Friday, November 13, 2015

Lessons From An Eight-Year Old

"It's not about lucky bats; It's not about lucky helmets; it's about hard work."

This is what Aiden said to me a few days ago as I was helping him complete his homework. He was working on this "fast math" worksheet where he had to complete 24 math facts within one minute or less. The idea behind it is to develop automaticity with numbers and math facts. He's been doing really well with the worksheets since the beginning of the school year, even getting 24 out of 24 on pretty much all of them.

But on this particular day, the worksheet was assessing new math facts. Which he hadn't studied yet. So when he saw that he left five questions blank by the time one minute was up, he was feeling pretty down and was pretty hard on himself. To help the kid out, I wrote the new math facts out on flashcards (the equations on the front of the flashcard, the answer on the back of the flashcard). I also helped him notice any patterns that might help him with memorizing the facts.

We practiced for about two days. On the train ride to school. At home before bed. While running errands. Anywhere, really.

The next time he completed the worksheet, he got all 24 math facts correct. With 12 seconds to spare. He was so proud of himself. (And he's been keeping up the momentum and getting all 24 facts correct each time he does the worksheet.)

"Wow, Aiden... you've been working really hard at studying your math facts and I see it's paying off," was my response to his efforts. 

His response? "Yeah... it's like that book I read a few days ago, Strike Out, when the boy said, 'It's not about lucky bats; it's not about lucky helmets; it's about hard work.'" 

(Back story: he recently read a book about a little boy who thought he needed lucky bats and lucky helmets in order to be good at baseball. But, as it turned out, he only needed to work. Hard.)

Truth be told, I didn't even remember the book or the lesson that it tried to teach. But Aiden did. It stuck with him. And he shared that lesson with me.

And, in that one instant, Aiden reminded me what hard work, grit, and resilience can get you -- success. Good success. 

I hope he holds on to that lesson for the rest of his life. I know I will.


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