“How do you spell giant, daddy?,” Charlie asked me as he pecked away at his Skin Seed app, a program that lets him design his own Minecraft characters and import them into the game.
Charlie’s a good reader, and I’m always torn when my kids ask me to spell things. Do I sound it out with them? Give them the answer? Let them spell it phonetically or however they want? It was times like that I wished I had a dictionary where I could help them start the word, and then they could look up the rest on their own.
So I gave Charlie a pass on this round, and made a mental note to get a family dictionary for the boys to use.
Zacharie had plowed through the first two books of Stink, his latest favorite story series, and was on to the 3rd and 4th retellings of the tales. I promised Charlie he could pick out a book too, and then I told them I would be getting them a dictionary.
They didn’t seem impressed. I didn’t care.
My kids are going to live in a world where the answer to anything they’ve ever wanted to know is a Siri away. There will be no unknown to them – ever. And while those answers may be easy to find, the link between question and answer is lost when we have it given to us. We don’t learn the how, we don’t learn the why, we just learn .. the answer.
Kids have had calculators for decades to solve equations, but we still teach them the process with which calculations are made. You still need to know the steps along the way to solve various problems.
So while my kids are digital natives, I want them to be analog aware. It’s why I still buy them paper books instead of filling up their iPads with e versions. It’s why we still play board games. It’s why I bought them a dictionary. The next time one of them asks me to spell a word, my answer will simply be “look it up, yourself.”