I have just spent an enjoyable hour reading – and crying – over a small set of books. They cost me a few dollars each (in Kindle version) and were quick reads but they touched my heart. I Initially I thought “I can’t wait to read these to my kids” but on reflection I think they have their value in touching my heart regardless of a lesson for my kids.
The series is “The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses”
In these stories I read of kids who struggled to fit the regular expectations in class, and before any homeschoolers stop reading, thinking that classroom stuff doesn’t apply, keep on reading ‘cause we do unconsciously have the same expectations. We expect our kids to know their math facts and recall them quickly, we expect neat handwriting, we expect kids to pay attention and learn from the information we give them. We get frustrated and disappointed and at our wits end, just like these teachers did. And our kids react the same too – a sense of failure and hopelessness, a loss of motivation to learn.
Each story paints the struggles of a child to fit the normal classroom expectation (learning expectation), my heart cried as the teacher seemed to be missing the point (and I cried because I knew I had missed the point sometimes too). Each story comes to an end with a positive conclusion – where stereotypes are broken, and the student, parents, or teacher steps outside of the box and finds solutions.
We tend to think of geniuses as people who are outstanding – above and beyond the norm. I get encouragement from these books, not because my kids could be geniuses in that sense… but their learning abilities may well be hidden beneath the expectations and practices of the norm. These books inspire me to face each of my children regardless of any possible labels to reach for their potential – to step outside of the stereotypical way of teaching and help my child connect with the world around them.
At the end of each book there was this letter (which I read each time) and I’d like to share it here:
Fear is the great disabler. Fear is what keeps children from realizing their potential. It needs to be replaced with a feeling of I-know-I-can-make-progress-if-I-keep-trying-and-boy-do-I-ever-want-to-do-that!
One of the great goals of parents, teachers, and coaches should be to find areas in which a child might experience mastery, then make it possible for the child to feel this potent sensation.
The feeling of mastery transforms a child from a reluctant, fearful learner into a self-motivated player.
The mistake that parents, teachers, and coaches often make is that they demand mastery rather than lead children to it by helping them overcome the fear of failure.
The best parents are great teachers. My definition of a great teacher is a person who can lead another person to mastery.
By Dr Edward Hallowell,
New York Times national best seller, former Harvard Medical School instructor, and current director of the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health.
Is this my attitude towards my kids when I plan their learning experiences? I think we start off wanting to encourage our kids’ uniqueness, and somewhere along the line it gets lost in the pressures of keeping up with curriculum, of balancing all our to-do lists, of subtle pressure to keep up with what we are told schools are doing.
Each of our kids are unique – how are we encouraging them to succeed? I saw a quote on a Google search “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” and though I am cautious of telling my child they can do anything in the whole wide world such a question could truly reveal a heart’s desire.
Further reading on my website: What is success?