We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
My son is almost 16 months old, and he can’t — or won’t — walk.
I protest to my husband, my mother, my friends, our pediatrician, my son’s teachers:
He’s been cruising for months!
He pushes his high chair all around the kitchen! In fact, he can turn anything into a walker and push it around the kitchen!
He can hold big toys above his head while he shakes his hips… oh, and cackles! He taunts me!
He can stand and climb up and down the stairs!
And, in the ultimate bad mom move, I compare: His SISTER had been walking for four months by now.
It just makes no sense.
I tell his teachers, “So, I know if they walk for the first time at school, you won’t tell us, right? Because you want us to think their first time is at home?”
They smile at me.
“No, we won’t tell you, unless you ask us to. [I nod vigorously.] He’s so strong, though — we aren’t worried.”
“Well,” says one teacher, Ms. Stephanie, “He hasn’t walked yet, but the closest he’s gotten is holding these two trucks.” She gestures to two pretty large plastic trucks with handles on top (these women truly are angels). “He pushes himself along like this,” she demonstrates. Bless her heart. “Maybe you could try that at home.” Another strategy in my toolkit. Perfect. We’ve got this.
Later that evening at big sister Zoe’s swim lessons, Clark and I sit together in a curved plastic chair, watching through the observation window as Zoe ducks her head underwater and screeches with delight as she surfaces. Next to Clark and me, two young boys toddle gleefully around the towering legs of their parents, and I get the fleeting, annoying question in my head again: Will Crk ever do that?
As if on cue, my warm, squishy little boy sighs deeply and tucks his fuzzy head under my chin, curling his knees to his chest and burrowing as closely in to my body as possible. Oh little man, I think. You are perfect just the way you are, aren’t you? I wrap my arms the rest of the way around his soft belly and squeeze his thick baby feet, and he giggles.
My son is almost sixteen months old, and he can’t — or won’t — walk. Yet.
I hate myself for leading with that.
I hate that too often my mind leads with that when it comes to “growing” my learners at school. True, there are developmental benchmarks that every child should reach: at 18 months, my pediatrician will take a closer look at Clark’s walking. At third grade, we want all students to be reading. At seventh grade, we want to make sure that all of our readers have the chops to conquer rigorous academic texts.
My reminder that day at the pool was that even in races against time, when there are strategies to be deployed, causes to uncover, and trucks to be walked with, there are celebrations, too. Right now, at home my hesitant walker loves to snuggle. At school, my rigorous text struggler can’t put down the Percy Jackson series she’s read three times.
With both my kids at home and the kids I get for seven hours each day in school, I need to be like Ms. Stephanie: keep calm, stay focused, and remember that every child is on a journey to celebrate.
This week we reconsider the use of reading logs in classrooms. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Contributor, Choice Literacy
Gretchen Taylor has worked as a middle school teacher for the Dublin (Ohio) City Schools, and a teacher-scholar in the National Writing Project. She currently works as a literacy coach in the district.
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Melissa Styger changes the way her third graders respond to read aloud in Eliminating Notebook Clutter:
Are reading logs boring? Cornerstone for Teachers lists many alternative ways to hold students accountable for home reading:
Here are ten technology enhanced alternatives to book reports:
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Are you ready to ditch your reading logs? Not so fast. Franki Sibberson explains why she still uses them in her third-grade classroom in Jumping Off the Buzz Wagon:
Cathy Mere finds many authentic ways for her first graders to share reading insights in Reader Response: Keeping It Real:
In this week’s video, Aimee Buckner confers with fourth grader Amanda about her reading comprehension and fluency, encouraging her to use a post-it note to track thinking around a focus question:
Justin Stygles develops Reading Passports as an alternative to traditional reading logs with his fifth- and sixth-grade students:
In an encore video, Clare Landrigan helps a group of fifth graders see the value of logging information daily in Running and Reading Logs:
That’s all for this week!