The “Messy” Table of Learning

Blog Home  |  November 8, 2019 by Willowstone Academy  |  no comments  |  From the Office


I like to entertain.

Making a meal for my family and friends brings me joy!  I like setting a table with a creative centerpiece, lots of cutlery, glasses, candles and napkins.  However, I don’t set the table like this for every meal.  Sometimes we eat sitting on the couch watching the news, sometimes we are eating out of take-out boxes, and sometimes the table is covered with work beside our plates.

Food Fight!!

One of my favourite scenes from the movie, It Takes Two is the food fight that takes place in the kids’ summer camp dining hall.  It makes me smile because it depicts, in a humorous and over the top way, how meal times can sometimes be messy.

My parents had 3 kids in 35 months.  Our meal times were loud and busy and our kitchen table was a messy place. Everyone had lots to share, we loved laughing and we didn’t always wait for others to be ready to listen.  I remember more than one occasion where something funny was said at the exact moment one of my brothers was drinking milk directly across from me.  I’m pretty sure you can imagine what happened next!

Learning can be messy too. 

When I was in Grade 3 I hated reading.  It was never my “go to” during free time.  Curling up with a good book wasn’t something that I would have chosen to do on my own.  But somehow, I learned.  Page by page.

All of these years later, I inspire children to discover the joy of story every single school day.  I am thrilled to be able to model reading strategies that will help them to develop their skills.

Learning is unique to each learner.

Each student develops and grows at their own speed and in their own way. When I was a busy young mom, I remember the sense of relief that I felt when my children came home from school  and didn’t require assistance from me to understand how to complete their homework.  I also remember the frustration of trying to motivate and inspire them on the days when the work that they brought home was challenging for them.

None of us want to see our children struggling.  We want their learning to be enjoyable and be easily understood. We want it to empower them and not overwhelm them.  However, when something is new to us – it can be hard.

Learning is hard work. 

As a K-5 Teaching Team we are intentionally investing our time and energy into discovering new ways to ensure phonemic awareness and numeracy skills.  We are collaborating regularly and networking with others in our community,  sharing best practices to meet the needs of every child.  We are asking hard questions.  We’re studying new research.  We are incorporating new methods.  We are learning.

Learning is lifelong.

In a few weeks you will receive your child’s first term report card. There may be parts of it that you savour and other parts that might be “hard to swallow”.   It is good to be reminded that this is only one slice.  Hold these reflections as part of the process of learning and not the product.

Learning takes time.

The learning journey is hardly ever a straight line.  Through all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, celebrations and challenges, helping your child think positively about their growth is one of the greatest ways you can encourage them to become powerful learners.

The way we talk to ourselves has a big impact on how we think and feel. Here is a Infographic on Growth Mindset that may be useful in helping your child frame their thoughts towards their own learning as you teach them to focus on what matters most.

Janine Draper – Grade 3 Educator and K-5 Team Lead