Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What motivates them?

One of the things that I love most (but is also very challenging) about teaching my own children is learning what motivates them. Of course, what motivates them in one area does not necessarily motivate them in another, but still, it's fun.

Faith and I have been butting heads about a few areas this year (actually this one area started last year) and one is looking up words in the dictionary. I was the kind of child who did. Loved it! Loved learning the meaning of words, and I guess that is why getting a degree in journalism came naturally to me.

To Faith it does not come naturally. Spelling does not come naturally (first child in four for that to happen!) so she fights me every time she has to look up a word.

Last week I told Faith a story about when I was in fifth grade and Sister So and So (sorry -- awful memory) held classroom dictionary races. One sheet of paper with a list of words, given a timed period, and we had to write the guide words from the dictionary for each word on the paper. I won. A lot. As a kid who was generally ignored in the gymnasium when picking teams (there was no hopscotch team!), I excelled in looking up words in the dictionary. God love Sister So and So for giving me that boost of confidence!

Anyway, after I told Faith that story she must have decided that her mom was never gonna beat her in looking up a word in the dictionary again. This morning she had an exercise in her spelling book which required her to look up some words. Without even being told to get to work, she was looking up words and timing herself.

A little competitive that one is! 

Sadly, I doubt if classrooms today have enough dictionaries to hold dictionary races.


  1. Great story -- that would motivate my son. He's super competitive.

    I completely agree about dictionaries being missing from classrooms. We're a "look-it-up" family, from both sides.

  2. I've run into the same problems with my kids (unfortunately *none* of them are naturally good spellers) and I love the dictionary and very much enjoy looking up words and knowing where they came from. Nerd alert: It would be a dream to own the complete Oxford Dictionary. This is such a great idea, Barbara. I'm going to try and do your dictionary race once a week with my 4 oldest kids. Thanks!

  3. Online dictionaries were the norm at the small college library where I used to work. The big books usually remained on the shelves, pristine in their paper jackets. If the grid ever crashes, we oldsters will be the only ones who know how to do anything! :) --- Rosemary

  4. Just checked with Little Brother who is the same age as Faith. In his school, they DO use dictionaries in the classroom and he is also familiar with the Dictionary Race.
    I did find him a few times this summer looking something up in the dictionary--and he'd always resisted me in the past, so I was relieved to see him use this resource on his own.
    (And I'm like Kelly. If I had the room and the money, I'd love an OED of my very own. A paper one, not the online edition. Do they even still make that anymore?)

  5. Elementary educator here. We certainly do have dictionaries, and we make good use of them.

  6. great story every mom in the world can relate to. I often ask my kids what motivates them to want to learn? what makes a teacher command the same classroom that another another has no control over? interesting insights from kids, for sure. seems the heart is the motivator more than the head...
    i am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.
    good luck!!!


I appreciate your comments -- sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself!