Wiped Out!

Now I remember why I kept putting off watercolor painting; the set up is so time-consuming. I basically had to mix 21 jars of paint; 7 colors each for all three of us. I had to drag the table from the garage and clean it. I had to get all of the stray crayon marks off of our painting boards (we use the back sides for drawing and they always end up with a few crayon marks on the painting side). I had to tear the paper to size. I had to clean the paint brushes, even though they had seemed clean when put away last (this always happens). I had to find boxes to put the paint jars in. Note to everyone else: make preparing for your first day of painting a project for the week before! I thought I would get it done during quiet time but it took longer than that.

The boys were so excited; hopefully once painting becomes part of the routine they won't get as excited because it made it hard for them to wait until project time (although T was able to focus on reading during practice time, which we did while I mixed paints). Also, I felt like I talked way too much. They weren't watching me or taking cues from me. It was as if we had never done this before and they didn't remember anything. This is tough; T is so verbal (to the point of needing help learning to keep his self-talk internal). He wants to talk about every little thing we do, all day long. It really breaks the mood to even have to stop and say "watch me".

I watched the first painting section on the Enki DVD, and decided to use that color character story with the boys. I told that story while I painted, then I took my painting away and told the story again while they painted, so they wouldn't just look at my painting and copy it. That was a pretty good tactic and all 3 pictures are different.

The boys really wanted to paint "pictures" with form (before we started, that is). We do so much crayon drawing that it was difficult for them to sink into the color without requiring that it become a form. That is why I decided to use the story.

The boys enjoyed painting, but it is really hard for them to remember all of the rules about cleaning the brush between each dip into a paint jar, drying the brush, not rubbing the brush into the paper, etc. By the time he was done with his painting T wasn't very interested in cleaning up the supplies.

Next week won't be so tough. The paints are ready to go, and hopefully we can just leave the table set up outside.


catcobalt said…

Loving the new look of your blog! I never really thought of the pink as being you . . .

Read your post about painting this morning. Oy VEY! That sounds like a lot of work.

You wrote:

"Also, I felt like I talked way too much. They weren't watching me or taking cues from me. It was as if we had never done this before and they didn't remember anything. This is tough; T is so verbal (to the point of needing help learning to keep his self-talk internal). He wants to talk about every little thing we do, all day long. It really breaks the mood to even have to stop and say "watch me".

I have a couple of comments that might help you to think through these issues because we run into them with G all the time.

We have had a lot of practice lately in introducing various types of activities as a means of fostering master-apprentice, and this type of relationship was really how you were working with the boys.

#1 How long has it been since you did this kind of painting?

Somewhere, either in one of our conversations or a previous post, you had indicated that it had been QUITE a while since you did this kind of activity.

Plus all the excitment and anticipation would have made it difficult for them to slow down and connect and be able to watch you. (BOY can I relate to this problem).

This is where some physical activity right before -- between the practice work and the paintin -- might have helped you.

I would have done something that involved proprio/stretching, and then maybe just slow in/out breathing together or a calming verse to SLOOOOOW DOWN before beginning.

#2 Remember you have broad-band communication--there are so many ways beyond talking to communicate.

It is VERY tough to remember this when they aren't watching or taking cues from you. However, there are a bunch of nonverbal things you can do to get attention, like clearing your throat, sighing, drumming fingers on the table or your thigh, snapping, pushing your chair back, standing up (and so many more I am not clearly thinking about this early in morning).

It seems artificial to do this at first, but once you have their attention, you can demonstrate what you want nonverbally, or using as few words as possible.

The more you practice these techniques the easier they become--and the more attuned the boys will be so that they will remember to reference you more often when you are not talking at them.

#3 Do you use different techniques with new activities?

As you suggested, you may have been thrown off by thinking they would remember how to do this activity.

I know that at least with movement and verses, Beth talks about modeling movements/techniques and having them gradually sink in, but she also talks about not letting them do things incorrectly so improper motions etc don't get mylenated. (Sp?) Catch 22.

There isn't a lot of discussion of these issues with regard to crafts, projects like painting, etc. However, I believe some of the same issues apply.

The thing to remember is that demonstration is not effective all the time, and may be signficantly less effective depending on your kid and their needs and particular learning style.

For some things, verses etc, we've found repetition does produce gradual participation and works fairly well.

However, for anything requiring a sequence of novel muscle movements (movement activities) G may NOT be successful enough on his own (without forms of help other than simple demonstration), to avoid improper learning/mylenation.

This is where the flexibility of Enki and Beth's reminders to consider your own kids are so fantastic. The limitations of demonstration by doing with regard to special needs kids might also be something for us to ask Beth about and a great topic for the end of the month 4pm phone call.

I do generally demonstrate by doing, initially once. Then as needed, I tend to repeat activities moving his hands with mine, or side by side adjusting his body as necessary.

T, for example, might benefit from from a hand over hand demonstration.

Or--in the nonverbal vein--if the boys get too excited and so are rushing, or are dipping a dirty brush back in the jar, you could put your hand over theirs and guide them to slow them down, or remind them to wash it first.

Another thought, the boys may have been to busy listening to the story and watching what you were producing while you were painting to be able to focus on how you were doing it (cleaning the brush in between etc).

It is often difficult to focus on more than one thing, and they were being asked to focus on 3: content of story, technique, and what you were producing with your painting.

I know I might have a hard time taking in all three areas adequately if presented at the same time.

Naybe reading the story should have preceeded watching you actually painting, at least for the first session.

#4 Constant running chatter. Self-talk is very important to kids, and kids with special needs may continue to self-talk longer than other children, because they have yet not internalized the inner dialogue that helps them stay on track with tasks.

However, this kind of difficulty with pragmatics (social use of communication including language/body language) is very similar to G's behavior. And may relate to your "two questions" email to me last week.

For us, G's continual monologuing, his lack of awareness of the communication partner's disinterest, and our growing feeling that these types of remarks would continue no matter WHO was standing there, or whether we really even responded, were BIG indicators of something being amiss other than sensory processing + dyspraxia.

Hang in there! You should be so proud of everything you guys have accomplished.

catcobalt said…
Forgot to mention -

You might want to borrow my copy of Laura Berk _Awakening Children's Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can
Make A Difference_ and read the chapter on self-talk.

I think it would help you to think about what's going on with T. The real question you need to be able to answer is whether his continued self-talk is a functional strategy that is really supporting his learning, or something that is getting in the way.

Given what you have said about T's speech issues, the self talk may be related to motor-planning. In other words, it may be that he really needs to talk himself through other novel motor activities. Does he do this with many other activities?

Or it may be what I mentioned in a previous post.

I included the following information about motor planning in a letter to G's preschool teachers when he when he was three. Thought it might also be helpful in helping you to think through the self-talk and instruction issues.

Motor planning is involved in all aspects of “doing.” When you request T do something, it requires praxis: the process of planning, sequencing, carrying out, and ultimately remembering motor movements.

Dyspraxia (difficulty in motor planning) makes it difficult for a child learn how to do non-habitual actions. The problem can occur at any point in the process: coming up with an idea of what to do, how to plan and organize what the body needs to do, and/or how to sequence and execute movements.

It is especially important to remember that dyspraxia can involve an ideational or conceptual component – the ability to mentally plan a series of activities or organize materials to create a product.

Dyspraxic children may not be able to generalize skills learned in one context to another, even if the process called for is basically the same.

A child with dyspraxia may have difficulties in both ideational and motor realms when it comes ANY SINGLE ITEM or MULTIPLE ITEMS in the following list:

Deciding what to do and how to do it

Getting started on projects

Translating ideas and images into action

Organizing a series of actions to produce an intentional movement

Figuring out how to play a new game or incorporate new actions or movements into an old pattern of activity.

Combining several steps of an activity even though he can complete each individual step successfully

Learning and executing novel motor activities (tricycle riding, yoga positions, soccer skills etc)

Transitioning from one body position to another with appropriate sequencing and timing (yoga class–physical education activities, games like Simon Says)

Smoothly executing the fine motor movements required to tie shoes, fasten clothes, or for writing and cutting with scissors

Using appropriate facial movements to convey feeling and meaning

Coordinating eye-hand movements

Recognize the movement of his own body in relationship to the movement of others – he may think someone else bumped him when he, in fact, bumped the other person.

Dyspraxic children will often benefit from “hand-over-hand” help to learn new tasks (place your hand over his to guide him as he performs the task).

They also benefit from having multi-step activities taught step-by-step, having instructions slowed down, and having extra opportunities to practice.

T may need to be cued again and again until his brain “gets” it. (This is where it is important to remember non-verbal and indirect cuing to avoid prompt dependence).

Remember that dyspraxic children may not be able to generalize with regard to motor planning (apply skills learned in one situation to different tasks or situations).

Visual aids may help him to remember multiple steps for complex tasks.

:-) Kat
Blissfulbee said…
I will definitely remember to prepe the week before, that is a good tip and I so would have thought I could do it that same day. LOL

Between your post on the wet-on-wet painting and Kats feedback, this is a really informative and helpful post about the realities of implementing this activity.

Im really starting to get excited about our lessons getting rolling again. Thinking about doing the arts and the nature crafts this year is really exciting me. Especially with the Enki crafts guides. I really like the ideas in there and the use of so many natural materials.

I will watch the painting DVD and listen for the story your taling about. I havent gotten that far yet. :-)

Will you do this just once a week, or wht is your plan for frequency? Also where did you get your paint jars?
APKimberMama said…
Wow, Kat! Thanks for taking the time to type all of that for me. It is really helpful.

Actually, it had been a long time since we had painted wet-on-wet. And I don't know what I expected perfection in terms of remembering to rinse the paint brush each time; we've gone over it many times, with all kinds of painting, but they are children. Heck, I suppose even adults might forget now and then. What I should have done is quietly reminded them via the verse from our painting story. Instead I was thinking about them muddying the paints that I had just spent an hour mixing. That can be the downside to working with expensive art materials.

Also, I'll admit it, I made it easy on myself before. There were 3 of us, 3 paint brushes, and 3 colors. We did the old school trick of keeping a brush in each color rather than rinsing to change colors. Also, we were using Colorations Liquid Watercolors, which are inexpensive and even cheaper when you get them on sale, as I did. (We used Colorations because I hated the Stockmar paints I bought, which I later learned may have been because of the Strathmore paper and not using a watercolor medium.)

If we had painted together, stroke for stroke, it would have been easier for them to imitate the brush washing. I knew, however, that T would copy my painting exactly, and I wanted him to explore more than that and sink into the color. Still, because he can hold an image in his mind his painting was more like mine than J-Baby's was.

In terms of the paintings, I found it interesting that J-Baby's Little Yellow character needed a lot of help from grandfather blue to feel happy. T's Little Yellow was more exuberant than J's, and his Little Red was more balanced, whereas Little Red was very prominant in J's painting until Little Blue arrived to calm her down (if none of this makes sense, I'm sorry...the story is in the grade 1 materials).

Physical activity is a great idea! I just reread part of Boook III on rhythms and noticed (for the first time) that Beth shows "movement regrounding" happening a few times during the day (chart p. 335). Once the paper is in the waer it has to soak for 10 minutes; that would be a great time to do a focused SI activity, or even for them to swing for 10 minutes. They actually helped me make dinner during that time, and even that refocused them and calmed them. For T, I think it is a relief when he knows precisely when something will happen.

I took a look at the self-talk chapter in Awakening Children's Minds. Both boys do use private speech extensively, and it seems quite normal. I think I wrote about it incorrectly. T just talks all of the time! I was called a "motor mouth" when I was a child both because I talked all of the time and because I talked so fast. T is the same way; I recall by the time he was 3YO his speech therapist told me that he certainly had surpassed the developmental average when it came to verbal expression and complexity (the problem was that no one could understand him). I do think it is helping him process what is going on.

But really, we are a family that talks! The boys talk to each other all day, and when Papa comes home we all have so much to talk to him about. I don't know how realistic it is to expect the boys to suddenly work without verbal cues, especially not with new material. It is easy to sing a song, help J-Baby undress, hand him his underwear (which he knows how to put on), etc. It is easy to cue things like the bedtime ritual or meal time with song or verse.

But it has to be confusing to be so excited about painting and to want to talk about it, and to have Mom keeping singing a little song instead of talking back. I have to remember that the boys are 6 and 7, and soon singing transitions may get pushed aside almost completely.

As always, there is fantasy and there is reality. More song and less talk will help the sinking into color process, but it is unrealistic forme to think that we're going to spend 30 minutes painting and never talk.
APKimberMama said…
Clarification: I mention that the boys have learned to rinse the paint brushes, and I mention using a brush for each color. A brush for each color was done earlier, when we did wet-on-wet regularly. Painting with tempera paints, glitter paints, pan watercolors etc. they have learned to clean the brushes.

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