no. 18 – why you shouldn’t wait for someone else to teach your kid

When I was growing up, I was in constant search of answers, and I loved learning to the point that I was absolutely obnoxious. Everyday, I’d ask my mother why things happened, what things meant or what would happen if “x” occurred. If my questions persisted long enough on any given day, she would literally start to ignore me. This is the point at which I would start to say “mom” twenty times, she would finally say, “What?!” and I would say, “Never mind…” as I cowered behind some nearby piece of furniture.

The year leading up to my first day of kindergarten, it seemed like she had alluded to the fact that “they” were going to teach me to read just about everyday. “They” meaning, the school, not her.

I still remember the first test I ever took – the test to see if I could actually get into kindergarten. I wasn’t sure of what I would be tested on, but I knew one thing; and that was kindergartners learn to read.

So before we headed up to the school that day, I grabbed a sheet of paper and wrote the alphabet on it with crayons because:

  1. I wanted to make sure that if they asked me to recite it or write it down that I would be able to.
  2. I  planned to read over it in the car on the way there ( I did NOT want to sing through the song like a bumbling idiot to figure out what letter came next, and I was even more concerned that by singing it, I might give the teacher the impression that I thought “eliminopee” was an actual letter).

When I arrived, I went through a series of tests mostly related to motor skills. The teacher asked me to play catch with her, and she and I threw a bean bag back and forth. Then, I remember her asking me to touch my thumb to each finger individually in one direction and then backwards, and from what I remember, I did fine; but that’s all I can remember for testing. I think I remember a hearing test, but I can’t be sure…

Afterwards, in the car, I pulled the folded up sheet of paper from my pocket and looked at it. She had not once asked me about the alphabet. I couldn’t believe it. This place was going to teach me to read, and she didn’t even want to know if I could write or recite the alphabet?! Unreal!

Day 1 came, and there I was sitting on a large carpet with 20 other children looking up at the teacher. She had written her name on the board and went on about some business I don’t remember. I raised my hand and waited on her to call on me.

“When are we gonna learn how to read?!” I squealed in excitement.

“Oh, we’re not gonna do that today.” She quickly went back to what she was talking about. No explanation. Nothing!

WHAT?! I thought. I had been set up! I was supposed to be learning to read, and there I was sitting on the magic flying carpet with a bunch of degenerates whom were fine with guessing shapes and colors. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

The bus ride home was a silent one. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. When we reached my stop and the bus doors flew open, I jumped from the steps and ran home balling. Hard. I walked up to my mother completely broken and in tears, sobbing so hard I couldn’t put into words what had happened.

“Katie, what’s wrong?!” she must have asked me a hundred times.

“They didn’t {trying to breathe} Teach me {trying to breathe some more} How to Reeeeeeeeeeead!” {I sobbed even harder}

I was in straight up shambles. I can’t imagine what she must have been thinking looking at her sobbing mess up a kid, destroyed by a teacher putting off a reading lesson. Had my mother simply showed me how to read, a lot of things could have been prevented:

  1. This level 10 meltdown.
  2. 50% of my daily questions.
  3. 50% of “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, mom!!”
  4. 50% of “MooooooooOOOOOOoooooom?!”
  5. Me continually saying, “Look! I can count to 100! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…..”
  6. Me trying to learn about life from gems like this:

And I share this story because I believe there is a lot parents can do to set their children up to be successful in life as long as they participate in the learning.

How to Create a Successful Learner

1. If your child wants to learn, never wait for someone else to teach them, especially if you know it’s within your means to communicate it to them. Calculus? Ok. But reading is fair game.

2. Make sure children know it’s not just okay but also encouraged to ask questions. Children are always learning regardless of what they are formally being taught, and that’s a fire you don’t want to risk extinguishing. Not to mention, when questions are not answered and children are left to their own devices, they come up with any number of half truths. Talk about a confusing world to live in!

3. Recognize accomplishments and honor young learners, but don’t overdo it. I craved this kind of attention, and my parents may have given me $1 for each A on a report card, but good compliments were hard to come by. I ended up getting these compliments from teachers mostly, and this fortunately reinforced my love for learning. But that’s not always how it goes. Praise your child for less than stellar work, and you risk fostering entitlement. It’s a very thin line.

via Daily Prompt: Successful



Author: Kate Hill

Hi, I'm a 31 year old adjunct who writes in my spare time. I live with my girlfriend, her 13 year old daughter and the imaginary dog we keep talking about. I live in my head, and I like cheeseburgers. Did I mention a warm bath is a nice thing to come home to?

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