After a few days away in glorious Copenhagen I am back, and all fired up to get back into the saddle with my reading and reviewing.
I thought I’d start with a book I read while I was on holiday. Michael Rosen’s: ‘Good Ideas: How to be Your Child’s (And Your Own) Best Teacher.’
I have blogged recently how much I rate Rosen, and how much I was looking forward to reading this book. He didn’t disappoint.
I loved the fact that this read at times almost like a memoir. Rosen explains how his parents brought him up with an insatiable appetite for books, learning and knowledge. He talks about the two key strategies to get children to read:
Read with them, every day, and read to them. Stories are what will work better than anything to encourage your child to read.
Inspire them with the belief that they are entitled.
By entitled he means not that they should expect the world on a plate, but that they are entitled to explore the world in whatever way they like, that all knowledge is and should be theirs and that there is no barrier to learning for anyone.
To me it means awaken and stir and feed their curiosity for the world.
The book is broken into sections that show you how to go about exploring the world with a child, how to pitch knowledge to them, what kind of conversations can lead to questions and curiosity, what areas of life can be discussed (any and all things), and how to make the world a gigantic, and interesting school.
I thought there was much to take from this book. It is incredibly open and eclectic in its approach to what constitutes an education, which I loved. It also reiterates the idea that children can read anything, anything at all, from football stickers to road signs, to the instructions on washing powder packets. All words are good words, all words are food for a child’s brain and imagination. Nothing is forbidden.
My other particular joy was Rosen’s insistence on allowing children to browse in libraries and bookshops. His belief that browsing is such a valuable skill is whole heartedly echoed by me. It teaches children to make decisions and choices, to categorise, to label, to disseminate information and understand how it can be organised and where it goes. It is an incredible skill we often deny children because we want to rush, because we haven’t got time, and schools which have their days packed with bells and drills and lessons that last twenty minutes and activities from dawn till dusk, do not encourage this skill any more than we do.
Browsing needs to be back in fashion as far as I’m concerned and Rosen makes a much more compelling case than me as to why.
A readable, erudite, pleasure of a book that will fill you full of ideas without patronising you and give you a sense that you can be, and are, a major force for good in your child’s educational life.