* My dear Isaac

Dear Isaac is my nephew with an unidentified auditory processing disorder and dyscalculia, all mixed with a heavy dose of emotional distress.  He’s a bright, creative youngster with strengths in science and art.  But as a third grader, he still can’t add or subtract single digit numbers without his fingers.  If we hadn’t used Alan Walker’s multiplication methodology, Isaac wouldn’t have learned any multiplication facts.  After his initial refusal to engage with the Walker approach to memorization, Isaac cut his losses and became proud of his new knowledge.

After my initial assessment, I estimated that it would take six months to correct fundamental math reasoning errors.  That was an accurate estimate.  Isaac has made solid progress in solving problems.  You would be so proud if you could see him working on multiple-step word problems!

Sadly, dear Isaac is now burned to a crisp at school and when it’s time for homework.  He doesn’t act out at school but his teacher reports that he is frequently inattentive and withdrawn.  The school year has been too long and taxing.  Isaac feels stupid, is depressed, and his teacher flat out refuses to lessen the homework load.  Oh dear!

A predictable conundrum for him (and me!) is dealing with his errors.  He has made too many and now wants to be error-free for life.  If only!  He is reluctant to accept alternative methods of calculation when he feels especially low.  We had a difficult session this past week when he refused to write multiple digit addition problems vertically instead of horizontally.

After staring at his horizontally-written problem, Isaac screamed, “I can’t do this!   I thought you were going to help!”

“Write it vertically, Isaac.”

“I’m going to do it MY way!”  

“Go ahead.”  [I walk across the room because I know he’s going to implode if I stay close.  Or I might just bite my hand off.]

Repeat above scenario 3 times.

Finally, amidst tears and growls, Isaac rewrites the problem vertically and gets so much praise from me that we are back on track.  I remain at his side as his sense of humor returns and he completes all the dreaded homework in record time.

Here’s the adorable Isaac, taking aim at homework with a tripod?

Isaac 3



2 thoughts on “* My dear Isaac

  1. This was so interesting, and such a challenge for both of you! The school year is so long for one who struggles, and I have a hard time accepting that a child this young should have a bunch of homework after a long day in school. In reading this I can tell what a pro you are after years of experience, knowing just how to deal with the frustration and the outbursts so that it ends up a win-win situation and Isaac has reason to be proud of his success. So much of adult self-esteem, or the lack of it, is based on our school experiences. He is blessed to have you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Josie. After all these years, I know there will never be one perfect response to a student meltdown. I hated to see him suffer but until he was willing to erase 8 + 8 + 14 + 14, we were stuck. The greatest sadness I feel is that he is so misunderstood by his teachers and that is likely to persist. If he were staying here next year, I would have advocated for a formal evaluation by this time. He and his sibs are returning to their “home” after 3 years.


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