“She’s too smart not to know…”
There was no greater, disheartening news, than those very words. I found myself sitting at lunch trying to hide the disappointment that I knew had coated my face and trying to remove it from my voice, so I could continue to sound upbeat. According to Ms. Graves, my daughter’s assessment proved that she didn’t have a clue about letters outside of singing them in the alphabet.
Almost immediately, I wanted to protest. Maybe my daughter was being shy or unfocused and playing around. She’s able to identify the letters in her name, although we do have some issues with getting her to stop calling “I,” “T.” But outside of that, she knows that “S” is what her name starts with and she writes her name with ease nowadays. So how is she isn’t able to recognize letters or identify their sound?
I had to take an immediate step back and check the accusations that were running wild in my head.
Education has always been the centerfold of my family. Having found a school that actually prides itself on its educational value and creating young people who are much more advanced in their basic education than those attending other schools, I mean their kindergarteners are testing at a second grade level, I had jumped for joy. This was the ideal school for my daughter. It would push and encourage her to excel academically. It would have her learning at a pace that my parents had us working at, which was essentially getting us workbooks for a year ahead of us and making us work through it rather than spending hours watching TV.
I found myself suddenly having to grapple with the fact that my daughter wasn’t up to par. That she was no more smarter than her current peers and that she potentially might be less smarter than them.
The only silver lining in the conversation yesterday was Ms. Graves informing me that my daughter is eager to learn and is unashamed to get an answer wrong, if it means she will eventually get the right answer. That determination was enough for me. My daughter could learn and I could teach her.
As I walked through the front door of my house, my mom immediately accosted me, asking me for my Paypal information because she wanted to get my daughter ABCMouse. I had watched the commercials for it, at least a thousand times, each time with no more irritation than the first time I viewed it. It was yet another promise of helping parents produce educated children without having to do so much as a lift a finger to do so. And while I can admit, I am one of those parents who runs off and buy educational toys in the hopes of my daughter figuring it out without having to sit down and do it with her, I’m a busy woman, that phone call reminded me that the only way to truly teach your kids the fundamentals is to not isolate them and subject them to learning it on their own.
If I want my daughter to learn her letters and the sounds, I have to roll my sleeves up and clear my schedule and teach her. While these programs and products are great, they can’t do what it is I can do if I just took the time to do it with her. Which is reinforce the concepts and lessons she has learned and encourage her to continue learning them. I mean, I haven’t exactly enforced her usage of reading with the Leapfrog Tag Reading system any more than I have with any of the numerous educational toys I’ve gotten her. I also haven’t sat down and engaged in them with her.
So I won’t be disheartened about my daughter’s less than stellar assessment. Instead, I’ll just work on doing my part and being active in teaching her what it is she needs to learn.
“She’s too smart not to know…”