As I was walking my son to school this morning I found myself chatting to one of his young classmates about how excellent their reading is and how they are coming on in leaps and bounds now they are in Year 1.
My son loves reading. It makes me so proud when he asks if he can read his latest school book to me and puts so much effort into making the spoken word come to life, adding emphasis on sentences with exclamation marks at the end.
It must be so liberating when you learn how to read. That explosion of suddenly being able to understand the world around you, of being able to read signs, billboards (not always a good thing) and sit and take in a book all on your own.
So I’m chatting away to this bright little 6-year-old and he says “but Charlie isn’t doing so well. He’s only on yellow” (their reading books are split in to colours and they progress up the colour chart).
“Oh dear,” I say, “well maybe he’s just taking a bit longer to take it all in,” I offer.
“No,” he announces all matter of fact, “Charlie says it’s because his mummy won’t read with him at night.”
I don’t know why, but it really upset me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since.
I know there are hot debates over whether to send your child to school or to dive into homeschooling.
I have read some bloggers who do an amazing job of giving their charges a well rounded education from home. Amazing stuff.
School is exactly the right place for my son. He is very sociable and thrives in a group environment. And he has positively blossomed in the classroom.
However, that doesn’t mean his schooling ends when the school day finishes.
I want him to grow up in an environment where learning is seen as fun.
Grubbing around in the back garden can be a lesson in maths, or biology or just the wonder of discovering new things.
Baking cakes teaches weights and measurements, how to measure time, how to read recipes.
Even collecting football cards can offer valuable lessons in life.
I hold my hands up and admit I don’t always do near enough with my two. Or nearly enough as I would like to.
But at the bare minimum, I try to teach them that the world is a wonderful, wondrous place if they just take the time to learn about it.
Our big thing is reading. We read a lot. We read stories old and new, we read Atlases, picture dictionaries, children’s Bible, fabulous books which show how the human body works, books about sharks, books about dinosaurs, magazines.
I loved school when I was growing up. I loved maths, I love physics (it’s all right, I can hear you groaning there in the background), I adored English literature lessons and I found learning, well, a gas.
And now my son is all wide-eyed and amazed at things like how our heart works, how caterpillars transform into butterflies, how the planets are configured.
And it actually makes me feel young again. Like I’m learning it all again through young eyes.
The wife of one of my favourite American bloggers, Writer Dad, has launched a new site devoted to just that.
Cindy Platt has been a teacher for years and is passionate about it. I’ll say that again because it’s important: She is passionate about it.
She aims to help all parents: “You do not need a teaching credential to enrich your child’s life” she says and I couldn’t agree more.
And she ends her ‘about’ page with the words: ‘Our children will write the future, I want the confidence mine will do it well’.
Me too Cindy, me too.