How teaching kids has taught me to teach dogs.

Lumen at school getting attended to by one of the vets because her "fur was too old"

Lumen at school getting attended to by one of the vets because her “fur was too old”


Last year was my first year as an actual, honest, real-life teacher. Before that I’d been on rounds in highschools, and once with a year 2/3 class.

Then I got my job and became a prep/1 teacher (for those playing at home, kids in their 1st and 2nd year of school, 5-7 years old), and I spent the majority of my time teaching the group of kids who didn’t know all the letters of the alphabet, or who could only just count to 10, who would write the same thing every. single. week.

This year, I’m teaching kids who’ll write a page or more, and try and use words like ‘spectacular’, and who can count over 100, and who can actually read what I write on the whiteboard… but, despite them being able to do so much more than my kids last year, I feel like the combination of the two has taught me something very important about training dogs.

When I first started, I wanted those little baby kids to be writers. To write like year 2s, or 4s, or 6s. To write sentences, with full-stops, and know how to fix their spelling, and use capital letters. I would feel perpetually disappointed in them when my expectations were way, way above what they were capable of. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t have expectations, but it’s impossible to expect (most) preps to be able to write like a grade 2 kid. And now that I’m seeing the next step in that process, I’m understanding the importance of foundations, and little steps toward a goal.

Like how it’s ok if they don’t get all their full-stops right now, we’re working on it. It’s just a little piece in the picture that they’ll keep building on and building on until they are getting them all, because of that work I’m doing with them now. “Remember your full-stops, such-and-such!” in my very best and sternest teacher voice.

Yep, it's a tough life.

Yep, it’s a tough life.

And so it’s how I’ve been with Lumen, in a way. It’s sort of how she works. I wanted her to be so fast and good straight away, and I had these expectations that she would be like Silvia Trkman’s Bi or Bu at the same age and when she was slow and unmotivated, I felt (as I did last year) disappointed that she wasn’t as good as I thought she should be. And yet, having worked now on little steps, little steps, putting together pieces, building her understandings, I can see how it’s coming together. And sometimes I feel frustrated because, darn it, I taught you how to do a serpentine a month ago and yet you don’t remember now!? Whyyyyyy!? So it’s ok, we’ll take a little step back and build it up again- the worst it can do is strengthen her understandings to make that behaviour more reliable and more consistent. Hardly a bad thing!!



5 thoughts on “How teaching kids has taught me to teach dogs.

  1. Kim says:

    Lu looks so amazing with the kids & I kept thinking Flynn would love this. Could you imagine part of the brat pack playing with the kids, not good for the rep. Kim

  2. I want to write so many things in response to this post but i am too scared i would say it wrong. Just know I think you are a very clever person

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