Monday, January 12, 2009

Reading and Who Likes Homework?

Ricki, for reasons that are surely a product of my own deficiencies, is allergic to homework. Now I realize that most teens would rather have fun than “hit the books”, and in that Ricki is no exception. However, it is worse than that. When working she tends to turn her back, speak low, or say “I dunno”. All three are efforts to avoid possibly giving the wrong answer.
Now the wonderful teacher she had when she was one year out of school had taught her that it is OK to make mistakes, they happen and are not a crime. But somewhere along the line, she received from someone a different message, and Ricki has become very defensive.
So one of my big goals for this school year is to return to Ricki a love of learning. First, I try to set her up for success, by warning her before reading some text, what the questions are going to be. This has proven to be a very good technique. In addition, the mottos “try, try, and in the end you will succeed” and “”It’s permitted to make mistakes” have returned to frequent usage in our house. I also point out when I myself make a mistake, give a laugh, and say I will try again. And like a big heap of snow on a roof (in Colorado, not here!) on a sunny winter’s day, I see a bit of thawing. That’s how I view Ricki’s reawakening to the fun of learning.
Sometimes she comes up with the most interesting and amazing questions about things around her. I always praise her for asking any questions, it is a sign of interest in the world, and a willingness to admit that she doesn’t know something yet.
However, despite all this, Ricki has a tendency to be bashful about reading. She tends to read very quickly when it is for me, leading to missed words. And the fast pace doesn’t let her think about WHAT she is reading. But the other day I got a very good view of exactly how well she CAN read. I overheard her reading a story to her imaginary friends. Listening from behind a corner, I heard not only clear words, at a normal pace…. But I could discern from her intonation that she understood exactly what she was reading. It was a real “naches” moment for me.
(“Naches” is a Yiddish word, not very translatable, but its how you feel when your kid gets straight A’s, hits a home run, etc.)

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