Sunday, April 21, 2013

Be careful with "can't"

About reading:

English has one word that, unfortunately, helps charge this whole subject with emotion and doom. I learned this from an exchange with Marty, when he was four. I wrote it down at the time, and have quoted it a few times since, but I've never connected it with reading until now.
Wed, Jul 28, 1993
The first thing [Marty] said after “good morning” was “Mom, if you count to infinity, is it illegal?”

I explained to him about infinity, with a million plus one and a “gadillion” plus one. He was fine with the explanation, and I said, “Who told you you can’t count to infinity?” He said I did, so I explained the difference in things that are impossible and things that are illegal (have consequences)

"Can't" sounds pretty permanent. We were careful not to say, in our kids' hearing "Marty can't read." We would cheerfully say, "Marty doesn't read yet" (or Kirby, or Holly). With that, every time it was discussed we were clearly indicating that we thought the child WOULD read before long, and it was not a concern. They were certainly learning in many other ways, as anyone close enough to discuss their reading could see!
photo by Sandra Dodd

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