"I thought this was a story, Dad." That is what my son said last night as I read him his bed time story, "Circle Dogs" by Kevin Henkes. The tale is simpler than Henkes' usual books that focus preschoolers' emotional development ("Chrysanthemum," "Owen".) This one
just talks about the daily lives of two dachshunds. My son balked at
the way I was reading because I was just so excited about his emerging
reading skills that I tried to get him to read the word "up". Just this
year he started to sound out words, even though he knew all the letter
sounds last year.
But he could tell I was trying to teach and he wasn't having it.
Neither of my children have allowed me to teach them in the topic I
consider my specialty: early literacy. Well, actually I have taught
them, but not while they were paying attention. I taught them when I
used big words and explained the meanings to them, pointed out
environmental print, and sang alphabet songs when they were younger.
What they wouldn't let me do is "direct teach
" them anything.
So last night, when I wanted my son to sound out one of the
easiest words in the English language after he had already read "dog",
he wasn't having it. This brings me to my point, how we teach out own
children - and our students - affects how they approach learning. My
son considers the job of learning to read a "school" job right now. He
wants to love reading and keep our stories about us and so, he rejects
my trying to turn a moment of emotional connection into an academic
lesson. At school though, he is making huge strides. He doesn't like
the homework he has to do very much, but he likes the responsibility of
having to do it. It is teaching him a little about having to do things
we don't want to do efficiently and with integrity. Knowing when as
well as how to push out kids is almost as important as knowing when not
to. How do you teach without teaching, and when do you put it aside.