I used to teach English, and I read all the time, so I have a big vocabulary. I don’t dumb down what I say to my preschool-aged son, and neither does his father. The kid watches a lot of PBS, especially Martha Speaks, which is a show about a talking dog who wants to know the definition of everything.
As a result of being around so many big words be has a pretty impressive vocabulary for someone his age.
Last night at dinner, he asked, “Do you know what cinnamons are?”
“Cinnamon is a kind of spice,” said his father, “used for cooking.”
“It’s a spice,” his father repeated.
“No, cinnamons,” he insisted. “It’s two words that mean the same thing. Like happy and glad.”
Last week I took a couple of my students to a banquet hosted by a local science and engineering community, and something one of the speakers said really stuck with me:
We read to our kids, and encourage them to read as well. But what are we as parents doing to encourage their love of math and science?
I’ve been thinking about that, in the context of parenting my son, teaching my students (most of whom hate math), and writing stories, and I think I’ve come up with an answer.
It’s not enough to allow our readers to live vicariously through our characters. We need to make our stories so engaging that when readers finish them, they get up and go have the same experiences themselves: travel to a distant location and explore the location on foot, or plant a garden or make your own clothes like our pioneer ancestors. But most importantly, ask questions, especially “why” and “how.”
What do you do to encourage your kids (either your own or in a classroom) to love math and science?