This week, we asked Janice Kjellman and Judy Billotte from Children’s House Three to share some of their favorite stories that illustrate those moments of joyful discovery when an idea really clicks for a student and the “aha!” epiphany brings new life to learning.
Janice’s “Reading Girl” Story
I guess since I teach small children it’s the very many small things that stick with me. Of course I have so many “aha” moments of my own: Like seeing a child help another just because…or giving a sincere, kind word just because. Or when so many of the children, as they enter the classroom, have to come over and touch you in some way to start the morning. Some just lean into you, some hold your hand a little, some just want to put their hand on your arm or back for a brief second…
As for “Aha” moments of their own…There’s a 3-year-old who loves puzzles, works hard at them, and is good at them. As he works each piece into its place, he shouts, “I got it!” and then moves on to the next piece, fits it in, and shouts “I got it!” again. Each “aha” is as exciting for him as the last. Watching his excitement, the big smile, the shoulders coming up…it makes you really happy.
A couple of years ago, a mom made a special trip into the classroom in the morning to tell us her daughter had proclaimed the night before, “Mom, I’m a reading girl now!”
Sometimes a child doesn’t have great confidence in a particular work or skill. But they work and work at it and they finally get it! And then you listen and smile as you hear them say, very nonchalantly, “I know how to do that.”
Judy’s Breakthrough Story
My favorite moments of discovery and achievement by the children usually involve a child learning to read. It’s a slow process at first and even though I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count, I always wonder how much is sinking in as I repeat the same letter sounds and words over and over again. And then the breakthrough happens and the child walks in to class one day, sits down, and starts reading aloud. Wow. The look on their faces is so rewarding.
[This post originally appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newsletter, on March 6, 2009.]