Friday, March 27, 2009

The Teacher in me

People always told me that my education in teaching would come in so handy as a mother. But so far my ability to teach fractions didn't help me teach my babies how to breastfeed nor did my knowledge of balanced literacy aid me in potty-training Blaine.

I know, I know. When they are a little older, I will use it more. I'll teach them how to read with better strategies than "just sound it out," and I'll even be able to pull from my classroom archives for fun art projects, holiday games, and science projects.

But lately I've been feeling like a loser because I don't teach Blaine enough. And even though I'm trying to be better about doing something fun with him each day (like an outing or a craft or a game), I still find myself letting the Super Readers teach him his letters more often than I should. (Not that I don't endorse PBS, becasue I totally do. But those shows should reinforce him what I teach, and not the other way around.)

And yesterday I realized that I don't have to wait until my children are older to be teaching them more pro-actively. I realized that--just like when I was teaching-- all it takes is a little planning and preparation. (Duh.)

So today I scribbled down some fun lessons and activities on strips of paper and stuffed them into plastic eggs. Every day from now until Easter, Blaine will get to choose 2 or 3 eggs and we'll do whatever they say. (Anything from "eat a chocolate egg" to "paint a picture of a bunny" to "practice your letters with your alphabet magnets." Oh, and since the teachings of Jesus are some of the most important things I feel I should be imparting upon my children, a lot of them say things like "act out the story of Daniel in the Lions' Den," and "Learn about Jesus's resurrection.")

Obviously this is nothing revolutionary. I just know myself. I know that if there isn't a fun incentive for Blaine--like getting to open a plastic egg every day--that we won't do all the magical things we should. I'll get too wrapped up in making beds and vacuuming stairs (which I did today, I am extraordinarily proud to report). I've said it before and I'll say it again (mostly to remind myself): I don't want my children to look back and say, "Mom sure kept the kitchen floor clean." I want them to say, "Mom sure read great books with us and took us to do fun things."
Actually. I want them to say both.


Sarah R. said...

I don't think there's any danger of my children looking back and saying their mom kept the kitchen floor clean!

Sally said...

What a fun idea. Unfortunately right now all the letter learning James gets at home comes from the super readers.

Katie said...

My daughter isn't two yet, and that does make teaching her things more difficult, but honestly, whenever I try to teach her something she just laughs at me. I know that it's seeping in somehow, because whenever she thinks I'm mad at her, she'll starting pointing to her eyes and saying "eyes" and then do a bunch of body parts. But that's the only time she'll do it. My point in all this is that you probably don't realize just how much they're learning from you- even if it's not in a traditional teaching manner.

That egg idea is GREAT! I'm going to do it with Spencer next year.

The Lindsey Ladies said...

So stealing your egg idea.

Melissa said...

That is such a fun idea. I will have to keep that in mind for my future toddler.

The Ramptons said...

Uh...can you teach me a better strategy than "just sound it out". Oops that is what I do. Seriously, I wanna know. (: Love ya. Loved the egg idea.

Jason and Rachel said...

Anne, this was so inspiring for me. Although Kyla isn't old enough I have been feeling in a "I could be spending more time" rut. I always appreciate your ideas and knowing that other moms struggle with the same thing!

~Rachel Van Winkle (Fish)

liz said...

I actually think you use your teaching in your mothering constantly. Not that you're teaching anyone fractions yet (hey, by the time I have someone to teach calculus to, I'll have forgotten all of it), but that your brain orients toward teaching. For example, when I had two year-old boys, I would point them toward a disorganized pile of toys and hope it would keep them busy while I got something accomplished. You, by contrast, would sit with Blaine, helping him figure out how to build a wooden train track so that he would know how to do it for himself the next time. Teaching has already made you a better mother. Don't spend too much time thinking about it -- being who you are is already just great.