african american students

Parenting Wish: Finding the ‘Ohhhh’ in Learning

Posted on Posted in Blog, Learn & Play Kids, Tweens & Teens, Parenting's Not Easy

Parenting Wish: Finding the ‘Ohhhh’ in Learning

Have you ever tried to explain something to your child and the more that you try to explain the more confused they get?  I have found myself in this situation a time or two.  I know that I am about to dig myself out when I finally hear myself say: ‘It’s just like when you….’  At this point I have finally figured out how to enter into their world and attach what I need them to know to what I am trying to make them understand. This is when I usually see their eyes go bright, get wide and their mouth form into an ‘O’ while simultaneously making the same sound.   My ‘It’s just like when…’ usually refers to something they’ve seen or actually experienced before.  Like the other day my son was reading a book and they mentioned the fact that the moon and ocean tides are connected.  My son said ‘I don’t believe that! How can that be true? How can the moon affect the ocean?’ he asked in disbelief.  I wasn’t exactly sure how, but I knew it was true.  Before we researched the connection of the moon to the ocean I mentioned to my son that we are all connected to the moon.  At first I rambled on and on about the word lunatics and how it’s been reported that people often behave strangely when there is a full moon.  A blank stare was all I got.  Then I thought: ‘It’s like when you see dogs howling at the moon on cartoons’.  ‘Ohhhh’ he said.
There are schools that approach learning by trying to figure out not only what their students know but they also inquire about their student’s daily concerns and interests.  In the school world it’s called a student-centered approach to learning and it’s been seen to be effective.  Such an approach makes meaningful connections when teaching, draws interest and promotes thinking. A report by the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education studied four different schools that took a student-centered approach.  The report found that African American and Hispanic students in particular benefitted from such an approach to learning.  The report found that students of color:
  • were more likely to develop transferrable academic skills.
  • felt a sense of purpose and connection to school.
  • graduated, attended, and persisted in college at rates that exceed their district and state averages.
I don’t recall my teachers taking a student-centered approach to learning.  I spent most of my time in school trying to memorize facts, a skill not very helpful in college.  My oldest is about to enter her ninth grade year and I can count on one hand the teachers she’s had who have used a student-centered approach to learning.  Yet, I haven’t given up hope that all of my children will come across teachers who teach by taking an interest in their interest. The stakes are high and I need them all to be able to go to school and say ‘Ohhhh’ all day long.


Does your child’s school offer many ’Ohhhh’ moments?




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