29 Jul Mummy Guilt Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey
A post by Emma Russell
When Things Seem To Go Too Well
So… this is what I know about children- they are not tiny humans. They are far more complicated creatures! My 5 years as a parent has taught me what my 12 years as a registered nurse and 4 years in adult education could not. When our eldest was a baby and a toddler I would devour endless books with her. She would look wide eyed and stab a finger excitedly at the pages. She delighted in story time as a means of entertainment through the day and winding down when it was time for bed. When she began her journey, learning to read, she has always been willing to have a go and appeared to find it all very easy. While I was happy to see her confidence in reading growing, I felt guilty that I wasn’t stretching her enough. The educator in me was thrilled she was engaged, but the mum in me told me things were going a bit too well and maybe I was missing a trick. I often find this, my children are so important, I can justify making errors in judgement in other areas of my life- I am only human- but where my children are concerned that guilt and inadequacy can eat away at me if I let it. As a nurse I often encountered relatives who felt guilty about the condition their loved one was presenting with and would either try and pre-empt every little need and want the patient had or follow you (the nurse) around until you attended to them. On reflection, when things are going well there is no harm in celebrating them and joining the fun. I learnt to stop trying to drive and let her take control, this was particularly challenging for me. After all, I wanted to send the message that reading is fun and was mindful not to turn her off.
Stumbling Over Unfamiliar Words
Cue the next challenge, she stumbles on a word she is unfamiliar with. She quickly gets frustrated and wants to give up, I want to give up! This isn’t fun anymore and I can see she is losing interest. I am aware of how I react next is of great importance and I don’t know what to do. I encourage her to have a go and inform her it doesn’t matter if it is wrong, coaching her the best way I know how. Secretly wishing that Tom was in the room to tell me all the answers. This is when the irony hit me… My eldest and I are really not that different at all. We are both desperate to ‘get it right’ and terrified of making a mistake. Coaching her to try the word and not worrying about getting it wrong is exactly what I should be trying to do while supporting her to read! On debriefing to Tom later on I learned that he wouldn’t have done anything differently and there were in fact, many different ways the situation could have been handled, none of them wrong.
This was the first instance I confronted challenges supporting my girl learning to read and it certainly won’t be the last! My hope is her love of books doesn’t diminish because that will be the biggest challenge yet.
Thank you Emma! I really love this wonderfully honest account of reading with our own ‘Tiny Human’ (only joking!). This part where things seem to be going well can be incredibly unsettling. I am sure that sounds odd if that is not where you are currently with your child but it is true. The feeling can often be that something isn’t being done to support or challenge this wonderful reader. The red herring here is that you may feel the need to push on through more challenging books until you find a book with words that your child needs to sound out again. I think this is mainly because this is what indicates earlier progress and challenge. However, this is the time, as Emma mentions , to get on board with the success they are having and use it to engage your child in meaningful talk about their books and other stories or facts. Take a look at -How do I challenge my child when they seem to read everything fluently?- in my FAQs http://howtogrowabookworm.com/how-to-teach-a-child-to-read-faqs/ for further ideas.
We love it when our children keep having a go and learn from their mistakes. I am here to tell you that this is OK for you too! Keep trying, keep going!