Story of Joe: A Child Who Is Learning Challenged

How to Use the Variation Essential for Writing

Joe, who is eight-years-old, has been struggling in school for a while, especially with reading and writing. He is considered “learning challenged.”

All his teacher’s effort to get him to write his letters in a more readable fashion and keep the words in an orderly sequential manner on the page didn’t seem to work. So they tried to simplify it for Joe.

He was asked to write only one simple word, rather than full sentences, over and over again, and try to keep the letters between two bold lines. When that failed, squares were drawn on the page, and Joe had to write each individual letter , while trying to keep the letter inside the box. That failed too.

This is the point that I began working with Joe. The very first thing I did, when we focused on writing, was to ask Joe to write the letter “A,” but to write it really badly. (This is the use of the Variation Essential.)

Joe was delighted. He thought for a while, which means he had to have a representation of a correct letter “A” in his mind to figure out how to not do it correctly. And then produced a real bad letter A. Success!

We continued playfully producing numerous variations this way for awhile. Eventually, I drew a square on the page and had Joe select which letter he wanted to write next.

Then I told him: “You can go ahead and write this letter provided one thing, that part of the letter needs to be outside of the box.”

Joe stared at me, with his eyes wide open in total disbelief, and said: “You are kidding me!”

I replied: “No, I’m very serious”.

After thinking for a bit, Joe very carefully wrote the letter part in and part out of the box.

Joe’s mother told me that after our session, Joe spontaneously spent one-and-a-half hours writing words and letters on pages with double-bold lines on them, and that he did it perfectly.

Joe has been completing his writing assignments successfully since this time.

Additional Resources

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Anat Baniel