Give children time to learn concepts that are coming fast

April 27, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

"OK, class. When I call on you, I'd like you to come to the front and underline the action verbs in the sentences I wrote on the board."

A hand went up. I called on the student.

"Mrs. Prejean, I forget what an action verb is."

My first thought was, "How could you forget? We just talked about this yesterday. We brainstormed and wrote examples on the board. Your homework assignment that we just checked was on action verbs."

But, of course, I didn't say that. This is a NEW concept. How many times as adults do we try to learn something new one day and forget it the next?

We change addresses or phone numbers and it takes us at least a week to remember them. We buy a new computer or DVD player and our kids know how to operate it before we do. Our boss explains a new procedure and we go back to our desk only to ask a co-worker later, "Did you get that?"


And we adults only have new concepts thrown at us every once in a while. New concepts are presented to our children on a regular - almost daily - basis.

We need to have patience with them.

When a child forgets a concept, I try to foster a sense of community by asking other students to help. When learning something new, it helps to have the ability to explain it to others. A student has to know it in order to explain it.

So, when I asked if another student could give the definition of an action verb, several hands went up.

"It's a word that shows action," one student said.

Then we listed as many words that we could think of that show action: walk, run, jump, drink, eat, push, pull, play, read, etc., etc.

After that, everyone was ready to come to the board for the verb search.

It will become trickier in the days to come as nouns are reintroduced. I know I'll be asked, "What's a noun again?"

In May we'll be studying adjectives as well, and the students will need to know all three.

I might have to pull out the Schoolhouse Rock! videos from my childhood, especially the one on adjectives:

"Next time you go on a trip, remember this little tip. The minute you get back, they'll ask you this and that. You can describe people, places and things. Simply unpack your adjectives. You can do it with adjectives. Tell them about it with adjectives. You can SHOUT it with adjectives."

Perhaps we'll need to have English class on the playground that day. Kids take things literally, especially if given permission to shout.

Hey, I say if it helps them remember what an adjective is, let's all head to the swings.

After reading last week's column on my fading eyesight, Liz Dvorachek with Hill & Knowlton in Chicago e-mailed in regard to my comment about the small print on the American Optometric Association's Web site. I wrote that the print was small, which made the information difficult to read. Dvorachek, who contacted me on behalf of the association, pointed out that the site was recently revamped. One of the additions is a large print feature on the top of the site pages, which can be accessed by the A- and A+ symbols next to the print icon. I checked out the page for hyperopia (farsightedness),, and was pleased with the large print feature. Perhaps this feature will help others as well.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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