Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And Now We're Going To . . .

I was visiting Julie at Thinking About the other day, and she was talking about the resiliency training she is giving at Maya's school, and she said:
For example, when discussing 'set & communicate high expectations', our instructor mentioned that she sometimes forgets with her own children to slow down and enjoy what they are doing now. Her children are grown, and her son recently completed his first triathlon. She was very proud of him, but the words that rushed to her lips, with him still exhausted from crossing the finish line, were, 'What's next? Are you going to train for XYZ?' Luckily, she remembered her training, and stopped herself. . . allowed herself, and him, to just enjoy the triumph of what he had worked so hard for, without always looking forward to the next goal. That's a good lesson, I think. I tend to be the type of person who has a mental list of things I want to get done, things that I want Maya to accomplish, and when one thing is finished, I'm ready to move on to the next thing.

And it reminded me of when Julie was four and in the Montessori class I taught. For those of you who don't know, in a Montessori preschool classroom, the materials are set out on shelves and children choose which thing they are going to work with. Julie had been working on subtraction non-stop. She was doing a great job and it was almost the only thing she had done for weeks, all day, every day, she was subtracting. I got all mother- of -the -genius, instead of all teacher -of -the -child, and decided that she would be doing multiplication soon. That she would be the youngest child to work on multiplication ever.

So, one day she finished with subtraction and the next day she went to the easel and started to paint. Totally forgetting that the way children learn is to take in a great gulp of information and then totally rest that part of the brain and review something else or create while that information becomes a part of them, I was only willing to allow this easel nonsense for a few days. I started suggesting to her that she might like to learn to multiply. (Montessori teachers are not supposed to do this.)

Julie resisted. I insisted. She resisted (and there never was a child who could resist better than Julie, by the way). Finally, I said, "I don't pay all this money so you can come to school and paint!" (Yes, Maya's Granny has her stupid side.)

Julie wouldn't speak to me at school for two weeks. When she needed anything from a teacher, she went to my team teacher -- a thing she had never done even once before. At home I was still in favor. I hadn't failed her as a mother. But, at school, I had ceased to exist. I had failed her as a teacher.


J said...

Boy, I could be harsh, huh? Two weeks for a preschooler is pretty rough stuff. ;)

I was really glad that the course instructor mentioned that aside to us, because I needed to be reminded to slow down...esp. with Maya hoping to go to Model UN this year, and working on her Scouts Bronze Award, it's easy for me to get caught up in it all.

Never That Easy said...

It's such a hard thing to remember, both as a parent & as a teacher.

Today's classrooms are especially on fast-forward, even for very young children: Know your letters? Good... let's start building words and sentences. Know your numbers? Check. Let's move on to money.

Thanks for the reminder!

Even babies get caught up in the milestone marathon: Does she roll over yet? Can she crawl? Is she talking, walking, speaking in tongues?

Cherry said...

Slowing down is a good thing for yourself too, but it takes practice not to slow down too much.

Ally Bean said...

lol. I like that little Julie was able to distinguish between Mom the teacher and Mom the mom.

My mother was a history teacher who could get carried away with imparting knowledge about something archaic to me. Usually all I wanted to know was some simple fact, but she'd just start teaching away. She'd usually catch herself when she notice my glazed over expression. And she'd laugh at herself.

Grammy G said...

Thanks for the reminder. Grammy's need to remember that too.

Ginnie said...

I was the youngest of 5 girls...just 8 years separating us...and my oldest sister and I have a very different rememberance of my mother. My sister remembers her as a perfectionist who always pushed her to the limit... whereas I remember her as letting me do pretty much what I wanted. So, you see, my mother learned your lesson simply by getting worn down !! (and I've always loved that she treated me that way and am much less up-tight than my sister.)