Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Spotlight on Nina at just over 5 1/2 Years Old

At 5 1/2 Years Old
Our little lady is five years and seven months old and, like her Grampy told her the other day, Nina’s eyes shine so brightly when she is happy.  Truly, I have never seen brown eyes sparkle the way hers can.  When Nina shares love, a clever idea, a craft she has made, a story she is excited about – or any of the other myriad of things that spark her joy – her eyes dance with light and her smile is contagious.

Excited to Bring Presents Under the Tree

On the flip side, especially when she is hungry or tired, “the other Nina” sets in.  The light in her eyes clouds over with seemingly spontaneous frustration, poutiness, hurt or anger.  Storms of ugly facial expressions, unkind hands and piercing voices roll in.  Luckily, these usually pass by as quickly as they come. 

Trying Out the Tears when Frustrated
Like many children, Nina can be overly dramatic in her responses to situations, and she definitely tests the reactions that her different emotional outbursts elicit.  That’s when things get stormy with Nina.  But, more and more, Mike and I are learning to keep our reactions consistent and, thus, to let the storms pass by, with our bright-eyed girl and the rest of us walking away for the most part unscathed!

Beaming in the Epiphany Crown She Made

And, oh how bright our girl can be!  Nina regularly asks me now, “Can I help you with something?” and, at least several times a day, she volunteers services, shares her food or offers kindnesses to others.  She spends hours drawing, cutting and taping up paper bits to make cards, games and gifts to share.  Compassion, empathy, kindness and service are virtues that come naturally to her.

Testing Nina's Contraption

Creativity has become a strong suit of Nina’s, too – both in thought and in practice.  Just the other day, she whipped up a ball drop contraption that is still hanging between her room and her brother’s as a clever testimony to Nina’s initiative.  All three children pause to play with it several times a day now.

"Reading the Pictures" During Read-to-Self Time
An area Nina could use growth in is academic stamina.  Although she loves books and gladly pours over them several times a day during read aloud times, “read”-to-self times and even play time, she gets easily frustrated when actually dealing with letters and their sounds from a decoding perspective.  Nina struggles with even simple C-V-C words.  This frustrates her and, then, an “I can’t.  I won’t,” attitude sets in.  Persistence flags.  Joy evaporates and we put decoding on pause until another time.  

Listing Our Family Names and a Friend's Family's Names as a Self-Selected Writing Activity

Likewise, even though Nina plays at writing several times a day, sometimes even copying random words from printed material, she tires easily when doing focused handwriting and copywork lessons.  It took her several weeks to write a brief three-line thank you letter that she was excited to finally finish and mail off to a friend on Monday.

Focusing on Pajaggle, a Math Skill Game
Similarly, although Nina enjoys many math-based games and activities and often writes strings of numerals on paper, she cannot count to twenty consistently yet without getting tripped up somewhere between thirteen and fifteen, and she gets stormy when she doesn’t “get” a math concept that we are working on.  

Who has ever seen a girl so excited to get tape in her stocking?
My current approach when Nina faces one of these academic hurdles is to encourage her to try to make “just one” final jump of the day and then to pause, go onto other things, look for her to make a related success during play, point it out and, then reintroduce whatever concept tripped her up during a focused time at some later point, hoping that she doesn’t just shut down with it immediately.  At the same time, I notice and name Nina’s non-academic successes – the many ways she exemplifies virtues, for example – and trust that, over time, the confidence and stamina she often displays with “heart” matters will transfer to “head”, or academic ones. 

Delighting as She Sings to the Christmas Tree

Truly, for a girl who is just over 5 ½ years old, Nina demonstrates a capacity of love, generosity, compassion and creativity that is noteworthy.  When Nina wraps me in a hug, or simply shines her bright eyes my way, I feel privileged to be a mom.  The joy Nina brings to the world more than balances any storms she stirs up.  She has a light and she lets it shine every day in so many ways, such as whrn

Bouncing on Jack's Wahoo

Flashing Chocolate Smiles While Putting Baby Jesus in the Manger

Sharing Time with Big Brother
Excited About the First Big Snow
Have you paused recently to reflect on a child?


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