Lucy Calkins - Raising Lifelong Learners : A Parent's Guide

"Teaching reading has everything to do with helping our children read with as much alertness as possible; to think more, feel more, question more, notice more. Reading includes talking and writing about reading." (p. 46)
A better subtitle would have been "How to sow and nourish the seeds of inquiry in children". Traditional education of memorizing facts and completing well-defined simple projects is out, and exploration and inquiry is in. Or so says Lucy Calkins, and I happen to agree with her.

In this must-read book for every parent (or teacher) of children between the ages of 1 and 10, Calkins provides insight into her own parenting techniques. Her strategies are aimed to allow a flourishing of the natural inquiry kids have instead of the all-too-typical systems which cause children to lose much of their curiosity and wonder. Some of them are common sensical things that many good parents already implement, but others will be new ideas to even the best of parents.

Calkins' main emphasis is on things like story telling, reading, and writing, but she also covers other areas like science. The key to all of these items is to permit kids to wonder, to question, to be creative, and to see the world through clear and thoughtful eyes. She quotes from Katherine Paterson who after telling the story of how her young son pleaded with her to come see a cicada shed its skin says, "As I let that wonder wash over me, I realized that this was the gift I really wanted to give my children, for what good are straight teeth and trumpet lessons to a person who cannot see the grandeur the world is charged with?" (p. 77)

Children are sometimes taught (either directly or indirectly) that reading and writing are a chore, a duty, or a requirement in order to complete an assignment or pass a test. Calkins turns the tables on this type of 'reading as work' teaching and frequent suggestion that parents and teachers give off by their behavior. She wants "children to know that the opportunity to read is reward in itself, that reading draws people together, that it is exciting and relaxing. [She wants them] to grow up expecting to weave reading into all aspects of their lives." (p. 103) She gives numerous practical tips for parents and teachers to realize this goal in their children and students.

Lydia Bellino provides an appendix of almost a hundred pages which deals with school related items like choosing a good preschool, parental involvement, and improving school curriculums.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. Read it, give it to relatives, give it to friends, and most of all use it to enrich your life and the lives of your children.

"We [as parents] are uniquely able to help our children live their lives with the alertness of writers." (p. 82)
From the publisher:
Here the nationally acclaimed educator who transformed the way our children learn to read and write in school shows us how to nurture our children's imagination at home, from the earliest days of babytalk to the time when we see them off to school. Drawing upon her influential philosophy of active learning, as well as her personal experience as a parent, Calkins shows parents how to stimulate curiosity and spark creative thinking in children. Raising Lifelong Learners creates the ultimate partnership in learning between home and school, parents and teachers.

Lucy Calkins is author of the bestseller, The Art of Teaching Writing (250,000 copies sold). She is Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the founding director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Lydia Bellino is Principal of the Goosehill Primary School in Long Island and recipient of New York state's Reading Educator of the Year Award.

"This wonderful book is a gold mine for those interested in nurturing a child's future." -- Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook
"How does one promote thoughtfulness in children's early work with science? In part, the answer is through conversation. We and our children need to have the kinds of conversations out loud that we hope eventually will happen in our children's minds." (p. 209)
Lifelong learners consistently show leadership skills and an eagerness to learn (updated by duke). If your child decides to pursue another form of education later in life, a masters in organizational development is a masters degree that mixes business and strong leadership education.