I was helping my 1st grade son with his homework. This isn’t the perfect bonding exercise, as he does not like doing his homework and I do not enjoy watching him not like doing his homework. It leads to impatience in my voice, which he likes almost as little as he likes doing his homework.
Earlier this year, as I was dragging him out of bed for school, he told me, “I don’t like learning. It’s not really fun for me.” Dragging him out of bed in the morning is not really fun for his parents, but I suppose that’s an issue for another day.
Part of his homework that night was a questionnaire from his reading teacher. I guess she wanted to get a feel for each child’s attitude about reading before getting too far into the year. My son is a pretty good reader, when he has to be. And when he doesn’t have to be, he’s playing with LEGOs.
When it comes to reading practice, he’s lazy. I could compare him to a mule or other reluctant worker, but that’s not quite strong enough. The only simile that fully captures it is: he’s as lazy as a six-year-old.
The first question on the homework was: “Reading is _________”
The boy thought about it for a second, then filled in the word fun.
I raised an eyebrow. “Really? You don’t act like reading is fun.”
“Reading is kind of boring. But I think this is what the teacher wants me to say,” he explained.
It would be hypocritical of me to make him change his answer, since much of my own school career was based upon political expediency.
He answered a few more questions about his favorite subjects to read before he got to the question: “The best thing about reading is _________”
He didn’t have to think about it at all. He quickly went to work answering the pictures.
This didn’t sound much like a reading is fun kid, but maybe you can like to read and still like the pictures even a tiny bit more than the text. I let it go.
The next question was: “The worst thing about reading is _________”
He didn’t miss a beat. “The words,” he said, quicker than he could touch his pencil to the paper.
I had to slow him down this time. If you are going to start off playing this game of hiding your opinions behind the expected preferred opinions, then you ought not directly contradict yourself by letting your true feelings out later.
I should have let him look foolish with his incongruous answers, but I was in no mood to be dragged down with him.
We discussed it and decided the hard words made a better answer.
So it boils down to this: reading is fun, especially when accompanied by numerous illustrations, but the enjoyment can be diminished by an overabundance of difficult passages.
That sounds like a perfectly reasonable opinion, doesn’t’ it?