Several of my very aware first-graders motivated me to do some research
with their parents for this column.
Imagine, if you will, these classroom situations in which individual children
had information that none of their peers had:
* I was reading a book to the class. The Eiffel Tower was in one of the
illustrations. One of my students knew its name, that it is in Paris, that
Paris is in France, and that France is in Europe.
* We read a poem about a chick pecking out of its egg. The poet wonders
how itís possible that the chick knows what to do. One of the kids answered,
ďHe got it from his motherís DNA.Ē
* When one child asked a question about using wool to make a sweater, one
of his classmates gave a detailed description of the process from sheep-shearing
to knitting a sweater.
I spoke to them and their parents to find out how they came by their information.
This is what I found out:
* Their homes have lots of books. The parents told me they grew up with
lots of books, loved books, and they have passed this love on to their
children. They teach enjoyment of and respect for books.
* Other reading material at home includes science magazines, newspapers,
atlases, and globes.
* They spend a lot of time in the library. One mom thinks they have read
most of the childrenís books in their branch!
* They read lots of nonfiction in addition to fiction.
* They share their hobbies with their children and discuss the intricacies
of these hobbies.
* The children are included in adult conversation about a variety of topics.
They have taught the kids to ask questions when they do not understand
something. Then they do their best to offer answers that the children can
The results are a joy to behold. These are children who are self-motivated.
They have discovered the rapture that ensues when they are hunting and
gathering information. As a teacher, I am all the more excited about teaching
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís
Advice for Parents.