On Saturday morning I sat my 18 month old daughter in her high chair and we began to make waffles together. As she repeated, "waffles, waffles, cook, waffles, cook" over and over again I happily narrated what I was doing as I went along. We stirred the batter together and then I poured it into the waffle iron as she watched.
As the steam rose from the waffle iron I found myself explaining to her what was happening- how the waffle mixture was going from a liquid to a solid. And in my mind I could visualize the state standard for this concept, complete with the reference number. Concept taught: check.
Teaching has become so embedded in me that I can't even just enjoy making waffles anymore- and I'm no longer enjoying learning moments with my daughter, apparently without even thinking about it I'm inserting our state standards into daily activities. I don't think this is how Saturday mornings are suppose to go.
Oh, I looked at your Saturday morning description in a different way. You were doing so many things we are told make all the difference in a young child's life before school, using sophisticated language and specific vocabulary in your conversation with her. But what I saw that you didn't say is that you paid attention to the process-- to the mixing, to the cooking, to the observation that things were changing in the final product, and then you got to enjoy what you "created." There was no test, you weren't checking for understanding in that moment, you were validating the processing she was doing in that moment. This is important, these were discovery waffles, insofar as a girl her age can participate. Someday in the future there will be more discoveries, like what happens when they are over or under-cooked waffles, or when she does the mixing and it's a little under or over-mixed. If it was a test, she'd get the Bisquick box to read, questions on procedure (of course, nothing on over or under-mixing or adjusting cooking times for a particular waffle iron) and without any chance to experiment or insert her own opinions, she'd be asked to define a perfect waffle in some multiple-choice format. Exposing her to the finer details of a tasty, homeade breakfast is not test prep at all.
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