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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cheater Pants Part 2: Why my boy rocks my world.

Pull on parenting clothes, Mommy!  Time to pack away the angry tears and take the bull by the horns.  Ugly words had been thought ("Homeschooling!" "Military Academy!")(1) but these thoughts should and may only be acted upon when all else fails.  Well, at least we have to try something else first.

A Plan, then!

I met him at the door.  "How was your day?  Hang up your snow pants! What kind of snack do you want?"  Trader Joe's cheddar nachos in hand, we sat at the counter.  I began a list.


Like            |           Dislike

I explained why I was concerned: teacher says you're not very focused in school.  I'm worried that you say you hate writing, because last year you were finally starting to like it.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"I just want to start with how you're feeling about school.  What do you like about it?"

"I really like spelling," he said.  So I wrote that down.

"And lunch and recess," he said, "but that sort of goes without saying.  You don't have to write that down."

"It's okay to like lunch and recess," I said, and I wrote it down.

"And... it's not that I don't like writing, I just have writer's block a lot."  I wrote that down under "Dislike," and he labeled it, (Like/Dislike).

We went on.  Here is the list he came up with:

"I pretty much like everything," he said.  And we ended up re-labeling "dislikes" as "Frustrations," because, well, if you're in math class and the math facts aren't in your head, it's frustrating.

And so he, almost unaided, suggested a new routine for the afternoon.

"I think that we should practice multiplication or whatever math we're studying right now after homework.

"And after reading, I want to work on a book I am writing."

We agreed on 1/2 hour of recreational computer time (Club Penguin,, etc.).

We also agreed on 1/2 hour of educational computer time--when he can type his book in MS Word, or do artwork in Tux Paint, or use the practice programs they do at his school.

TV, he said, should only be in his spare time, and maybe not every day.

Making the house nice to live in means 15 minutes of room maintenance every day.

Also, he has Gymnastics and Cub Scouts, and he's going to start piano soon.

Did I have to nudge him through some of this new routine tonight?  Of course I did.  But did he do every last bit of it, including his homework without a word of complaint and almost completely unaided?  Yes he did.  He's doing his educational computer time now, working on the book he's writing.  

We want to do some homeschool-esque projects after school, and the book is just the first one.  We're thinking about movies.

His ability to articulate his needs and thoughts completely rocks my world.

Oh, and he learned to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on the piano within minutes tonight (after I got sick of random banging). :)

(1) I have been thinking about this all day.  I need to state categorically that I have every respect for people who homeschool their children, and in no way in my mind is there any correlation between homeschooling and military school. I absolutely would consider homeschooling D if it were the right thing for him, though the thought of trying to organize myself and not allowing him to spend the entire day on rather gives me chills.  At the moment, it's not the right thing.  He likes school.  I believe strongly that there are many good things about attending school, and I want him to get the most out of it.