picture books · slice of life

Spiraling Back to Patterns

We worked with Bruce Goldstone's I SEE A PATTERN HERE.
We worked with Bruce Goldstone’s I SEE A PATTERN HERE.

I should’ve known better. Just because she “mastered” something a few months ago doesn’t mean I shouldn’t return to it.  But that’s what happened.  As soon as Isabelle mastered basic patterns, I stopped working on patterns at home.  Because, you know, there are about 50 other things that need to be worked on.  I should’ve revisited them, at least a little bit, but patterns seemed to slip my mind since other things like /l/ blends and writing uppercase letters seem to be more top-of-mind these days.

Yesterday, we were playing with pegs at home. There was a purple peg, then a blue peg, then a purple peg, then a blue peg. “What comes next?” Isabelle couldn’t answer. She didn’t realize the purple peg would come next in the patterns.  We tried again with different colors.  Again, she was unable to correctly answer which peg came next.  My heart sank. Why couldn’t she generalize the pattern work we had done several months ago to what she was working on now?

This morning, I walked into Isabelle’s play room where she was playing with Legos. I inserted myself into her play using errorless teaching to help her with identifying patterns with the Legos to minimize frustration.  It worked, but she didn’t really want to do patterns.

“I don’t like patterns. Patterns are not good!” Isabelle declared.

“Oh, I love patterns. Patterns are so interesting. And they’re everywhere.  Look at your dress.  The polka dots are in a pattern?”

“They are?”

“Yes, they are. They repeat over and over again.”

“Oh. Well, I still don’t like patterns. Patterns are not good.”

“I used to teach my fourth and fifth graders about patterns. They loved learning about patterns. In fact, I have a book I use with kids when I work in schools about patterns.  It’s a book for bigger kids so I’m not sure you’d be interested in it.”

I gave her a sideways glance. She was looking at me so I continued.

“It’s a book about patterns for big kids. I used it with some six- and seven-year-olds this year. Would you like to see my big kid book on patterns?”

I was expecting a no.  But instead I got a “Yes! Show me!”

Even though we were going to be a little late for camp if I showed her the book, I hustled to my office to grab I See a Pattern Here by Bruce Goldstone. She loved the full-color photographs on the first two page spreads, which is all we got to this morning since it took her awhile to complete the bead patterns, using the errorless teaching method, on the page spread pictured above.

“Would you like to look at more pages now?”

“After camp. Let’s do patterns after camp.”

“Okay,” I said. “Go get your socks and shoes on.”

We got through two page spreads of Goldstone’s book with no yelling and no tears. We have a long way to go, but at least she was willing to work with me this morning, right?

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

14 thoughts on “Spiraling Back to Patterns

  1. This was my first visit to your website…very impressive. The concept of spiraling is very important to me as a former ESL teacher. It’s what I did with my students all day, every day. Now it’s as natural to me as breathing. I did find your use of the phrase “errorless teaching” a bit strange. I think I know what it means, but using the jargon that you use detracts somewhat from the powerful work you are actually doing with your own child…which is allowing her to make mistakes while learning. “using errorless teaching” on your child sounds so clinica; I’m sure that’s not how you meant it to sound. Just a suggestion….

    1. I can imagine it did sound clinical. It’s a pretty new concept to me, so perhaps I struggled in the way I explained it. That said, I’m finding it helpful since my daughter has been getting frustrated when she makes mistakes lately. While I know mistakes are a part of learning, I have to save my corrections for things that are of utmost importance (like her speech and her grasp on a pen for which I’m always correcting her on) rather than things like this. For us, the errorless method is helpful when I need her to keep working when she doesn’t really want to.

  2. It’s funny to me the things I know as a teacher sometimes don’t transfer to my parenting. It’s like I forget my teaching technique because I’m so focused on parenting. I have had many “duh!” moments over my daughter’s 12 years of life. I love how you used a book for teaching. It’s one of my favorite ways to teach!

  3. We have all experienced set backs. I love the way you handled this and turned it around to a positive learning experience for Isabelle.

  4. I’m not a mom, so I don’t know what it’s like to be a teacher to your child. As a friend, I see such love and warmth in your interactions!! There’s so much I don’t know, but I do know this…your daughter is LOVED and I know she knows that!!! I think you are a loving and kind and wonderful mom!!! 🙂

  5. One thing that has long fascinated me about young children is how they seem to stop doing some things (totally regress) while they are striving to learn something else. This is one of the main reasons I oppose putting too much weight on “preschool data” – just because John is weak in his counting doesn’t mean he is bad at math, it means he isn’t working on or interested in math today! I love your “end run” – how you found a new way to approach her, appealing to her desire to learn like the big kids do…

  6. It sounds like it went very well, Stacey, & like others said above, you switched gears at the right time, & re-interested Isabelle. I think it’s nice that you have so much background in what she needs. You can get a bit of a lesson in now and then.

  7. Parenting and being a teacher is tricky. What I love about your piece is that you kept nudging but your work really happened when she was ready and she made a plan to continue working. I hope the after camp session went well.

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