In addition to any curriculum enrichment (pretesting out of a unit or extension activities once he learned the new information) that occurred for Liam in math, in second grade, he was given the opportunity to tutor first graders in his former first grade teacher’s classroom.
This developed a different aspect of Liam’s personality – what he was like with younger children or those who needed help.
He took on a patience and tenderness that we had never seen before.
Whenever he would work with children, he would talk softly and in a slightly higher, sing-songy voice. It was interesting to see him change something about himself for someone else.
He also spoke more slowly. I sometimes I cannot understand him, simply because of how fast he talks. During tutoring, he seemed to know that he needed to slow down to share new information with these younger friends.
Most importantly, he explained things in a manner that helps the kids. In this one setting, he developed an ability to take someone else’s point of view (Theory of Mind) and explain things so the kids could understand.
We still see this with his two siblings and math. I stopped being able to help with math homework by second grade. Someone will come home with a question in math and I will call out, “Liam, we need help with math.”
Some of Kieran’s math (pre-algebra) is complex. Mea’s homework contains “new math.” Regardless, Liam explains it with the same softer, slower voice, in a way that (almost) makes me able to do this math.
His siblings always get their work done and learn through Liam’s help.
Liam has expanded his “tutoring” to music. He will sit Mea down to explain the rhythm of a piece. Or, he will get his clarinet out and play for Kieran what the song should sound like, so Kieran can hear it in his ear as he practices.
This side of Liam is remarkable and was a gift to both the students and himself (to help him grow socially) when he was a second grader. We were so thankful for this type of enrichment opportunity for him.