Ah, where to begin this tale? I was in the ladies’ room in the airport. Honestly, I was minding my own business. Honestly, I wasn’t eavesdropping on the next stall. On purpose.
Honestly, this is what I heard from the young mother to her child. “Stephanie, can you explain to Mommy your sudden objection to going potty?”
Now. Put aside the fact that this child is going to have inevitable problems of various sorts which may require her to recall this conversation on a therapist’s couch someday, but I was particularly interested in Stephanie and her Mommy because the week before I had been in the kitchenware department of Bed, Bath & Beyond where I heard, quite clearly, this exchange between another Mommy and little Timmy who could not have been three years old, and who had just picked up a rolling pin and was using it on floor like a steam roller while he made varooom, varooom noises:
“Timmy, that’s a rolling pin. Can you say ‘rolling pin’?”
Timmy says, “ohling in”.
Timmy’s mom looks as if Timmy has just won a full-ride scholarship to Princeton and follows with, “Can you tell Mommie the properties of a rolling pin?”
Photo by Valerie Fischel
I love New York. For many reasons. But last week I loved New York because the New York Public Library was filled with lots of Moms and Dads who “get it” about reading with kids.
Parenting Magazine and Target teamed up for Read.Connect.Grow, a special series designed to raise awareness and share strategies to improve early literacy. Parents in Washington, D.C., St. Paul, Minn., and New York City heard from teachers, literacy experts, child advocates and children’s book authors.
The mechanical statistics are grim. The research is clear, and a no-brainer. If kids can’t read well by third grade, they start to get behind in school and they often never catch up.
These parents, however, weren’t calling for more reading drills to prepare for a standardized test. They get it. They know if kids don’t LOVE reading, they won’t open a book. And if you don’t read for pleasure, you won’t get the practice you need to be a fluent reader.
They know there is no sterile drill and practice for getting kids to love reading. You can only do it with magic.
I’ve just finished something I’ve come to love. The fact that I love it does not speak well of my mental health. I love being on the only woman – the only teacher, the only one who has ever had to get the attention of 35 human-type children – on a televised panel.
I guess it takes one wise Latina to balance out the guys.
Regardless, I’ve just returned from taping a panel discussion, hosted by one of my favorite reporters, Ray Suarez, for a show called Destination Casa Blanca – Destination White House.
The show addresses political issues of importance to the Latino community, and arguably one of the most vital issues is education. The panel had a researcher, a civil rights advocate, a private school voucher advocate, Ray and me.
The topic was early childhood education and whether or not it mattered to the success of low-income Hispanic children.
Well, yes, I said. It does. The researcher said, yes it does. The civil rights advocate said, yes it does. The private school voucher advocate said, well, if it does, it doesn’t last so, no. It doesn’t.
That’s when the debate began.