It’s been since June of 2007 since I’ve had a classroom of my own, and I bowed out of the field of teaching completely when my daughter was born. But I’ve found that I haven’t actually stopped being an educator; I have emphasised that I have a classroom of one person. And I’m finding that I’m falling into habits that I had formed during my training and tenure as a teacher. I try and plan lessons for my daughter, I prompt her to chime in when reading (you should hear her go to town on Theo. LeSig’s In a People House), I drill her incessantly on math and geography, and I’ve even found a workbook for children her age.
I’m speaking specifically of this book. Yes, I realize fully the pitfalls of basing teaching on pre-made worksheets, but this book is just flat out awesome. It’s a progressive set of coloring lessons that starts with “draw some ketchup on the omelet”, moves on to “color in the empty space to make the picture complete”, and finishes with a few black-line pictures to color in. Essentially, it’s a ready-made unit on how to use a crayon for toddlers, complete with a “how to use this book” segment for parents unaccustomed to teaching to be successful with it. The kid loves it because she just enjoys grabbing onto crayons and making marks on paper, and I love it because it’s a mini-curriculum, a course in coloring.
It’s even part of a whole series. The back of the book advertises Let’s Fold, Let’s Cut Paper, and Let’s Stick and Pasteat her age level. Those are all prerequisites for My First Book of Tracing, which then leads into a whole host of other workbooks. It gets my teacher-sense tingling.
So, not only am I giving my daughter “homework”, I’m going beyond the prescribed lessons in the book and enriching the content with outside materials. Like the “ketchup” in the first drawing, we put ketchup on fries for her in squiggles. I reinforce lessons learned when we get out other coloring books and blank paper. I’ve even had her hold a pen and “sign” her name to greeting cards. It’s flat out exciting for me to not just love this child as my daughter, but to teach her as a student as well. I guess when you find a passion…
Don’t tell the publisher, but I’m even applying some good old-fashioned public educator frugality. I’ve (almost) scanned the entire book into a pdf file, and I just have the little tyke drawing on printed facsimiles of the pages so we can not only repeat “lessons”, either because she likes a particular page that much or I want to revisit it to see if she has more success later, but it also preserves the book for a future child or children when the wife and I happen to get around to having more.
And that’s my miniature confession of the moment. I’m not in a classroom, I don’t pull in a paycheck, but I’m definitely still teaching. For those people that are worried about me missing my profession, I still practice it. I just have a classroom of one person.