My youngest daughter is six and she is keen on school and even homework.
“I’ve got homework,” she says when getting home and throwing her backpack onto the kitchen table.
And so she sits and works out the math and the letters at least for a few minutes before making a break for it to the television or the playroom.
I don’t remember much about first grade, but my assessment of my daughter is that she’s doing just fine.
Or is she?
She’s sat down now at the kitchen table with her 11-year-old sister, a sixth grader, for a game of Hangman.
The youngest has drawn out the underscores for an eight-letter word, and she’s now taking her sister’s guesses. But soon enough her older sister has lost and her crudely drawn figure is hanging and she’s rather perturbed and confused.
“But what’s the word?” the 11-year-old asks.
The youngest looks down at the eight empty spaces and then back up at her sister and says, “Well, I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“It’s just a bunch of letters that you didn’t guess,” the youngest says.
Her sister laughs and says, “That’s not how you play.”
And that’s when the real teaching began, well, sort of. The youngest soon learned how to really play Hangman and her sister found out a lot about competitiveness when the youngest protested: “But, but… if you guess all the letters then you won’t hang, and that’s no fun.”