boys to help read the recipe to make sure she didn’t make any mistakes. Of course she had to step away from the cookbook to gather supplies and the boys had to read all by themselves (and my oldest did very well with no signs of frustration).
While the cookies baked the boys did some math work (which is a favorite around here) and when the cooking timer went off a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies were served with a short reading lesson. My oldest one couldn’t believe it when he heard that he had to eat a cookie while he read because this was “Cookie School!”
Needless to say there was no arguing, no frustration, no anger… something that hasn’t happened with a reading lesson in a long time.
We proceeded through the rest of the day with memory games, brain teasers, story time, show and tell, outside play, and grammar work.
Then at the end of school time my oldest took a photo of the cookies and wrote a review of them in a journal for future reference.
He did a GREAT job at all of his learning that day and even read quite a bit on the couch with me as I played a game where I fumbled through a Star Wars book reading words like “dangerous” as “sweet” and “nice” as “fluffy” (to which he taught me rules like “c before e makes /s/”.) There were lots of great reading strategies he had tucked away in his mind that couldn’t come out before with the frustration.
It was also interesting to see what happened in his writing when the stress was gone… A majority of his letters were written backwards, making me wonder if he normally spends so much energy trying to get things right that when he relaxed he wrote what his mind truly sees? (just a thought)
It’s also strengthened my resolve to schedule an appointment with Scottish Rite for language/dyslexia testing (they provide testing and any needed therapy free of charge).
But mostly it was WONDERFUL to see him enjoying reading!
We all had a GREAT time and it looks like “Cookie School” will be a weekly activity at our house (on Tuesdays). :) Yum!