I’m pretty crazy about these flash cards my daughter has been making to help her to conjugate verbs. Notice how the “je peux” picture is continued on the “tu peux” card. I’ve always loved her tendency to use the edge of the frame in her drawings, leading figures in or out of the image.
“Elle peut,” that is for certain!
But she doesn’t always believe it. In fact her confidence in her own abilities is at a low these days, and it’s a real puzzle to figure out how to help.
My husband teaches cinematography, and every year at around this time he gets grumpy marking papers that often aren’t as good as he hoped they would be. One day he took a little break and went to the campus store to buy a new red pen, since his old one was losing its redness. But the only red pens he could find were in large packs with lots of other colours.
“Do you have any single red pens?” he asked the clerk.
She replied that they didn’t stock them much these days because most teachers don’t like to use red anymore. “It sends the wrong message.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Well,” she said. “Sometimes students see it like a warning.”
“Yeah,” said J. “Sometimes it is!”
I guess it’s all relative. This morning he marked a superb paper, and the red showed off all the check marks and the final tally at the bottom — near perfect.
I can’t help thinking that the biggest mistake in this generation of parenting is that we coddle our kids too much — we want to save them from disappointment, fill them with confidence, and make them believe everything they do is wonderful. But in the end it doesn’t serve them.
And this approach spills over into the school system and moves up with them through every level. Even the negative comments on a child’s report card are framed in the most positive way possible: “With frequent reminders, Teddy occasionally participates in drama.” Does Teddy participate? Not really.
I’m sometimes guilty of too much praise and coddling. I ooh and aah over N’s creations. And I have to constantly remind myself not to do things for her, but rather to let her make mistakes and to learn from them. So lately, if she struggles with her homework, I try to think of things I can do that might help her feel supported but not carried. Sometimes, after a night of grammar homework, I leave a poem at her place at the breakfast table:
Verbs are words that sing
And dance and hop and swing
Verbs are words that try
And reach up to the sky
Or after a night of geometry:
Parallel lines are friends
Traveling towards the same ends
Even when the road bends
Parallel lines stay friends
And I can see how much it means to her when she offers little gifts back, like the picture below. The best part was the way it was addressed:
To Momma, so she can know my knolege.