I wrote a post last week that seemed to really resonate with a lot of fellow parents in particular about standing up for our kids’ best interests. It seems to me that maybe we are timid to do so, because we worry about stepping on toes or being seen as the person rocking the boat unnecessarily.
It’s understandable to feel concerned. But it’s more important that we act out of our children’s needs than out of fear. Because while we do make some errors in pursuing the former, pursuing the latter is always skewed.
This is a lesson I learned when I attempted do do preschool with my iron-willed daughter. I had always had the notion that it would be no problem for me to teach her preschool since, after all, I am a teacher!
She had other ideas.
No matter how engaging, when I’d pull out the magnetic letters for some letter-play, she’d start deliberately naming the wrong ones (without looking).
No matter how beautifully, Montessori-ly laid out, when I’d share a science investigation with her, she would want nothing to do with it.
Like some kind of academic bloodhound, she had developed an acute sense of me in teacher-mode. And she wanted no part in that, thank-you-very-much.
Eventually, I came to realize what she had surely known all along — that me in teacher-mode = me in stressed, let’s-not-fall-behind-the-other-4-year-olds mode.
So I learned to let go. I followed her lead. I continued to provide invitations and environments that were as conducive to learning as possible, but ultimately, I let her decide when she was ready.
She taught me that when in doubt, we go with the child.
And you know what? Here we are 3 years later, in 2nd grade, and she. is. thriving. Both academically and as a person. She understands that carrots and sticks are not what make good writers, readers, mathematicians, scientists, and people. It’s what’s within, and whether we’re willing to take risks, try again, fail, and grow.
In fact, we actually had another conversation about yet another home reading program (this time, the reward was pizza restaurant certificates). I told her about it, and she simply asked, “Can we say no?”
I want to end today’s post with a message from Seth Godin. As he says, “If it’s work, they try to figure out how to do less, and if it’s art, they try to figure out how to do more.” To my daughter, all of her learning is still an art; I am willing to do what it takes to preserve her beautiful “do more” mindset. Isn’t that the ideal learner, anyway?
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto