Slice of Life: Slowing Down Time

Slice of Life 2011We were settling into a nighttime routine, my son and I, slowing down the day before sleep.

“What words did you learn at school today?”

“AT!” he shouts, with some frustration. He’s only six.


“We already knew it. It was already in our circle. Next to ‘the,’ and ‘to,’ and ‘and.’ You know … the circle,” he says, using his hands to demonstrate the circle. The circle is where they keep high-use words that they are learning in his kindergarten class.

“Well, it’s good to keep using new words.” I sound more like a teacher than a dad at that point, but he doesn’t seem to notice.

He nods, the frustration now fading.

I have watched him closely this year in kindergarten. His reading and writing skills has blossomed so much since September. Each week seems to bring new developments in his learning. With two other kids, you would think this would be no surprise. But it is. He surprises me daily.

When we read books, he picks out words from the text to read. He’s writing little stories, making comics. “We’re making books and books and books,” he informed me earlier in the day. He and two friends have become co-authors on what I can only guess, knowing them, will be another history of the Star Wars Universe.

His literacy development is on full display, if we just take the time to watch and observe him, and ask questions. His teacher is doing a great job, pushing him and nurturing him. And so is he. I guess we are, as well.

Peace (in the snapshot),

  1. Now if only all families would spend that precious time talking with their children like you just did with yours…maybe more children would understand why they go to school and how important the home-school connection is. You just reinforced the teacher’s work as the parent. Your son has a clear message of what is important and what is expected. He knows that his learning is interesting to you and that there is more learning to come. There is much to celebrate in all of our schools. I think we have to keep telling each other because we are being bombarded by bad press right now.

  2. I love that his teacher is encouraging him to make books! I think that is one of the most fun things to do with kids. Isn’t it amazing how brilliant kindergarteners are? You make me want to dig out some of my own kids’ writing. By the way, love your opening line. It would be a great mentor sentence to have kids imitate.

  3. I think it’s wonderful that you make special dad-son time before bed just for the two of you. A good reason to move away from the computer screen 🙂

  4. Kevin,
    He sounds like an author! What a marvelous moment. Your words captured it so vividly. I felt like I was in the room just listening. I wish more teachers could share similar moments with their families. I bet it tickles your son’s teacher to see him blossom, also.

  5. “…slowing down before bed.” Love the way you phrased that. The time before bed is one of the things I miss the most now that my sons are grown and gone–luckily they are providing me with grandchildren to revisit this experience with! Your son is lucky to have a teacher nurturing his love of learning!

  6. I’m a preschool teacher with high risk children and your entry is a great illustration of the simple dialogue a parent can have with their child about their learning. I am lucky in that I have parent meetings once a month where I can physically demonstrate these skills – because we need to be teachers and parents at the same time.

  7. A great snapshot. It is always encouraging to hear of parents taking the time to discuss reading and writing with their child, even if they aren’t a teacher, even if they don’t have a passion for reading or writing. Encouragement is the food children snack on thruoghout their days and their lives. Without it, they are no longer engaged or curious unless they have a high level of self-engagement or curiosity.

  8. Your son is very fortunate to have a dad like you. You remind me of my son who is raising a boy and a girl. He spends time with them talking about things right before bed, also. Cherish those wonderful comics and stories in a storage box. Wonderfully written story with dialogue.

  9. Kevin, these are simple pleasures that deserve recording and remembering. Your writing gives me a strong connection with my six year old grandson and his burgeoning world of learning. Thank you for highlighting these critical moments.

  10. You’ve hit on one of the challenges in my life as a mother: to step back, listen and ask rather than contribute, comment and display my knowledge. I work at this constantly and I love that you are able to let me share in that age-old ritual of talking down the day. I sometimes miss that as my husband is asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow (maybe we should try an earlier bedtime!). It’s when things inside–as well as outside–are quiet and our children are more likely to give up that nugget about their day. I love the “circle” and the AT response. Love this post–thanks.

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