As part of an assessment I always ask kids to write their name and address. Lately, I’ve been noticing a troubling trend.
Increasingly, kids look at me blankly when it comes to the address part. They don’t know where they live.
Look, I understand that for kids with learning disabilities remembering how to spell certain street names can be challenging, but even when asked to tell where they live without writing it down, they are often confused.
What I also have found out is they often don’t know what the word “address” means, so I rephrase it while they are looking at me – “You know, write down where you live.” (The rephrased prompting often doesn’t help. The blank stare remains.)
We are all relying on technology to a degree that may not be serving us very well. There was a time when I probably knew over 25 phone numbers without looking them up in my address book (remember those?). Now, I don’t even know my wife’s or kid’s telephone numbers, so I can’t be pointing a finger with too much superiority without a reminder of hypocrisy.
For kids with learning problems, you may need to practice much more to obtain mastery for something like learning your address, but that’s the nature of things. Patient practice and repetition usually helps; perhaps singing the address in some kind of song would also work.
Along with knowing one’s address there are some other fundamental skills that are probably worth practicing and acquiring.
For example, a friend of mine had her three sons mastering the skill of making their lunch by the age of 8. Each night she had the three boys making their lunches. Over time with practice and lots of parental patience, they got pretty good at it.
Practicing concepts of time and money are pretty essential and also tough for kids with learning issues. You will need extra patience to reach some level of mastery.
Dare I say learning to do the laundry and making one’s bed at a young age are probably pretty good skills to acquire. I know that my own parents never held my “feet to fire” in mastering these skills (among many others), and looking back on it I think it was a mistake.
So, as we’re calling out to Siri, Alexa or “Ok Google,” and our kids are watching us in our own screen-technology obsessions, you might want to pause and consider what’s being gained, but also what’s being lost.
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