Teaching Resourcefulness

Our sweet Little Love just tickles me every day with how his brain works. He’s a thinker, for sure. But what I love most of all, is watching him put those thoughts into action.

Last night, he ran in the living room asking us to spell “birthday.” He was writing it on the top of a coloring page, so I thought maybe he was making someone a picture for their birthday. Dus spelled it for him, and he ran off saying, “I’m making my birthday list!”

I thought it was so precious that he wanted to make a list. So I reminded him what my grocery lists look like. (Little Love is usually tasked with crossing off the items as I put them in the buggy. Partly because it’s helping him recognize different letter sounds as he’s learning to read, and because that secures at least one otherwise running bottom in the buggy.) I asked him if he wanted a clean piece of paper so he could write all of his wishes on one sheet, like mommy.

I gave him a stack of maybe 5 sheets, and he ran back to his room to work, returning maybe a minute later saying he ran out of paper. Somehow he forgot about the little chat we had about the grocery list being all on one page and had written one item per sheet.

resourcefulWith some more clear direction, he was ready to go. I’m not exactly sure how he was spelling all of those words to start with. He initially asked how to spell “PVZ GW”… which is funny. Especially since somehow he figured out how to spell “Skylanders!” He got most of it on his own and came to us at the end to ask how to spell bicycle. I showed him how he could find words on his iPad using voice memos. I demonstrated it for him by pushing the microphone button and saying a word. Now that it was typed out, he knew all of the letters. So he used that tool to do the rest of his list, including asking it how to spell “Jonah’s Birthday List.”

I was admiring his list this morning, beaming with pride. And I though most of all, I’m proud that he learned HOW to find the answer. I think as I’m heading into this new career and overwhelmed with the idea of teaching 5 or 6 classes to probably 120+ students, I have been thinking a lot about what my goals are. What do I want them to take away from their time with me? What is my most important role?

Most of all, I want them to NOT just memorize the material. I want them to form genuine understanding of the concepts and ideas, and to internalize them. I want to give them the tools they need to be lifelong learners. To be able to go from curious to informed… on repeat for the rest of their lives. So that when thoughts pop into their heads, they can use their intellectual resources to become brighter, growing individuals.

I’m glad I didn’t tell him how to spell those words. Now he’s one step closer to being able to write me a story and spell new words. Maybe I’ll run my classroom on the method of never answering a question, but rather pointing them towards finding the solution on their own. Has anyone ever tried that?

After all, we’re not raising kids; we’re raising adults.

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