Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Slice of Life Tuesday: Approximations

As I was thinking about my slice of life today, I thought of how many children of all ages are working in school as hard as they can, but still not achieving perfection. As a teacher, I struggled with children who were doing their best work, but it didn't seem to be enough. Then I realized they were approximating.

As I watch my two-year-old granddaughter work through things in her life, I have a better picture of approximation now. Kaelyn is an adventurous child and not afraid to try anything. This can be scary, but also encouraging. When you ask her to count she does it: "1,9,7,4..." She knows that counting means numbers. She knows that counting means giving a list of numbers. She does not know the actual order...yet. It is the same when she eats! She loves to do it herself. However, the disaster around the table shows she is still approximating that, too.
She loves mac n cheese
She enjoys sitting with a book and going through the pages. Sometimes she even "read" as she looks at the pictures. This again is approximation.
As children in classrooms are beginning to write or beginning to try a new genre, they start with approximating. They may be able to "talk" what they want to write, but it just doesn't look the same on paper. The talk-phase of writing is the first step. The rest will come if we are patient and continue the talking. Giving children of any age the space and encouragement to continue to practice these skills will help them reach their goal.  They will improve!  It is difficult as a teacher who sees the same lack of progress day after day after day, to sit back and realize it is still approximating. It is nice if a coach is available to look at the development with different eyes. Seeing the progress over a period of time, gives it a changed view.
My advice to all you classroom teachers out there who are doing such wonderful things with kids is: Take baby steps and remember they ARE working and they ARE improving...it is approximations!


  1. Great advice! Your post reminded me of my great-nephew, Jackson. He was learning to write his name. His letters were all out of order...and when instructed that he needed to start with a 'J' he said, "I prefer to put the letters in different places." It is so nice to be able to sit back and enjoy the baby steps. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

  2. The learning comes from trying and having those approximations. Sometimes we forget where the learning edge is and think it is in the perfection, but it's not. Good reminder!