By: Kim Jennings
My son is in first grade now. He has homework 4 nights a week, and though at first I was worried about the iron fist of test-driven teaching that seems to be prevalent in the great state of Massachusetts, so far everything is just fine.
Now, as I have said before, I’m a full time working mom. When I get home, the homework has generally been completed already, and playtime is well underway. What I have found is that I look forward to seeing what paperwork came home from school, and what homework he’s done for the next day. I honestly and truly love the pride that comes across his face when he shows me how well he’s doing with his handwriting, or what book he read today, or how he’s learning to match pictures with word sentences.
Today, though, a new thing happened: a paper came home with a check. Not a check plus, just a check this time. My son was perplexed. “That’s not fair,” he said. And I was left trying to explain that this is how we learn, that mistakes happen, and that we should pay attention to them so that we can learn for next time. I thought a lot about the words I was going to use, because as a recovering perfectionist myself, I am very cautious about how I can learn from my own experiences to help him navigate his way through the years to come. I love the look of excitement on his face when something clicks. I love when I explain the “rule” of how to write a certain letter a certain way, and how his face lights up when he realizes that he CAN do it. I love watching the joy of learning take hold in his little mind.
Oh…to have that joy in all that we do throughout our lives. I would love for my son to grow up thinking that this is possible. When do we lose that? Is it when people condition us to believe that all mistakes are bad, that it is better to be perfect than to be human? Where is the joy in that?
How can I help him to hold onto that joy for as long as possible, until he can keep it going himself?