Different approach to school readiness

August 08, 2013|Lisa Prejean

With just a few short weeks left until school starts, it is time to gradually ease students from summer mode into academic mode.

So, I think it was quite reasonable for me to slide a copy of V.M. Hillyer’s “A Child’s History of the World,” in front of my daughter’s iPod.

Seriously, how many conversations can one person hold at the same time without taking a break? When the “experts” (whoever they are) tell us that girls are more verbal than boys, they aren’t kidding.

I expected my daughter’s countenance to fall a bit, but, to my surprise, her smile got bigger and she picked up the book in delight.


I thought we had achieved a breakthrough moment. Her reaction must mean that she realizes the importance of being prepared for her World History class. I listened to her comments with interest. 

“Mom, this is hilarious. I need to take a photo of this and Snapchat it to ....” Insert name of friend. At the moment, I can’t remember which one she was addressing.

Quite baffled, I asked, “Why do you want to take a photo of the book’s cover and send it to your friend?” 

She explained, between giggles, that it was funny that I wanted a teenager to read a child’s version of world history. 

Oh, I am just a barrel of laughs waiting to spill into the room ... or across the airways, whichever the case might be.

“Dear,” I explained to her, “this might be a good way to ease into the information that will be covered in your class.” 

She smiled, said, “OK, Mom!” and dropped the book on the floor by her bed. 

Five days later, that is where I found the book. It has not moved as far as I can tell. 

At least I tried.

I also suggested to one of her friends that he read picture books to his younger sisters. I told him to read about medieval knights, the Egyptians, the kings and queens of Europe and the like.

Wonder if he took my advice? Probably not. There were probably too many texts to read.

I’m always looking for ways to meet kids where they are, so I decided to try a different approach.

My daughter was walking through the room, electronic device in hand, when I made the suggestion.

“Hey, why don’t you try texting in Spanish?” I stated off-handedly.

She looked up, considered the suggestion, and immediately launched Google to search for the words she wanted to text to a Spanish-speaking friend.

The literal translations have proven to be quite entertaining for the friend and her family, but at least my daughter’s easing her way into Spanish I.

Now, if I can get her to figure out the percentage off on the sales items we’ve been buying in our back-to-school shopping, we’ll be making real progress toward school readiness. 

I can dream, can’t I?

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

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