#11 (Shared Reading)

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“But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.”
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

I love this book and there are so many great quotes you can pull from it at any given time to help you in a myriad of ways. This quote resonates with me right now because of the message. It basically says that no matter what life throws at you, it is your choice how you react. I’m not a huge fan of the saying “everything happens for a reason.” I understand why that can be helpful to people and I’m probably biased against it because I connect it to a time in my young adulthood when a lot of well-meaning adults were saying it to me, but then had no concrete answers as to what that reason was -and in my adolescences it became a sort of cop out that adults would say because I was just an ignorant child who couldn’t see the big picture….anyway, I think the Steinbeck quote is more helpful. Instead of accepting that there might be some reason why a particular thing has happened in your life and possibly becoming side-tracked by looking for that reason; I like to think that things happen. Period. They happen and you either deal with it or you don’t. Now, this might be just as much an oversimplification as “things happening for a reason”, but that’s the mind set I need to do the things that need doing.

When thinking about the prospect of going back to school and thinking about how this summer felt so overwhelming with all the appointments and things that we were doing with Finn, I couldn’t fathom how we would manage. I remember what an adjustment going back to work was when Kayla was that age & that was hard enough! But in the end, you just gotta man up. Timshel is empowering because sometimes as a parent it seems like you have no choice. You just do the right thing even when that’s much harder, but you DO have a choice. Good parents are good parents because of that choice. Even though I mess up ALL THE TIME as a mom, I can live with myself because I keep that in mind.

As expected, it has been quite the whirlwind of a start to this school year. Balancing things has been a challenge, but is going more smoothly than I thought it would -which is kind of relative since I was expecting complete and utter disaster haha. The fact that we have not left one of the kids somewhere or ended up driving to work still wearing pajamas are things I am checking off in the success column! Dan & I are adjusting to life working opposite shifts, which is great for our kids, especially for Finn to get to programs & appointments only offered during working hours, but a little rough for mom & dad since that means we are either at work or on our own with both kids and doesn’t leave too much “us” time, but just like being a working parent makes you appreciate the hours you get with your kids; I think the time Dan & I get together now is more precious in a way too.

Today was a really cool day. The third Saturday of every month we will basically have a scheduled, mandatory family day. We joined the Shared Reading Project, a national program offered by Gallaudet University to parents & caregivers of deaf & hard of hearing children. We are lucky enough to live 15 minutes away from where they offer their local program (NECC). As it says on their website, it is “designed to teach parents and caregivers how to read to their deaf and hard of hearing children using American Sign Language, and to use strategies to make book sharing most effective.” They give you a book, sign through the whole book with the class while the kids are taken into another room to do arts & crafts that are themed with the book and learn how to sign the key vocabulary in the book. Then they break you into smaller groups and help you practice how to sign the whole book. Next, they have the kids come back in and sign the book to the kids. Finally, they give you the book AND a DVD with someone signing the book in ASL to take home and read/watch with the family. All this plus breakfast at the beginning and lunch at the end! Food obviously being a vitale part of how well I can learn. : )

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It was interesting that besides learning how to sign the entire book, they really focused on how to share the book. For any teachers out there, it was basically SIOP (Sheltered Instruction for ESL students) and when you think about it, deaf kids are ESL students because knowing ASL is not the same as knowing English. But just like I learned during SIOP training, sharing a book instead of just reading the words is good for ANY child’s reading & language development. Here is an interesting site explaining the 15 Principles for Reading to Deaf Children (most of them are great principles for reading to ANY kid)!.

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Kayla learning how to sign “Blue Burt and Wiggles”

There’s that theme popping up again- the thought that has been with me through any class/lecture/trade book/Professional development/Child Psych course I have ever taken. Whether the focus be on Special Education/Special needs kids, ELLs (English Language Learners), Behavior adjustment kids, or my own deaf son, the parenting/teaching techniques I learn for these kids are great for ANY kid. Keeping that in mind not only helps my “mainstream” students & my hearing daughter benefit from these “special” strategies, but also help lessen the focus that the other kids are “different”. Best teaching and parenting practices are the best for all kids and when I get into a moment where I doubt myself as a teacher and/or a mom and start asking myself “am I doing a good enough job helping Finn develop (or for this student who has trouble focusing/reading/understanding English)?” I try to keep in mind that if I’m trying my best to use those best practices than I shouldn’t have to worry too much.

I hope that none of this sounds preachy. Ugh, I would be extremely disappointed to have made anyone feel that way! I am way more insecure than I come off on here sometimes. When I write these posts, I edit them over and over again. I gather my thoughts & then word them in a WAY more put together way than I ever thought them the first time around. I have had a lot more moments where I’m questioning myself, down, stressed, etc. than those moments of clarity when I pull myself up by the bootstraps and think about timshel, but what good does it do to write about the bad moments? I’m trying to use this as  way to help keep family/friends informed of our journey and, if possible, help anyone else who is going through the same or similar thing understand how it was from my perspective. I hope that is how people take it.

I leave you with a fun video. My love of books is probably only in contest with my love of music. Learning to read to Finn in ASL is helping me learn how to sign in general. Following that same idea, I have been trying to sign along with some of my favorite songs. When Kayla and I have our impromptu dance parties (especially when  we are in traffic) we have started trying to sign any words we know along with the song/beat. Not only has this solved the problem that this very white gal has always had with trying to figure out what the heck to do with her hands when rocking out, it has also become a really fun way to practice signing.  That being said, here is my current favorite ASL music video (there are a TON on youtube, but some are way better than others):

 

 

 

 

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One Response to #11 (Shared Reading)

  1. jeannie nadeau says:

    Thanks for 11. I’m learning so much from your posts. Agree heartily that good practice for challenged people is best for all people. I believe that over time all of us experience challenges that we can turn into learning experiences, if we so choose.
    That to me is not the same as everything having a purpose. I hope you are getting all the help and support you can manage. I send psychic hugs.
    Jeannie in London

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