Ish: The importance of honoring all attempts

Written by Gen

A recent trip to the children’s section of the public library awakened the memory of something that I feel is one of the most important ideas put forth by Marie Clay: honor a child’s attempt. A “wrong” answer can be frustrating for any teacher, especially when you feel you’ve worked on a particular skill for ages and ages, and still the child lapses. As I sat my daughter on my lap and read her the book, ish, by Peter Reynolds, I was reminded that when children become aware that we want the “right” answers or the “right” words, they can become frustrated and may even give up.

I recently read an article that stressed the importance of looking for what the child uses when solving a difficult word in text: Finding Versus Fixing: Self-Monitoring for Readers Who Struggle, by Nancy L. Anderson & Elizabeth Kaye. The article suggests that when the student substitutes the wrong word for what is on the page, he has used some cue: meaning, structure, or visual information. It would then be our job to determine which one the student relied on, bring it to his attention with praise, and ask him to try again using another cueing system.

As I have worked in kindergarten and first grade classrooms over the years, I have increasingly heard the following statements from students:

“But I don’t know how to draw!”

“I can’t write!”

“I don’t know how to spell that!”

This is discouraging! Our students are giving up so early in their school careers. They are so worried about getting it “right” that they don’t know how to just draw. Just write. That “just” reading and writing will help them become better readers and writers.

If you’re not familiar with the book ish, I strongly recommend that you check it out. It makes a great read aloud for all ages to drive home the idea that kids are responsible for doing what they already know how to do. And you’ll be responsible for teaching them the rest.


2 thoughts on “Ish: The importance of honoring all attempts

  1. Pingback: “Suriously?…Just Sayin’”: YouTube Sensation & Educator Advocate, Gerry Brooks, Visits Western New York – Literacy Pages

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