What It Takes To Discourage A Second Grader

I don’t know how old I was — maybe second grade? I had gotten really good at reading and spelling and was feeling very proud of myself. Then one day my mom or my teacher corrected my pronunciation of “nonchalant.” What? Non. ChALENT. I am a good reader! I sound out my words correctly all the time now! What is this non-sha-lahnt business? Are you pulling my leg?

No, she was not, the Corrector informed me. The word was French, and required a French pronunciation.

I remember feeling totally defeated.

I will never, ever get this. There are too many words. And some of them don’t follow the rules. There are too many languages. How many more of this kind of thing is out there? I bet millions. I am screwed.

For some reason tonight I remember this and I think of children in school, and how hard it is.

Bless our schoolchildren, God. Help us to be patient and encouraging with them. Help us to remember how hard it was, how easy to get overwhelmed and defeated.





3 Replies to “What It Takes To Discourage A Second Grader”

  1. And the immigrants. Bless the immigrants, young and old, who are required (or will be soon) to learn English to be citizens.

  2. Thank you for this reminder. I teach middle schoolers, and it’s too easy to forget what it was like to be in their place. One recent morning, I had a sudden flashback of the fear with which I faced almost every morning of 7th grade, followed immediately by sorrow as I reflected on how many of my students must feel the same fear and how heedless I am of that on some days. Even for the ones who come from healthy, financially stable families are fighting a hard battle to grow up in a stress-filled, competitive, materialist environment. [GOD yes!! I was that kid. – PB] How much more difficult it is for those in poverty, the ones who struggle academically, and the kids who just don’t fit one of the preferred molds. [Bless you in your work, Bonnie. Thanks for writing. – PB]

    As our school year winds down, I sometimes ask my students to behave so I will miss them when they are gone. God, help me do the same for them.

  3. I once heard a read a saying that a gifted child reader is one that will read above their level, know what the words means but pronounce them incorrectly in their heads. I was that child. Reading on a 6th grade level in 1st grade. I thought subtle wasn’t pronounced “suttle” but instead “sub-tle.” Chic was “chick” not “sheek” and on and on. You were/are in good company. If only we could reassure the little ones now.

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