Once a pon a time their was a boy who had no friends so he was always alon But then one day every thing change His mom gave him a violin to play it sounded horabel so he said he said I am never playing this agin so then one Day he went in the store and heard a guy play the vialin it sonded awesome so he said to his mom that’s how I want to play well then you need to pratis and then he did and he was so good at it.
This is a story written by a 10 year old boy named Grant. It is written to a psychological test card that shows a boy looking at a violin. How the character manages the violin and resolves playing the violin in the story created by the child, often reveals the child’s underlying feelings about achievement and self-worth. This story is written exactly as Grant wrote it.
After working with the Grant, I was struck how much the story was a true x-ray of how he was feeling. While Grant intuitively understands he is not measuring up, he is still optimistic, as the story suggests. In reality, others around Grant are easily reading chapter books, while he is struggling at much lower reading levels. Grant is also struggling with writing, and he is starting to feel the pressure of teachers and parents talking about meeting "The Common Core State Standards," something that Grant has no idea what that means, but is nonetheless increasing his anxiety.
Grant is also starting to sense that others are snickering at him and he is feeling increasingly embarrassed.
Grant needs to learn how to write in structured, systematic ways, so that he can begin to understand how to write a sentence and use basic punctuation. Insisting that Grant respond to open-ended writing prompts will likely leave him feeling frustrated and unable to know how to proceed.
The appropriate work for Grant will take a great deal of time and focused practice at the sentence level. Once Grant can master the writing of simple sentences, he can move on to sentences that are more complex. Perhaps, then, he can start to work on a simple paragraph and practice writing paragraphs for while, before moving on to more involved essays.
Grant also is in need of connection and to believe in himself more.
So, if your child is metaphorically screeching on the violin, try and find people who understand the nature of the remedial work needed and who can reach the child at both the skill level and the emotional level. This is what happens with good learning therapy.
After a while there may be less screeching and better sounds coming from the "violin."
(Adapted from "School Struggles," Richard Selznick, Ph.D. Sentient Publications 2012)