Ok first of all, I would like to apologize. It was’t until Friday night that I realized this post did not go through for some reason. While I don’t remember everything I wrote, I will try my best to do so from memory as much as possible.
My six year old nephew is a smart kid. A really smart kid. He was tested to be skipped and aced a test that was the equivalent to one you’d take upon completing first grade and can currently read at almost a third grade level. With such brilliance there is a downside: boredom. Boredom leads to getting in trouble and no stimulus too late can lead to being extremely lackadaisical.
How do I know? twenty years ago that was me. In the most humble way I mean that I was that smart kid who was bored out of his mind and pretty much talked all through grade school. By the time middle and high school came around I breezed my way to honor roll without doing homework because I didn’t need it. However, that not handing in homework had adverse effects on my grades which eventually cost me getting a free ride through college. A mortgage of student loans later, I wish I’d done that homework.
The other day my nephew came to me while doing his homework and asked me what is a proper noun. I said to him “You should know. Didn’t you do that in class?” He looked at me and said “No.” I looked at him and said “Look, no teacher in first grade is going to assign something for homework that they did not do in class. What were you doing during writing class that you did not catch that?” He started rolling his eyes in his head as he does when he starts to lie. I said “Don’t even go there.” I knew he learned it in class because he was able to explain to me what a common noun.
As I was reprimanding him he kept looking around and fidgeting. I pointed out to him that doing all of that is how you miss out. I asked him “What do you do when someone is talking to you?” He answered “Look them in the eye.” I said “Good. Now you’re going to figure this out without me telling you what a proper noun is. Let’s use this as a sentence: Courtney is in trouble for not fooling around in class. What are the common and proper nouns in that sentence?”
He answered that class was the common noun and fooling was the common. I answered “False! Fooling is a verb. Try again.” He stopped and thought about it and said that Courtney is the proper noun. I asked “Why?” He couldn’t answer. I asked “What are the three things that are proper nouns that everyone learns?” He couldn’t answer. I then asked what is the difference between Courtney and class?” He answered that “Courntey is a name.” I said “Right! A proper noun is a person, place, or thing and is almost always capitalized. I gave him examples of different words and asked which were proper and common nouns. At the same time I explained to him what common meant. Those words were common nouns because they are used commonly which meant a lot. I then had him give me a bunch on his own which he did on his own and then proceeded to do his homework. Before he went back upstairs, I said “You see how if you had paid attention that would have saved you of going through this for twenty minutes?” He said “Yes.”
As a parent your second major job is to save kids from themselves. It’s the same thing my parents did for me in telling me about my uncle and that being too smart for your own good could be your downfall. My uncle was that brilliant kid who without studying got like a 1570 on the SAT’s. He wound up getting into lots of trouble and never finished college and is the prime example of cautionary tale. I know I’m going to have to do this over and over again with him, but hopefully he got something from this conversation much more than what is a common noun.