Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Rare Grey Striped Albino Rhinoceros

Teaching Captain Chaos is a lot like trying to get Governor William J. Lepetomane to sign a bill into law.  “Give us a hand here,” Governor Lepetomane commanded.   As Lieutenant Governor Hedley Lamarr grabbed the governor’s hand and guided it through his signature, Lepetomane announced, “Work, work, work!  Work, work, work!” while looking everywhere and anywhere except at the bill in front of him.  Life imitated art yesterday when I told Captain Chaos to color a rhinoceros. 

It was a simple Language Arts assignment.  On a sheet of paper there were different shapes.  Inside each shape was printed a letter of the alphabet.  She needed to color all the shapes with consonants in them green.  All the shapes with vowels in them were colored grey.  If she colored all the shapes properly, there would be a picture of a rhinoceros standing in the jungle.  Captain Chaos understood the concept.  The problem was that she was more interested in anything and everything going on around her than on the art assignment in front of her.   Her hand moved as if it had a mind of its own, while she looked around the room and spoke about one of her brother’s video games, a fly in the kitchen, the squirrel running across the phone line in the back yard, and cumquats.  I only kept her interest by coloring a little bit of green for every little bit of grey she managed to smear on the paper.  I discovered that my daughter has an amazing ability to repeatedly drag a crayon back and forth across the same segment of paper without ever branching off to uncolored sections.  She completed her assignment with a nice rendering of the rare Grey Striped Albino Rhinoceros.

Of my three children, Captain Chaos is the most easily distracted.  She has the shortest attention span.  She also has physical challenges that make holding a pencil or a crayon difficult; consequently, she tires easily.  This causes her to lose her concentration.    I have to be aware of the need to chunk her work into smaller bits so as to not lose her attention.  This is easier to do at home than it would be in a classroom full of children: 24 individual sources of distraction for my daughter.  Our local elementary school wanted to greatly increase the number of hours Captain Chaos spent in school this year.  I politely declined their offer.  She will only attend Speech and Occupational therapies.     It wouldn’t take much time for my daughter to become a major distraction for a classroom teacher and the other students.   Seeing the success that we are having teaching her here at home, I am grateful that we have the freedom to homeschool in our country. 


  1. Yep, I have one of those too.

  2. Kathleen at Treasured Chapters wrote: For goodness' sake, let the child take a break and go into great detail about the cumquat! My Michael is the same - he needs chunks. While I can hand the other older two a list and have them complete it independently, I have to keep the list in my possession and give him one assignment at a time. I even have to sometimes break one assignment into smaller chunks. I'm so grateful to have him at home - if he was in ps, they would surely want him on Ritalin.

  3. My children have the attention spans of gnats. Yet they somehow manage to be insatiable. This often means that by the time I print out a coloring page or get some information on whatever subject they just HAVE TO KNOW ABOUT RIGHT NOW, they are over it. Very frustrating.

  4. The more I know of the Captain, the more I want to meet her...and spend several days just being a fly on the wall. What a girl!!