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Virtual Child Paper

Heidi Orman

EDUC 121

Ivy Tech Community College

March 24, 2016


Virtual Child Paper

For my Virtual child assignment, the computer program gave me a son. My son James

was born a week early, and he came fast, I almost did not make it to the hospital. When James

was 3 months old, I started working, and we put him in a high-quality care center, so I did not

have to worry about teacher burn out or someone being sick. I breast fed him and supplemented

with formula from day one. I also let him be the guide for me on everything. When James was 8

months old, my partner lost his job, and did not get another one until four months later. James’

development, was at first, all over the place.

At his 9-month checkup, he was completely normal except he was out going, and his

motor skills were a little behind. When James was 1 year old, he said his first word, which was

“dog”. James also started walking at this time. He mastered the object permanence test at the

right time. By the age of fifteen months, James was a little scientist, and liked to do

“experiments.” At eighteen months old, he learned a couple of words in Spanish from a

neighbor child, and I switched him to a high-quality home daycare for children 18-36 months

old, so he could get more one-on-one attention.

At his nineteen-month checkup, James was not very aggressive with other children,

unless they took one of his toys; he had a strong attachment to me; he made good eye contact,

seemed at ease, was cheerful and was rarely tense or emotional during the observation. James

was above average in all aspects of language development; memory was pretty good; and he was

above age-norms for building a block tower to model one made by the examiner and other spatial

skills. James was about average for gross motor development and was able to concentrate on

activities for 10-15 minutes, which was age-appropriate.


By age two, James was potty trained, and rarely had accidents, and I thought at this time

that he was ready for preschool. I got pregnant again at this time. I choose a high-quality

preschool program that provides academic acceleration with both morning and evening options

and had him tested again at two and a half years old. This time James was normal except that he

became possessive of his toys, and pushed and bit a child, and his problem-solving skills were

excellent. James scored in the above average range on tests of language comprehension and

production and provided unusually complete and grammatically mature sentences in a

conversation the examiner and he had about a picture. James is about average in solving

problems with more than two steps and grouping objects together in categories. He is above

average in copying shapes with a pencil, working with picture puzzles and constructing things

out of blocks and seemed to enjoy working with these things a great deal. James' gross motor

skills were typical for his age and varied from slightly below average (climbing) to slightly

above average (throwing and catching a ball). James was able to focus on the tasks posed by the

examiner, but his attention began to wander after about 20 minutes.

Maggie, my second child was born when James was three years old. James loved his little

sister and liked to play with her. I had some problems with James, at this time, which are normal

with a new sibling. James regressed a little bit, he sometimes seemed to be regressing and

becoming more demanding and whiny, and less cooperative, but other times prided himself on

being a competent older sibling. We put the crib in James’ room until we moved into a better

house, where I put Maggie in daycare, and James started a new preschool. During that summer, I

had him tested again. James was cooperative and friendly, and able to focus well on tasks, but

somewhat anxious and unsure of himself in novel social situations. James was a bit clingy with

the teacher, and reluctant to join in preschool activities, but after sufficient encouragement,

would join in. James seemed to have one or two little friends in the preschool and played

cooperatively and non-aggressively with them. He scored above average on language

comprehension and production tests. For example, he was able to tell a detailed and coherent

story about a picture. James was in the average range in terms of understanding quantitative

relationships, in counting skills, in classifying objects, and in solving age-appropriate reasoning

tasks. He performed above average in copying designs, solving picture puzzles, and building

block towers to match someone else’s. James' gross motor skills were within the average range. I

also filled out a parenting questionnaire, and it said that I was currently somewhat above average

in warmth and affection shared with James, and currently about average in the discipline and


I had James go to a summer prep session for kindergarten, and I enrolled him in school at

the age of 4 years, 10 months. He was assessed by the teacher, and she said that James was doing

well with the peer group. He made several little friends in the kindergarten prep session. He

could read a few short words and write his name and could name most of the letters on sight at

the time of testing. He also showed an age-appropriate understanding of phonological awareness.

The teacher noted that James had only a few small difficulties adapting to the "practice"

kindergarten activities the children were asked to do. James was initially shy and reluctant to

engage in the kindergarten activities, but after watching a bit, joined in and was generally

cooperative and eager to please the teachers. James generally worked on his own but became

somewhat nervous and dependent on the teachers when mild stress occurred. He performed

above average on tests of vocabulary, and the ability to retell a story. James' language skills

seemed to be more than ready for the beginning of kindergarten. James had age-appropriate

skills in counting, classifying and understanding quantitative relationships. James had a real

knack for the art projects the teachers had the students do, and really got interested in the pre-

math activities involving working with blocks and geometric shapes. On the parenting

questionnaire I ranked in the top 15% in terms of affection and warmth displayed toward James,

and slightly above average in terms of discipline and control.

James's first official day of school was exciting and a bit stressful. So, it was normal, at

the end of the day, James said, "My teacher is nice." When James turned 6, he was pretty good at

learning the words of songs in school and had a decent voice. I asked him if he would like voice

or piano lessons, but he was not very enthusiastic. However, James started to learn how to play

the electronic keyboard at home, following the simplified musical notation in a little book. James

had night terrors at this time. I signed James up for bilingual class. One day James told me that I

am "nicer" to him than other parents are to their kids, and I have more "rules" than other kids'

parents. I was surprised that James was aware of how other parents behave. James' first grade

report card stated that James was kind and corporative. James was good at reading, writing,

speaking, listening, social studies, science, spatial understanding, and visual arts. He was normal

in mathematical problem solving, understanding of data and number concepts. James was usually

appropriately active during recess and physical games, and appropriately quiet during periods of

work in the classroom setting. He did not show an unusual amount of impulsive or distractible

behavior. Usually he worked independently, listening attentively and following directions, and

usually followed classroom rules. In the comments section the teacher wrote: “Sometimes James

over-reacts to stressful situations and can become anxious, moody or slightly depressed. With

encouragement, he usually seems to come out of it before the day ends.” When James was 8

years old, I had to call and tell one of James’ friend’s parents that James would not be able to

come back over because they let him watch an R rated movie. I started teaching James about

eating healthy, and we got a puppy.

At age 8, I had James tested by a psychologist. James was average to above average

range in word reading, reading fluency, phonological awareness and spelling. He was friendly to

the examiner and remained calm and cheerful during the IQ and achievement tests even when

some of the questions became difficult and frustrating. These were some of James' scores on the

Verbal portion of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (where 7 is one standard deviation

below the mean, 10 is the mean and 13 is one standard deviation above the mean): Information

(15), Vocabulary (17), Similarities (16), Comprehension (16). The psychologist said these scores

were in the gifted range. James' scores on the math concepts, math application problems, and

math computation tests were in the average range. James' scores on tests of visual-spatial ability

(spatial rotation, copying of designs, etc.) were well above average, and the examiner

recommended that I seek out drawing, design and building experiences for James, depending on

interest level. The psychologist interviewed me using a standard set of questions about parenting

attitudes. According to my scores, I was in the top 15% in warmth and affection toward James.

My scores on the parenting questionnaire indicated that I was in the top 15% in discipline and

control toward James.

James was a normal ten-year-old. James’ 5th grade report card stated that James did

above average in all areas of reading, spelling, speaking, listening, social studies, science, and

art. James was "appropriate for grade level" in writing, mathematical problem solving,

understanding of data, number concepts, graphical applications, arithmetic computation, and

music. In the comments section the teacher wrote: “Occasionally James gets upset during

stressful situations inside or outside the classroom, but usually is able to bounce back quickly.

He usually works independently, listens attentively and follows directions, and consistently

follows classroom rules.”

When James was 12 years old, I got a chance to make a business trip to Montreal, so I got

passports for James and me to go on a Canadian adventure. Maggie was too young for this trip

and got cared for at home. James pointed out some of the differences in everyday things, such as

food packages in the markets, signs in both English and French, and other subtle cultural

differences. He said he wanted to learn French. James' oral reading, decoding, reading

comprehension, spelling and writing skills were above his grade level, and he was busy writing

stories and experiences down into his journal. I encouraged any reading interests and provided

praise and helpful feedback for James' writing efforts. My partner and I had separated, and James

got braces. I got his 7th grade report card early in the summer. It sated that James’s word

reading, spelling and writing skills were strong. He got A's in the gifted and talented English-

Social Studies core course and in Spanish. The teacher commented that James was becoming

very good at analyzing literature and was quite a good writer as well. He got a B in both 7th

grade Math and Science. When he took art, and he got an A. The art teacher wrote a note

attached to the report card that said this was a real area of strength for James. He listened

attentively, followed directions, and followed school rules. He was quite effective at time

management, and highly consistent in working independently in the classroom and on

homework. He had almost no problems completing assignments and turning them in on time.

James started his rebellion period at the age of 14 and started hanging out with

skateboarders. James made the high school swim and water polo teams. He started taking a

computer graphics class, and he received good grades on his progress report. My partner and I

got back together after on and off separations over the previous two years, and after going

through a few weeks of couple’s therapy. We started getting along better and had a new sense of

maturity in the relationship. I am not sure how much of an effect the separation had on the kids.

James sometimes would blame himself for the separation. He seemed less cheerful than usual

and was arguing more with us. But, thankfully, he was not having problems with the peers at

school and was still doing well in his classes. Over the summer, James had been less cooperative

with my requests and was spending more and more time with friends. Sometimes I was able to

shuttle James and his friends around, but it was not always possible for either parent to monitor

James because of our jobs. I let him go but required that he always be reachable by cell phone;

and if he was not available; did not follow either parent's instructions about being home at a

certain time; or lies about where he had been; he would get grounded. James received good

marks for citizenship that year from most of his teachers.

James got A's in Spanish I, English Honors and World Geography. The English and

Spanish teachers both commented "a pleasure to have in class." He received A's in both Algebra

I and Biology and was rated as "a pleasure to have in class" for both subjects. Because of these

grades, James was eligible for Honors Geometry and Chemistry in 10th grade. He received A's in

his fine arts classes that year and a comment that his work was very creative. He earned a B in

music this year and did not seem too interested in taking music classes next year.

When James turned 16, we adopted another dog. When he got his license, the driver

training instructor reported that James was a conscientious driver. He never went over the speed

limit, always came to complete stops, and was very alert while driving on the freeway. I took a

45-min. commute job to save money for James’ college. James had a small accident accident and

I revoked his driving privileges for two months and made him fill out the forms and pay the

deductible. I signed James up for SAT ACT prep courses. He got a part-time job, working at a

local grocery store. I required him to save half of his earnings for college. James got matching

tattoos with his girlfriend, luckily it was small and in an inconspicuous place.

Here are some highlights from James's 11th grade report card. James received good

marks for citizenship from several teachers, indicating that James contributed often to the class.

James was able to take Honors English and American History based on his 10th grade record and

got A's and commendations from the teachers for both. He also got an A in Spanish II and

planned to take AP Spanish, English and World History in 12th grade. He received A's in both

Algebra II and Physics. Because of these grades, James was eligible for AP Physics and

Chemistry in 12th grade. He received A's in his fine arts classes this past year and a notation

"Pleasure to have in class" from the Painting and Photography teachers. On the teachers'

recommendations, James has entered one painting and several photographs in a county-wide art

fair. He got a B in his music classes that year and seemed to enjoy his classes, learning a lot.

James received his test scores on the ACT and SAT at the age of 17. He scored in the top 5-10%

on all verbal subtests and the top 15% on all math and science tests. I was extremely excited for

James and begin to help him research colleges and prepare applications. James signed up for a

Psychology class the first semester of his senior year. He really enjoyed the class and talked

about it often with me. James jokes that he is always acting as a therapist to one friend or


High school was over, and I was pleased to learn earlier in the year that James got into

several colleges, including a couple of very selective institutions, primarily on the strength of his

grades and scores on the SAT. James got financial aid from one of his top choices, but I needed

to discuss the family finances before proceeding. James sent in samples of his works in the

spring and was accepted into an art-design school. He planned to go there in the fall, instead of

pursuing other plans. He had a summer job to save up money. As James headed into his next set

of adventures, I reflected on my relationship with him at this point in both of our lives. I have

managed to be an excellent parent in terms of both discipline and warmth. James is very close to

both parents now, but of the two, he is closer to me. He seeks out my advice on important issues

or questions that are a bit beyond his experience.

How I made decisions was that I pictured what I would really do with my child and did

that. I also based my decisions on a logic stand point, it is not logical to let your child get away

with crashing the car. If your child has already mastered something, do not keep teaching that

thing, go on to the next skill. I made the decisions because that was what my child needed. I

think my actions helped James when he got older to make sure his grades did not drop, or to not

give up on his hobbies, like how he liked to draw. When it was time to go to college he went to

an art-design school. The positive aspects of parenthood were watching James grow into a very

well-mannered man. The only negative thing that happened was James’ small accident, and his

small tattoo. I did not really think about the concepts from the Kail book, but I guess that it

helped me understand a little about the teenage years.