Fans of long-running reality show Survivor will be familiar with the term “dig deep.”
It’s what host Jeff Probst says to motivate contestants to tap into their inner strength to get through a physically-grueling challenge.
The last few weeks have been very challenging with T at home and school. We’re not sure if it’s the medication change, weather, full moon – or aliens – but it’s been a struggle.
T’s CYW recently shared that T told her that he finds school hard. It broke our hearts to hear him have these thoughts at such a young age.
But I’m also not surprised. Grade 1 is different from kindergarten. It’s less play based and more sit-at-your-desk and work environment.
This may seem trivial but for a kid like T, this is a big deal. I have no doubt he’s acting out partially because of feeling overwhelmed by the increased pressure and expectations.
I’ve said this before: T is smart and has great potential. We need to help him develop skills to manage his emotions and to adjust the environment to accommodate his learning needs.
I believe that every living thing – special needs or not – is motivated by something.
Part of channeling T’s motivation into something productive is figuring out what his preferred activities are.
For starters, we know T is a hands on learner and curious. Last week at school, they played with sewing machines and that was one of the better days he had. Look at that focus!
About two months ago, his teacher introduced extra homework. Every Friday, a blue duotang would be sent home with extra worksheets to help students keep up or catch up.
She made it very clear this is optional and not mandatory. But we love the extra work!
For me, what motivates me is to help T keep up his learning. We can’t replicate the school environment at home, so I don’t worry about the teacher’s goal to help him do his work independently in a busy classroom.
It’s an important goal for sure, but our focus at home is helping him keep up with the concepts.
This motivates me immensely, even though I’m aware that homework sometimes pushes kids like T over the edge.
We took a break from extra learning two weekends ago after a very challenging week.
I am well aware that one’s mental health – both child and parent – is important.
But we picked it up again this recent weekend and I tried to approach it from the perspective of finding that carrot stick to dangle in front of T.
T loves to play forts so I told him if he completed his assigned work for Saturday, I’ll build the biggest fort he’s ever seen yet.
Sure enough, we slowly but surely got through the work.
And check out this massive fort we made!
Here’s the entrance below, stepping into the foyer. To its immediate left is the living room and to the right is T’s bedroom.
And here’s the living room. His stuffed pets all look quite hungover from a night of partying.
Here’s the living room viewed from the backyard – with the staircase to the rooftop at the far back.
And here’s the rooftop with the hot tub. T and I hung out here for quite some time that morning.
On Sunday, we repeated the same ritual and I used Christmas shopping as the motivation to get him through the work.
Over the two mornings, T plowed through 10 pages of homework. There were resistance and whining but we got through it.
I wish T could always have this same focus, especially at school. But I will take the wins, big and small, where I can.
Some days, I feel like I’m digging my own grave in the moments when I feel so frustrated.
But moments like the past weekend remind me of what motivates us to dig deep: our little lovable pest, T.