I just had a wonderful conversation with my son. Today I brought home a number of books and resources that I was looking over at the kitchen table. One of these was Lisa Whelchel's book "Creative Correction." I have seen this book at the book store on several occasions and thought it was a book for people with younger children, but I have been listening to a podcast (Family From The Heart http://gspn.tv/category/family-from-the-heart/) that reviewed the book and just from the examples shared there, I realized this book would be a wonderful resource for me as a parent. Ethan has listened to some of those podcasts with me and was very interested in the book. So at dinner, I was reading him the names of the chapters and some of the example stories. He wanted more and more and was frustrated with me when I would not read any more to him.
"I need time to prepare these lessons for you." I said. This did not satisfy him and he continued to clamor (whine) for more. Just open up the book and read, was his recommendation. "Do you think your teachers at school just show up every day and do you think that they just open up the book and teach you something that they have never seen before that day?" He was very queit and had to think about it... I saw he needed more to grasp the concept. "Do you think Mrs. M. just came up with the idea of challenging you to earn a "Fun Friday" one day and announced it that day in cla$ss with no preparation?" He told me, no, she had Fun Friday with her class last year, he knew becuase he was in the class next door and heard them, and her class had been very noisy on 'Fun Fridays.' "How much fun do you think 'Fun Friday' would be if Mrs. M. didn't plan ahead?" I asked. "If she looked at the chart and said, 'Oh goodness you have earned a fun Friday, whatever shall we do, today? I don't have any games or activities for you to do'" This idea made him giggle. He told me that she plans ahead. That she is very experienced with Fun Fridays and has the students bring games.... I had him, he was on his way to grasping this. "I am teaching you too. And the things I teach you are important and wonderful, and just like Mrs. M. I plan and I prepare for the things that I teach you...." as I took him upstairs to prepare for bed, we continued to talk along this subject.
After I prayed with him... he said it was too bad I wasn't a teacher because then he could stay home with me all day and I could teach him everything. I told him that more time together would be wonderful, but that I am not a specialist in teaching children to read like his teachers are. I asked him what his teachers are preparing him for? "TAKS!" was his emphatic reply. I explained that his teachers are preparing him for a test, but that I am preparing him for life. That we have different methods of teaching because we have very different goals. He was all attention...
I explained that his teachers have special training, that they are experts in how to teach him reading, and math... I specifically used the example of his speech teacher and how she knows special ways to help him to learn things. I gave an inept example of how I could make him repeat the word "Lion" over and over again, but that wouldn't help him to learn to say his "L's" (this is something he has improved in a lot over the last year - an area where I have been praising him for his improvement.) He laughed at my example.
"But you know what?" I said. "Because your teachers are teaching you reading and math and social studies, those basic academic skills.... It leaves me time for us to have FUN and leaves me FREE to concentrate on the things I most WANT to teach you - the things that are important to me... the things that I wouldn't trust anyone else to teach you. Things that are special and part of our family and who we are.
The conversation went along on both sides for quite awhile and I could tell that he was feeling loved, and valued and cherished... That he was excited to think about the things I teach him as important and valuable lessons... as part of our family identity. And that the concept of my thoughtful preparation was wholly new to him.
It was really wonderful. I am sure tomorrow the spell will be broken, after all he is a child... but what a wonderful time of connection, or family identity and pride we were able to share. Times like this are encouraging... they make me feel like we're going to make it. They remind me why I strive through the hard times... out of hope for times like these...