Do You Teach Your Kid Tricks?

Monday, June 10, 2013 0 Comments A+ a-

A while back, in front of some family members, I decided to quiz Phoenix. (Not a cool move on my part. He's not a dog. I don't need to have him to tricks for people. I think I was really just looking for some praise of how well I was doing at homeschooling. Well, that never happened.)

"What's the hottest planet, Phoenix?" I asked him. I was hoping he'd recall that Venus was the hottest planet, due to it's greenhouse-like atmosphere. (Yes, it sounds complicated, but it's a fun bit that stuck in his memory one day when we were learning about plants. I never drilled it into his head... it was just a cool tidbit that he remembered on his own.)

He pointed to the Sun.

"Yes, the Sun is the hottest," I said, knowing that not only did I put him on the spot, but he got the "trick" wrong. The Sun is the hottest body in our Solar system... but not the hottest planet.

My heart sank. The people around us giggled at his wrong answer. And, more than anything, I felt like a complete jerk for putting Phoenix in that horrible position. Why did I decide to put Phoenix on the spot like this? Sadly, I think it came from a desire to impress the people I was around. I wanted them to think how great I was doing at homeschooling. I wanted them to see how smart my son was. I just... wanted them to be blown away. Instead, they saw my son dealing with the hurtful snickers & comments that accompany somebody being wrong. Even if that somebody is just a 4-year-old boy.

So, Phoenix called the sun a planet instead of a star. It's not that big of a deal. I did what Holt would advise, and just let it go. According to Holt, Phoenix will learn eventually. Children have the ability to become aware of their mistakes without somebody else pointing them out. Not only that, but they can correct them too. It takes time for this to happen.

Well, wouldn't you know that the very next day, Phoenix mentioned in casual conversation that the Sun is a planet, not a star. It's like he  was proving to me that he knew. He just slipped up the other day during our trick.

I've since sworn off having my son do "tricks" for people. People who want to be impressed by my son will find things to be impressed just by sitting down and having a conversation with him. People that don't want to be impressed will manage to find a fault in everything he does. The approval of others is no longer important to me. What is important is that he's learning to learn... on his own... at his own pace. What is important is that he truly loves what he is learning. That is more important than any "trick" he could ever know.


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