Last week I hovered anxiously behind my six-year-old as she sat at the computer taking a short reading-assessment test. As she clicked menus and selected answers, it took a Herculanean effort on my part not to "teach" the whole test. ("Are you sure that's the answer? Here, let's look at these words. Do you know what this word means? Now, let's read the whole sentence." Ad nauseam.) She thought she was simply playing a game on the computer; I had to leave the room so she could finish the test in peace.
There's always a danger that parents will get so caught up in their children's lives that they refuse to let them make a wrong choice. I don't think it qualifies as parental smothering to want to use every teachable moment -- after all, that's how I roll most days. When we're reading a story, I explain the new words. When we're working on math problems, I make sure the girls are paying attention to the problem and that their process is correct. So it's an almost irresistable temptation to treat a test just like a regular lesson, and try to "teach" it. *
The problem with that approach, however, is that without letting my daughter work on her own I don't know whether she can do the work on her own. A few months ago, I held myself back and allowed her to completely flame out on a math test. Until then, I hadn't realized that she wasn't grasping some basic concepts. The disastrous results led me to change programs and try a new method that's been very successful.
My father pointed out to me that if it's that hard for me to watch the girls fail at something I could easily have them correct, how hard must it be for God the Father to watch His children make the wrong choices over and over again?
*In fact, I'm at the computer writing this post because my girls are doing a five-minute math drill and I don't want to drive myself nuts by watching them work.