Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Perfect Day

I'm haunted by the tripart equation for giftedness:  cognitive skills, interest, will.   As a mathematician, I'm very comfortable with exploring, measuring and improving cognitive skills.   At some point (it's 4th grade), the child has to fly free along the dimensions of interest and will, and all the cognitive skills in the world won't save him from drowning if he doesn't care.

I have one rule to deal with this issue.  Rule #1:  If the child devises an interest or project, drop all preassigned At Home Academic Material from the schedule to make room.  We've ended up with goofy stuff over the years because of this rule, including lots of crafts.   I feel like I need a rule #2 or #3, but I am still a parent of young children, so I haven't invented these missing rules.  For now, it is clear to me that the projects or interests that are self-devised are the ones that produce interest and will, or from the standpoint of a different theory, grit and success.

Today was the perfect example of what I'm talking about.   With the older one away at camp, the younger one has been thinking about what he could do for camp.  Why don't you have your own camp?  I suggested.  Great idea.  There was lots of signage and planning and other preparation.  Fortunately, the "campers" were his peers at school, and we ended up with a slightly unorganized reluctant counselor and 8 Type A Leadership-type campers.  This pilot only included kids from his school who lived nearby to avert disaster for me.   Worked really well today, and when we do it again I'm going to expand the program.

Here he is checking the schedule.  We made T shirts as well.

This concept is based on something quite extraordinary that happened down the street from us a few years a go.  A group of 7th grade girls started a 1 week day camp for little kids.  I think they ended up with 30 kids each week for a few weeks.   It was an extraordinary camp and became competitive to get a slot.  It was known as "Camp Norwood".   Our kids attended.   The girls went on to college, graduated, did something service oriented in Kenya, and generally exemplified what I consider a Job Well Done for their parents.  I'm still in awe of all of the effort and results.

Therefore, as the inventor of UnOriginality in Parenting, I stole the idea, downgraded it to age 6, and went for it.   I'm not sure what my child got out of the whole program, but I could see the beginnings of something really good for a few of the other kids,  I think this endeavor was win-win-win-win...   My kid got to make posters and lists, and a few real leaders emerged from among his friends.  

One final note from my experience today as the helper and cook.   Girls and Boys are so different in every way that they might as well be from other planets. I've got a friend who teaches high school math, and this type of thinking causes her endless headaches.  She says "They are 'People'", and I know what she means; girls tend to get the short end of the stick in stereotyping as far as math is concerned, which is totally unfair because they are perfectly cut out for real math in the eventuality that the US school system will ever get around to teaching real math.   But these people are really from different planets.


  1. awesome story!

  2. Totally unrelated question. Wondering if I can get tips from you or other parents here about school bus. My kids will be k and 2nd grade at a new public school this fall. I kinda want to drop them off at school and pick them up from school because I do see some advantages e.g., avoid a longer trip and less tired by the time they come home and maybe more ready to get to homework, avoid any possible incidents like misbehaviors and bullying inside the bus (extremely nice neighborhood and school, but who knows right?), and plus having more time to talk with them about school and all in my car?? Worried if I am taking away their school bus experience.

  3. So...interesting!!
    True 'girls' get into a stereotype mold. My husband and I are just 3 days apart in age and we are from very similar background, a background that can be traced back three generations. However, my math is stronger than his and he is better at comprehension (underlying meaning kind of component) skills. I think my reading had to do with being more science oriented.
    I prep my son on a Math topic and when he starts moving along, my husband takes over. I cannot sit through reading (books) and explaining the nuances. That is something which my husband does well.