The Slate is Clean! by Kristen Eckenwiler
The new year has begun! For some, it came way too soon. Others have been so ready for schedules and organization that they welcomed it with open arms. As you step in and embrace this new school year, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to reading instruction.
“His mercies are new every day.” Keep this in mind since your mind is powerful enough to remind you of all of your failures. You know the ones . . .
- That day you promised yourself and God that you would not, under any circumstance, lose your temper—but you did.
- The day that you said through clenched teeth, “We just read that word! Right here!” And you stabbed the paper one sentence prior to your current line.
- The day that you asked your child, “What is wrong with you?”
- The day your child cried because he couldn’t do it—and then you cried.
Being a mom is not easy. It is one of the most bittersweet relationships known to man. Being a mom-teacher has its own unique challenges. Our children are so forgiving, but we should never underestimate the power we have to frighten them. We frighten them when they think we are disappointed or angry. Often, they can do what you are asking, but they are afraid to try for fear of getting it wrong. Even more profound is that they often cannot distinguish if they are upsetting their teacher—or their mom. No child wants to compromise his mom’s love!
Try to be honest with your reading instruction. It is not a competition or a race. If your fourth grader is still reading at the second grade level, then teach at second grade level and move at a pace that seems comfortable. They will get it, and they will make up ground. You do not have to have them on level by Christmas. If you try, you will create too much stress and the bar you have set will feel unattainable to you—and too hard for your child. Let your child dictate the pace and take a deep breath. You are not ruining your child. You are teaching to them directly, with expectations for this child alone.
Please hear my heart here and avoid resentment and anger between you and your child. Reading is very important. It is. There are some days when it appears you will never get there, and you just love them too much to see them fail. But there are things that trump reading instruction, and one is the relationship you have with your child. There are other important lessons that you will be called to teach your children, and if you allow reading challenges and instruction to weaken your relationship and their ability to hear and heed you, they won’t receive instruction on the other lessons you need to teach them. Guard the love and trust your child has for you. Know your limit. Pray for warning signs. When you feel yourself losing patience, have something in place that allows you to STOP. Stop immediately. Say, “Wow! Mommy needs to stretch. Five-minute break!” Then smile and walk away. Break your instruction into five ten-minute lessons throughout the day. Dragging it out to get fifty minutes in can be too much. Work in a way that is smart for that child, and remember they will all learn differently.
Make this the year you win by making sure your children know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are on their side, in their corner, their biggest cheerleader and support. That makes you both winners.
Happy Clean Slate Day! Keep reading!