As a teacher I hear it all the time. I can’t do times tables. I can’t do long jump. My son isn't good at reading. And you know what? As a teacher, my response is….
You can’t do times tables…..yet. You can’t do long jump…..yet. Your son isn't good at reading…..yet.
Such a small, insignificant word.
As a teacher, it’s significance is huge. It’s the Kindergarten child who walks into the classroom, expecting that they will walk out a reader on their first day. (Didn't you tell your kids? “When you go to big school, you will learn how to read!” Thus, they all walk in on that first day expecting to walk out reading War and Peace!) Of course, when the tears fall at the end of the first day because they can’t read, my response is always, “You can’t read….yet.”
It’s the child in my choir, who hasn't mastered the harmony that she needs to learn before the Creative Arts Night. It’s hard to sing something completely different to the person standing next to you! You haven’t mastered the harmony…...yet.
And now it’s my daughter. 12 years old, sitting her Inter Foundation Classical Ballet exam in 8 weeks and freaking out because she can’t do double pirouettes. After every class, she climbs into the car, happy with class, disappointed in herself because she can’t do double pirouettes.
No Gorgeous Girl, You can’t do double pirouettes…...yet.
It will come.
Work hard. Listen to your teacher. Learn from your mistakes. Persevere.
The power of this little word is phenomenal.
The word ‘yet’ changes the new mother who is struggling in that crazy newborn haze, that lack of sleeping routine, into a mum who can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The word ‘yet’ changes the child who is struggling to master long division into a child who knows that if he works hard enough, he will get it. (It’s OK kid, no one ever got long division the first time round!)
And the word ‘yet’ gives the 12 year old girl, who is trying her hardest to prepare for her ballet exam, hope. Hope that she will master what she needs to, so that she feels confident when she walks into that exam room.
So, No beautiful girl.
You can’t do double pirouettes……..yet.
I love living in the country. A couple of acres of paddock, backing onto a mountain. I can sit on my deck, drink my cup of tea and watch the sunset paint the sky an amazing array of hues, worthy of a Ken Duncan calendar shot. Silent Sunday mornings, Friday nights completely disconnected from work. I love it.
I do not love the lack of shops. Some people drink, others gamble, I shop. Mostly online, due to the distinct lack of options in my home town. (We are talking 4000 people, so not a chain store in sight.) So one of my favourite things about visiting the big smoke is…..department stores! Let me loose in David Jones and I…...sorry, got distracted. 50% off Cue! I can actually try the clothes on and not randomly guess whether it will fit, whether it will look half decent and whether it will look, on me, anything like it looks on the stick thin size 6 model on the website.
Recently, when wandering the city shops in awe (I get a special tingle when I see a Country Road or Witchery in real life!), I was handed a pamphlet…..and this is where my shopping experience went sour.
A tutoring business…..aimed at 2-4 year olds.
I’m sure that you can understand, especially if you are teacher, that as an Assistant Principal and past Kindergarten teacher, this made my blood boil. The classes started at 2 years of age, had the option of continuing until the first day of school and were all aimed at getting your child academically ready for Kindergarten.
“Don’t let your child be the struggler in their class.” I KID YOU NOT!
At age two, your child can attend classes that will begin to teach them number and letter recognition, as well as phonics and handwriting skills. All in the name of getting them ready for Kindergarten. All in the name of making sure that, as a mother, you can claim to your mother’s group that your child knows all their letters before they even start Kindergarten.
The first thing that rattles me about this, is that mothers, including myself, are renowned for comparing their child to everyone else’s child genius. For me, it was sleeping through the night. As a PND sufferer with my second bub, I would fall to pieces when I heard that everyone else’s baby was sleeping from 7 to 7, yet 7-7 were the hours that my beautiful brown eyed bub was feeling the need to wake me hourly. It starts immediately after birth and as a mother, it is near impossible to not compare your kids to the child that is crawling first, walking first, reading first or learning to play virtuoso piano at the age of 6. A marketing manager’s dream. Let’s prey on these mothers, use the massive amounts of mother guilt that they already feel and get them to pay us to alleviate it.
My second huge issue with this, is that as a Kindergarten Teacher, I can tell you here and now that you DO NOT need to send your child to school to get ready for school. Your child will not be the ‘struggler’ if your coffee buddy’s kid knows their alphabet before the first day and yours does not. Your child’s teacher will not be wondering what you have been doing if your child can’t count past ten yet.
Read to them.
Read with them. Let them ‘read’ to you. Share stories, make up stories, show your child that you love to read and encourage a love of reading and storytelling for your child. I don’t care if your child can read or not when they start school. I do care if they love reading or sadly have never been opened up to the wonder and excitement of a good story.
Let them play.
Learning how to share, be resilient, listen to others, respect others, compromise, imagine, create, socialise, take risks, develop language and vocabulary, work with other children, play by rules…...the list goes on and on. But any Kindergarten teacher, child psychologist or education researcher worth their salt will tell you the importance of play in a five year old’s life. Listen to them, not some marketing guru with dollar signs in his eyes.
Learning is not a race.
So please do not let mother guilt rob you of your bedtime stories, taking your child to the park or $25 a week spent on school that gets you ready for school.
I threw the pamphlet in the bin where it belongs and looked to my left…….Oooooh look at those nude peeptoes!