Monday, 6 September 2010

Having a Heart-to-Heart (on the way to Ikea)

I had the privilege of driving with my son to Ikea the other night in order to return a damaged item.  It's a two-hour round trip, and gave us some valuable one-on-one time.

On the way, I thought I'd ask him how life was going.  He's only 7, so I'm not sure how much detail I was expecting.

Nevertheless, he opened up to me.  "I just wish I did my work better."

Mommy-probe got into high gear: what do you mean by work? work, as in chores at home? work, as in homeschooling?  And when you say you want to do it better, do you want a schedule?  Something written out?

He was pretty quiet after that, so I gave him the low-down of what our homeschool schedule was going to be like this year: the Bible study, the history, the map skills and math and art.

"And you'll have a project this year.  Something for history, when we're studying World War One."

"I could do something with poetry," he said.  "Like make computer stick people do the actions."

Brilliant!  He's reading poetry, and it's about his history topic, and he's combining it with his love for animation and computing.

So in my mind I've established his long-term goals and schedule till Christmas, and my intuition is to leave him to get on with it.  

Oh, no, no, no!  Not boys!  You see, it's been tried in Norway for years, this idea of setting a work plan for individual students and them letting them get on with it, but they've discovered that boys are falling further behind the girls when they employ this strategy. 

The study makes the following generalizations: boys don't do well with self-regulation and taking responsibility for their own planning: instead, they like when a teacher sets clear learning objectives, short-term tasks, and tightly timed activities with clear targets.  Boys want immediate feedback, tend not to collaborate or discuss, and often put things off till the last minute.
Boys like immediate feedback

Of course, these may not be true for all boys, but in my struggles to get "Killer" peaceful in his school work and productive, they may not be far wrong.

Now it's not exactly back to the drawing board -- more like, back over to the computer to watch "Killer" make his stick figure animations and continue to encourage him in his poetry project.

This could be really good.  I must tell him so, often.


  1. Wow, this is impressive...He's only 7 and he's thinking of improving himself and doing poetry? wow..

  2. Isn't that when most people have their heart-to-hearts? My girls are not so great with self-regulation either... We're still working on that!

    Thanks for sharing.


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