Before he began kindergarten, our son couldn’t count to 100. He got stuck in the teens or twenties — eleven, twelve, sixteen, thirteen, eleven, twelve, fifiteen…you get the idea. But with the help of his fabulous teacher, he’s been counting higher and within the three months or so since school began, he is now able to count to 100. Part of graduating from kindergarten requires that a child can count to 100, so this is a relief.
At curriculum night his teacher explained that one way she encourages the students to get excited about this task is by having them count out loud in front of the class, when they are ready. If they get to 100, they write their name on a paper that is posted in their classroom and they get 100 stickers, “for FREE!” my son now adds.
In her letter home last week she mentioned that the kids are chomping at the bit to begin this exercise of saying the numbers out loud. She said she was going to start letting them try this week. When I read this I got a little nervous. While our son can get to 100, he still has moments where another number slips in or he stalls at sixty or seventy. But I figured he’d hang on for a while before he volunteered. And we began practicing in earnest.
He came home today proud to report that three girls went first and were successful in their endeavor. And he was even more excited to share that he is on the lineup for tomorrow. Along with two other kids who volunteered to say their numbers. I’m glad that he’s excited. I’m glad that he took the challenge and didn’t hold back. And I am petrified that he might not make it. We practiced three times tonight and he did well, with a few minor stumbles from which he recovered. I will be waiting with baited breath to get the report after school tomorrow.
I feel a familiar knot in my stomach — the one that is there as I recall those moments in my own education when I had to perform in front of my peers. The fitness test each year when we had to hang from the bar on the wall, the times table test a teacher gave me before I could leave another teacher’s classroom, the reading of something I’d written in front of the class.
My son has no history of these moments of terror, and I am doing my best to keep my own fears out of his head. I hope that tomorrow is the beginning of many great moments for him. Regardless of whether or not he makes it to 100, I hope he will always feel the confidence to stick his neck out and learn from the results.
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