Is there a star-studded ideal lesson length? Should educators tailor session duration to individual students or encourage adaptation to a pre-set standard? Today…a true story illuminating the impact of drastically shortened reading lessons.
“Where did you go?!”
My head spun wildly. One moment ago, my four-year-old son snuggled cozily against me on the sofa, practicing his phonics. Then WHOOSH – he launched into a human rocket. Now he was gone.
“Can you find me, Mommy?”
A muffled voice wafted gleefully from a colorful pillow pile on the floor.
“Did you see me fly, Mommy?”
I closed my eyes, inhaling to the bottom of my lungs. Maybe I would indulge in a second cup of coffee. Exhaling, I stretched over the edge of the sofa and smiled. The wiggling tiny tip of an orange sock stuck out from under a furry, turquoise pillow. I tweaked the toes.
“I found you! And yes, I saw you fly.”
His contagious belly laugh filled the air.
“Let go of my toes, Mommy!”
Despite my dismay with our abandoned phonics lesson, I chuckled. I stood up and stifled a frustrated sigh. What was I doing wrong?
At the ripe old age of three-and-a-half, my son excitedly – and unexpectedly – asked me to teach him to read and write. And so, we launched our homeschooling journey nearly two years before I thought school of any kind was going to be a reality. I aimed to complete only one page of phonics per lesson day. But after his fourth birthday, that idea flew out the window, shortly after he tried to do the same. His wiggle factor was off the charts!
Hmmm…how can I help him learn to concentrate?
First, I guzzled that second cup of java. Next…I bought an egg timer.
Yes, an egg timer.
The next day, I explained the new rules to my curious son, who was intently interested in taking the egg timer apart, instead of actually using it.
This should be interesting, I thought, turning the magic minute dial to “5.”
My son curled up next to me. I opened the phonics book.
“Mommy, is that all?” His bright, eager face beamed up at me, all smiles.
“Yes, that’s all for today! You did a great job concentrating.”
The mighty egg timer. It saved the day…and my sanity.
When I reminisce on those “bouncing-off-the-wall” days, I appreciate that my son was a healthy, active, energetic child. As his educator and parent, my role was not only to teach him, but also to continually discover – and rediscover – how to engage him in learning. By dicing and slicing reading units into bite-sized pieces, I finally found the golden snack-size for my son.
The egg timer cracked open fresh wisdom that I applied in my future teaching and learning endeavors, for students ranging in age from two to 85 years.
The egg timer remains my faithful companion each day as I teach myself piano and Spanish. And – true confession – I use it when I write.
That’s all for now.
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