10 March 2013

Kids who love to learn

Last week I circulated a parenting tip sheet from Michael Grose's parenting website called The Pitfall of Using Other Children as Benchmarks.  If you didn't see it, check your Inbox.  It's a great read.

Parent Teacher Student Conferences are on the horizon at Peregian Springs State School. Class teachers will meet with parents and students during the last two weeks of Term 1 to share the learning progress your child has made throughout the term. This is meant to be a celebratory time focused on your child and your child only. It's a time to celebrate how far they have come in relation to their own developmental clocks (and not in relation to how far other children have travelled).

Parent Teacher Student Conferences can be a tense time. Parents sometimes worry about whether their child has learned as much as another child, whether they are on the same reading level as last year, whether a friend's son is faster at their number facts, and even whether their child is as fast a runner as the neighbour's daughter. The fact is that all humans are stretched along a developmental scale and worrying about whether someone is further along the scale than your child tends to lead to anxiety and tension.

As parents, we want our kids to be the best they can be - and this is the trick. We need to think of the difference between being the best they can be, and being better than everyone else. The messages we send our children either directly or unconsciously tells them which we think is more important.

If you want your child to concentrate on their own learning and recognise their movement along the developmental scale then our language must focus on their growth - and not on the growth of other children. A comment such as 'Your reading is much more fluent now than it was a few months ago' is a much better measure of progress than 'You are the best reader in the class!'  Or 'Look at these big numbers you can partition now compared to the small numbers you were working with last year' sends a better message about the learning we are looking for than 'You know more number facts than anyone else in Year 2!'

No matter where your child is on the developmental scale he or she will have taken some steps along it in at least one area and probably many more. Focusing on these will make Parent Teacher Student Conferences a celebration and will go a long way to ensuring your child maintains their love of the learning process. Kids who love to learn will continue to be learners.

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