Transition Pains... ... and gains...

Have not posted for a long time. There were quite a few things happening at work and at home. Has been a year of tough transitions all across. It has been frustrating and uninspiring; not much motivation to blog... not only on this blog but on the other one too.

Regarding DS, he has moved on from the middle school (where he had really settled and doing well) into high school. In US, going to high school implies, one physically shifts school. For both, DW and I, this was one of trepidation. As expected, DS had enormous challenges in settling in the school. We started with resource classes and special day classes. He seemed to have hard time coping with difficulty quotient that he had become disruptive in the class; and we had complaints frequently. So we had to pull him off these resource class (and replace it with work at home - more of that later). Also, the school resource specialist have worked with the class teacher for certain techniques. Since the past couple of months, DS seems to have settled down very well at school and he now says he loves the school and the teachers in his class* (* see note at the end of this post).

Re his development, physically he has grown very tall - taller than 5'10" (and just hit 14) and stronger, helps me carry grocery bags from the car, including 20-25 pound rice bags. He continues to go to Karate & Tennis class. Over the summer, he has learned to swim the breadth of the pool without keeping his foot down and breathing between strokes. He now goes to once a week swim class, where the teacher says he is quite a natural in his back-stroke. As the soccer season got over, the basket ball started. He wants and is very excited to go to the basket-ball practices.

On the emotional intelligence side: he has become quite flexible - the techniques we learned at Pace Place has helped in getting him to break most of his inflexible rules - so much so that his mother can drive a car (but he would not sit with her - knowing how she drives, even I dont :-) ). He has learned to be in the grey area - or the understanding of it. He has begun rating his experience from 0 to 10 - so its always not black or white as it was before. It was a moment of revelation for us, when he rated two bad experience in negative. And articulated that -3 was worser than -1. He has pretty much on his own on the computer these days - surfing to check for cars, researching about maruti and see helicopter crashes... Sometime, I do wish he surfs the normal ;-) sites that teenagers of his age do !!

Socially, he is more in the group. During our annual winter pilgrimage to India, he was sitting with the group whenever we visited our friends. He also attempted and succeeded quite well in asking return questions to keep the conversation going. The biggest change we saw this time, he didn't try to remove himself from the group setting, but continued to sit with all of us.

On the learning side: His comprehension is improving; we are looking using Linda-Mood Bell of visualizing for reading comprehension. Somehow we believe the time has come where he is ready for higher level of comprehension, that may aid his learning. DW is reading a book on that (link here). We have also effectively used the captive-attention time, via long drives: we typically take a long drive through the suburbs in the sparse weekend traffic, during which we have a very fruitful and productive engagement. Stories (that he makes up) have become an effective way for him to communicate his thoughts and experiences. We believe, through the stories, he is not only getting the intellectual understanding, but also internalizing the message.

In the mindmap model I had posted earlier (link here), I believe, DS has made progress in the flexibility, problem solving, perspective taking, understanding the gray areas and some level of independence. He is also begun to accept failures, which implies he is no longer worried about being wrong and hence not attempting. Simply, DW instituted a simple approach - during the long drives, she will ask a question and DS has to attempt 5 answers including 4 wrong answers. Being ok with wrong, we believe, will in turn reduce some of his anxiety.

So, here we go ! 2011 will be the year of 20++ :-) That is how I want to look at this after the 2010...
* After all the tribulations of settling down in the high school, DS was one of the 3 students awarded for making the greatest progress since joining ! P....r....o....u.....d !! Of the effort he has made to get here.