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Gavin’s New Thing

This school year has been eye-opening. I mean this in an awe-inspiring kind of way. Yes, there have been a few challenges, but not nearly as many as I had anticipated. I have had the privilege to watch my favorite little people grow and make significant academic progress.

Matt and I were blessed with having the option of choosing what the boys studied this year. They each had some input in the decision making process. I decided that among other subjects, Spanish would be beneficial for them both. Given that we hope to someday return to our native land and speaking Spanish is incredibly useful, we thought this selection was wise. Plus, Gavin had some Spanish last year and I was impressed with what he learned.

Fast forward from July to March . . . okay stop. I’m going to be honest here. Brutally honest. It may have seemed “wise”, but it was not a good fit. Ever try to force a puzzle piece into a puzzle shaped hole? Yeah. No.

At first, things seemed to be a normal part of learning. Keep in mind that Gavin likes to moan and groan a lot, so I had to develop the right ears for this homeschool gig. As you can imagine, things sort of went downhill with Spanish. Not in a fast and fun sort of way. More like waking up to find that the cat has peed in your bed kind of way. Not a pretty picture is it?

Gavin (and I) dreaded Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Those are the days that both boys worked on their Spanish. The days that Gavin had to speak into the microphone were the bad days. Some days there were absolutely no problems and life was enjoyable and cheerful. But other days? I would have to linger around the kitchen/living room area to make sure everything was okay. Somedays, I would hear him groaning and crying in frustration. He had a lot of help from me on these days. He did learn how to stop, write down troublesome words on some notepaper, and practice over and over. However, it was just too difficult for him. He would speak and the program would not accept his answer. You either get it 100% correct or you are WRONG. Not great for someone still struggling with his Rs. Girl, grill, gull – all sound the same. He tried so hard. It made me very sad to see his answers continually rejected (even when he said it correctly).

And it may be, that the Rosetta Spanish is too advanced for him. I’ve always known that languages aren’t his thing. He sort of has a history with not speaking any other language but English. I have a feeling there are little boys all over Europe who have learned English from him though.

I just thought if he persevered, he could push through the barrier. It did not happen.

Let’s make a change.

Matt asked, “Gavin, do you want to learn to play the guitar?”

A resounding YES! from the One and Only Gavin Barker.

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Back to the drawing board. We put Spanish on hold, or rather, ditched it. Tristan is still continuing with it and he enjoys it.

The school year is practically over, but guitar practice can certainly continue. Right now, I’m just winging it. I’m teaching him basic chords and easy strum patterns. I decided to start him out with the electric. Yes, it’s quite a lot heavier, but it is easier for little fingers to manipulate. Plus, since it’s mine, it is small enough for him to handle.

We are now four weeks into guitar practice and so far Gavin loves it. He looks forward to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He practices for 20 minutes and gets to have some “free play”.

I am teaching him the guitar. I really, really, really do not want to be the music teacher. I doubt my ability in the music teaching area. I’m simply teaching him from my own experiences, which are scant. I taught myself to play – end of story. One day, when I’m actually in a store, I may be able to select a guitar book that is great for him. For now, he’s reading some notepaper that I’ve scribbled on. Primitive, I know. I’m sure there is a better method out there somewhere.

In case you are wondering, music lessons were offered earlier in the year. No one was interested. No one. Matt & I nearly begged them to learn something musical. All I heard from them was “No. no. no.” I certainly did not want to waste money and time driving around for lessons that they are not interested in. Anyway, I’m not entirely sure we could have found lessons for them here. Things are a change ‘un round these parts.

Live & Learn

I learned that it’s important to keep evaluating your kids, offer them opportunities (if such exist), and listen to them. This does not mean that Gavin is going to get out of writing. However, it does mean that we can compromise when it’s appropriate.

Will he ever learn another language? Probably. Maybe. Not sure. Let’s revisit this in ten more years. He knows more German, Greek, and Spanish than he thinks he knows. But I’m not concerned about it right now. I can speak a little bit of those languages and I still can’t find my car when leaving the grocery store. No big whoop.

His talents and gifts are what I am really interested in working with right now. Thankfully, I’m in a position to nurture those.


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