Educational Practice vs. Parental Sanity

Teachers need to “assess students’ work,” which basically means just finding out if (what) the kid is learning.

Parents need to “keep their sanity,” which basically means getting the kid(s) out of your hair.

I get how these two goals are met with traditional education: the parents send the kid the hell off to school, breathing a sign of relief; the teachers send the kids home at the end of the day, doing likewise; and both sets of adults collaborate to force the kid to “do their work” during the school day and afterwards in the form of “homework,” which the teacher looks at in her “off hours” WITHOUT THE KIDS HASSLING HER EVERY FIVE MINUTES, marks, and sends back home where diligent parents hopefully “check it” and thereby know more or less how the kid is doing. And so on.

This whole process was a big problem for us when PK was in school. He loathed homework, there were lots of fights about making him do it, and lots of passive-aggressive notes between me and his teacher about making him “show his work” in math. The enormity of this struggle was a major part of the anxiety and stress that eventually led to us homeschooling.

Which means that now I have to figure out a better way ALL ON MY OWN.

The pieces of the puzzle are as follows.

  1. PK’s writing is very slow for his age.
  2. However, he freely draws diagrams and such of ideas he has, so he can/will write if he wants to. Not essay-style stuff, generally, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to write a paragraph on his own if he has an idea. He’s been known to make little books, etc.
  3. That said, he “doesn’t like writing,” by which I mean if you tell him to write something he will complain, dawdle and avoid. (As indeed will I, and most writers I know.)
  4. He’s done powerpoints in the past, and generally preferred them as school-based assessment methods. But there’s still, of course, the “you have to do this” issue and the complaining/dawdling/avoiding.
  5. What he DOES like is talking. A lot. He will ask questions and then interrupt your answers to answer them himself, or to argue with what he thinks you are (going to) say(ing). He is CONSTANTLY coming to me and saying “Mama, can I tell you [about my idea for a new video game/what I think the worst possible movie-theater food is/about this cool thing I built in Minecraft/why Superman is such an annoying cartoon character/etc.?”]
  6. It DRIVES ME CRAZY when he does that.

So basically, it’s like the homework problem that most parents deal with. The preferred assessment method (yammering about whatever pops into his mind) requires Mama to drop everything and focus her attention on the kid. The up side is that I don’t have to “make” him do it and it doesn’t end in tears; the down side is that it requires me to grit my teeth, feign interest (I truly can’t actually get myself interested–not least because if I am interested, then I try to contribute to the “discussion,” which ironically ends in raised voices, if not shouting, as he tries to talk over me), and Be Very Patient about setting aside my own thoughts and activities.

When he was in school, this same talking preference, of course, was a major problem in the classroom. I usually told his teachers they had all my sympathy and I would not, myself, want him for a student. And yet HERE I AM. Most of his good teachers would establish with him, early on, some kind of ground rule whereby there was an agreed-upon signal that meant “not now,” which he would obey, and then he could come to them later (at recess, during a break in activity, etc) to ask his question/share his idea. He and I have a similar system–but whereas at school, there were all sorts of other people (friends, other adults, etc) to share the burden of listening to his non-stop thought stream, now there is JUST ME.

And as is surely clear by now, it drives me batshit. And honestly, I don’t listen all that much; I do a fair bit of nodding and saying “hmm,” and a fair bit of just flat-out saying NOT NOW or THAT’S ENOUGH or YOU TOLD ME THAT YESTERDAY. In my defense, I am not just being an asshole parent; I write (and use online social media a lot) for a number of reasons, one of which is that too much talking or noise overwhelms me. I like social events just fine, but if I’m trying to think, I prefer to do it in silence. (Though come to think of it, I am quite happy to “think out loud,” too, if I have an audience.)

Even so, shutting the kid up because he’s driving me nuts is, of course, Terrible. Doubtless I am making him feel rejected and adding to his anxiety and squelching his love of learning. But I am only human, and seriously, this kid is one of those classic geek types that will go on and on about something while those around listen politely and try to slowly edge away….

(I also want to teach him some damn social skills so that he doesn’t do that to people.)

We’ve tried the dictation software on the Apple OS; learning to work with it will be a long process of slowing down, checking its transcription, adjusting his enunciation, learning to punctuate as he goes along, etc. A good tool, eventually, but not yet–and of course YET ANOTHER THING he “has” to learn (thereby putting me in the taskmasker role and him in the dawdle/avoid/argue role).

He knows that typing software exists; it too is in that category of things I’d need to “make” him do. (I will, because typing is an invaluable skill.)

I’ve suggested to him that perhaps he would like to write a blog (no)? Make YouTube videos about his various interests (maybe)? I could have him simply record himself talking, I suppose, as well (would I have to later listen to it??).

It’s clear that one of the major things we need as “gifted homeschoolers” is to figure out how to balance the flood of information both ways. I have stuff I want to share with him (teach him, make sure he learns); he has stuff he wants to share with me (things he’s learning). Frankly we both kind of suck at listening to each other, because we each value our own thoughts over the other person’s.

I feel certain that I am not alone in needing to figure all of this out. If anyone knows the answer, please tell me. (As I type this, PK is interrupting me–for the third time!–to tell me about some kind of Minecraft shit. HELP. Bonus incentive: if he’d stop interrupting, I’d blog more often…)

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28 responses to “Educational Practice vs. Parental Sanity

  • Pamela @RedWhiteandGrew

    Two thoughts:
    1. You could try deschooling for a semester, but give him boundaries for access to high-sensory activities like Minecraft and a required 2 hour quiet block each day.
    2. You could do some mind mapping with him and build curriculum and activities around a theme of his choice.

    We are dangerously close to unschooling here (hmmmm… Maybe I should get that as a t-shirt), but in our case I feel it is still important to teach executive skills. And so we have a giant but tastefully trimmed chalkboard on which I write the date, day of the week and a series of things that must be accomplished each morning if he wants 30 minutes on Gamestar Mechanic. If he complains about doing them, he gets “strikes” and if there are three strikes when he completes everything, he gets bonus work which usually involves vacuuming. (This is because the physical work of vacuuming usually puts his body and brain back in a better mood.)

    Not knowing your boy–and having forgotten his exact age, I offer up all this with a cheerful “HTH!” if it doesn’t then I will kick in that it does get easier, this labor of homeschooling. And then it gets harder. Then easier. Finally I hear that the children do leave the nest.

  • occhiblusf

    In grad school, I had a professor who commuted between San Francisco and LA, and he had us record all of our assignments on audio tape so that he could listen to us in his car. He’d record back feedback or criticism at the end of the tape.

    So that option isn’t out of the realm of possibility, I don’t think.

    To add in technology: Could he record his thoughts, and then play the recording to the dictation software? It might let him do the stream-of-consciousness thing and take advantage of his momentum in talking, and separate out the “committing it to paper” aspect, which seems like a different skill set. (I mean, this is basically what doctors do/did, just with live transcriptionists.)

  • tedra

    Those are all good suggestions! We are, to be honest, unschooling at this point. Once or twice a day I drag his attention away from his games to ask him to look at something off my pinterest board or play a math game I have for him or something, but that’s a total of maybe 30 minutes/day. I’m ultimately not comfortable leaving him to his own devices so much, but am waiting for a psychiatric appointment in a couple of weeks and figuring out if meds are the solution to his anxiety (and if so, getting the meds right) because I do think that he is self-soothing with the laptop right now. Which isn’t unfamiliar to me from my own severe depression days.

    @Pamela, I am leaning towards something along the lines of your calendar/board. And the required “quiet block” is a good idea.

    @occhiblusf, that’s a great thought–I will try it and see how it goes! (And even if I end up playing transcriptionist, being able to do it on my time schedule rather than whenever the whim strikes him would be much better than the status quo).

  • Kai

    Any chance you could ‘schedule’/set aside blocks of time to trade? As in, you listen to his ideas for 15 minutes straight AFTER he does X, Y & Z for the other 45 minutes in the hour? And, oh, incidentally, we will tape record those 15 minutes? and if he has a hard time remembering what he has to tell you in those 15 minutes, he could keep a list to remind himself (thus writing it down…perhaps eventually expanding that into an outline)? I suppose the effectiveness of that varies by kid/age/stage.

    My kid is 3, and he is Lego/technic obsessed. I have to stop him mid-description (as I’m vacuuming/using the sander/painting the trim or whatever) and say: “it sounds like we need a design meeting about this. How about we discuss this over lunch/dinner/snack in a little bit?” It kills me to say it, but it works. Every time. I think him knowing that I will sit down and just listen to his ideas (and have some food at the same time) helps him kind of bottle his ideas up because he knows he can literally spill it all over the table very soon. But maybe that’s just my kid at this moment in time.

  • Erika

    I don’t have kids or spend a lot of time with them – this may not be particularly helpful (but maybe it is). It sounds like PK is bright and likes to understand how things work. Some of the social things that you describe above, like the interrupting may get better if he understands the structure of a conversation.

    I find that conversations and communicating are like walking or running, because we do it, we think we understand better than we do. It might be helpful for him if, at some point, you can design some experiments with him to tease apart what roles people play in a conversation, what those roles signal, how different participants in a conversation interpret things depending on everyone’s role, etc. If he spends time learning how conversations work, he may see the things that don’t work so well for him on his own.

    As I said, no kids, no experience with how practical my thoughts are.

  • tedra

    Can I just say HOW MUCH I LOVE that the folks reading this blog offer comments while acknowledging that they don’t know it all? That is so rare in blogland….

    That said.

    @Kai, that is something I’ve tried and had limited success with–you’ve reminded me to try it again. As he’s gotten older PK has gotten a leetle better about waiting (with me; he’s usually been better with his teachers. Ah the role of mama). I can’t get him to write anything down, even in note form, but I will keep suggesting it.

    @Erika, actually you’ve hit on something that does work really well with him: talking about the “rules” of social interaction. I hadn’t thought, though, of setting it to him as a research project–that’s an intriguing possibility. But yes, I think some focused “instruction” about conversational norms is called for, thanks!

  • poprice

    Just a thought… reader’s theatre? I saw some on Pinterest recently for kids. A good way to “play” but then talk about how the playwright mimics conversation and then branch out from there.

    Our 6 yo just started acting classes and wrote his first bit of dialogue. I’m hoping he’s the next Mamet. I’ve always liked New York and Broadway! (Just kidding. I want him happy first and foremost!)

  • tedra

    @poprice: PK is actually really interested in movies and such–that’s a great idea. I will use it!

  • danny

    Hey Tedra, great that you are blogging this adventure! On the basis of no authoritative knowledge at all other than my own teaching, I think your idea about youtube is really worth exploring, as it is now the default format for my students to gain information on everything from fixing a tap to sewing something to hacking their computers. In other words, I think it does what writing used to do. If PK likes cinema he’ll have some interest in the formal language of it, and it also provides a genre of social interaction (e.g. perhaps there will be Minecraft-heads he can pitch his idea to – this might allow other people to take some of the burden of setting the social parameters!). I suspect if he got into it he could spend a lot of time not talking to you and more learning to talk to an online world? Rather than being the only audience, you could become a resource for him to work out what he wants to say?

  • Ingi (@ingidefygravity)

    Are you sure you aren’t me and don’t have my son? Exactly the same issues here re: writing, computer use and verbal diarrhoea. I feel like the most impatient mother on the planet because I can’t listen to all his “crap”. I’ve tried so many things to get him to put thoughts to paper/screen, with marginal success. He will sit and do some maths/science, but with lots of prodding from me to focus.

    I don’t have any suggestions, but if you hit the jackpot, can you let me know?

  • tedra

    Danny! So good to see you. (That’s kind of exactly my line of thinking–as always, great minds.)

  • tedra

    @Ingi: I’m just glad to hear I’m not the only one. And yes, believe me, if I figure it out, I will blog it!

  • pentagonhexagon (@PentagonHexagon)

    I’ve never understood why school has to involve handwriting. Not when I was six years old, not when I was nine years old, not when I was fourteen, and not now. And I was six years old in the 70s, so it beggars belief that we can’t work around the learning styles of kids with all the technological possibilities available to us in 2012 and beyond.

    Between educational apps, interactive ebooks, vlogs and blogs, pinterest, youtube, and so on, there’s no reason for a student to bother with writing by hand as their primary means of expression.

    I’d be tempted to explore art classes, sculpture, painting, clay animation, anything that is a physical means of creating a visual expression of what is in PK’s mind. But that might be a *terrible* fit for his interests (!) and the first, second, third and fourth thing (in my opinion) should be to respond to what captures the interest of the learner…. Music-making is equally physical, even though it’s not visual, and that might also be a useful avenue to explore.

    But getting hung up on *handwriting*?!?! Education as a system makes me despair…

  • max

    Doubtless I am making him feel rejected and adding to his anxiety and squelching his love of learning

    Everyone gets rejected at some point. At some point mama and baby separate. Perfectly normal.

    (I truly can’t actually get myself interested–not least because if I am interested, then I try to contribute to the “discussion,” which ironically ends in raised voices, if not shouting, as he tries to talk over me)

    I have this problem with my mother. Contrary to what you might expect, she’s the one with attention span of hamster on meth. She always wants to talk about the latest geeky thing, which is frequently something I am not interested in. I am like PK, but long ago, I learned to talk to myself. To the point that I can go without talking for long periods. Of course, both me and mom have the power struggle thing going where we fight and yell all the time. (She is a very smart lady, always has been, no attention span. I’m smarter than she is (just being accurate) so I’m always shooting her down which no doubt annoyed the hell out of her. Thus, the yelling.)

    Anyways, you are hitting the problem that ultra-smart kids often have. Very advanced kids pose a threat to a low-level threat to instructors and you’re the instructor now and so now it’s your problem. (I pull this observation from not my butt from a Ph.D. psychologist/teacher who was aware of the problem from experience.) The kid senses this at whatever level, and feels threatened because, well, they’re on the wrong side of the power differential here. Bonus points for the fact that at his age, it’s pretty normal for kids to be expanding their horizons and constantly testing boundaries. ‘Good’ kids do it on the sly, ‘bad’ kids do it in the open.

    I’m ultimately not comfortable leaving him to his own devices so much, but am waiting for a psychiatric appointment in a couple of weeks and figuring out if meds are the solution to his anxiety (and if so, getting the meds right) because I do think that he is self-soothing with the laptop right now.

    From little I have heard over the years, he actually sounds like a pretty normal kid – albeit of the supersmart obnoxious geek variety. So you’re dealing with a college freshman’s brain in an 11-year-old’s body. The anxiety issue sounds conflict driven. (He got into conflicts, and got repeatedly beaten and this made him upset.) It’s hard to tell from here if he’s a normally mentally hyperactive kid or an abnormally hyperactive kid. (It matters: in the former case, he doesn’t need sedation, he needs something to challenge him and consume his attention – in the latter case, lithium is the place to start.)

    That is the good thing about the game-playing – he’s dialing in the challenge difficulty he needs. The downside is that they don’t make video games (yet!) that teach you things you learn in school via old fashioned drudgery.

    This is a sticky wicket you’ve got here, and you actually seem to be doing ok, given the circumstances. But this is not going to go like magic, unhappily. You’re ahead of the game though – you haven’t strangled him yet, and I am reasonably certain that if I had to deal with my younger self like that all day, I’d have certainly considered the merits of rope vs. cloth vs. guitar strings. ;)

    max
    [‘I doubt any of that was helpful, but I figure sympathy can’t hurt.’]

  • km

    Like Ingi, I really hope you hit on a solution and share it! Both of my kids would prefer to talk on and on, usually to me, though it sounds like they’re more comfortable than PK with writing. Unfortunately, the flow of Minecraft ideas is not something that they’re willing to write down.

    My husband puts in ear plugs to get some peace. (Not a recommendation, just sharing.)

  • Aaron Potter (@TwoBodyProblem)

    It’s interesting that he doesn’t like to show his work in say math class but likes the stream of consciousness verbal explanation on Minecraft. Could you get him to write a lab report on some sort of Minecraft assignment?

  • Aaron Potter (@TwoBodyProblem)

    Tell him that if he wants more Minecraft time he has to write a grant proposal as to why he should be allowed to. Ok, that’s just mean.

  • Liz

    I wonder whether it might be helpful to involve him in meditation. Part of the problem might be that he is bothered by a nonstop barrage of mental chatter in addition to the verbal chatter (me too!). Learning how to shut down the fire hose of thought and experience some inner quiet might help. You could introduce it via a geeky route/martial arts/some other more intriguing backdoor route.

  • Eleanor

    My husband is a high school teacher who has some classes with disadvantaged students, many of whom are best placed to identify “arbitrariness” within the system that actually contributes to their disfranchisement. When they show resistance or defiance – say, swearing in class (against school rules) – he has this refrain: “watch your language (or whatever) — that’s a skill”. He emphasises “skills” in relation to the structures in which those skills become necessary, validating the kids’ sense that the school is hypocritical, unfair, out of touch with their reality, confirming for them that the “skills” aren’t natural virtues, but at the same time arming them with information and tools they need if they choose to be valued in the system within which they unfortunately find themselves. He is quite explicit about this with them, and they have big discussions about alienation, entrenched inequality, whether it’s better to be strategic within “the system” or deal with the consequences of being alienated, how valuable is integrity anyway, etc…

    From the days of The Old Blog, it seemed like PK was deeply concerned about justice and fairness in his world and in society at large – maybe if you incorporated some basic linguistic anthropology/sociology with “rules in conversation” you could also include things like code switching and hierarchies of linguistic registers? Things that enable him to precisely identify what it is he chafes at, how his anxiety and discomfort are shared, how to get along when you don’t feel like fighting it, etc. Sort of like how it feels to be a feminist, knowing what make-up signifies in a patriarchy, but consciously wearing make-up anyway — whether strategically or because you just don’t feel like being defiant that day, or because part of you shares the same aesthetic assumptions of femininity because, after all, you are still a member of your society.

    Sorry for the rambling! I also don’t have any experience with what I’m talking about…

  • tedra

    @Pentagonhexagon, I can explain to you why writing matters in school. First, in the lower primary grades, handwriting practice is actually more about fine motor skills than it is about writing per se–having kids practice their letters, etc., is a good way of combining two educational objectives.

    In the upper grades, though, it’s about cost, primarily. Computers are expensive (and in the old days, they didn’t exist), they take up a lot of room, they require maintenance. All those things were also true of typewriters back in the day. Pencils and paper are cheap and small, and for most kids–not all!–they work great.

    I mean, writing and the written word are amazing technological breakthroughs; for thousands of years they’ve allowed us to communicate across both time and distance. They’re important things for the transmission of knowledge. It’s only within our (adult) lifetimes that the ability to communicate like that via recorded voice is available to anyone but a very few–and still, there’s cost and transparency issues (will videos/internet be “readable” in 500 years? They require electricity and fairly complicated physical machines to be read; books don’t).

    A long answer!

  • tedra

    @Max: The anxiety issue sounds conflict driven. (He got into conflicts, and got repeatedly beaten and this made him upset.)

    Pretty much. But it’s a serious problem at this point, hence shrink appointment. Your analysis is pretty good. Also: HI!

  • tedra

    @Kim: will share, I promise. (Also, husband with ear plugs: grrrr. I understand the impulse, but would resent being the one left holding the responsibility bag.)

    @Aaron: I’m actually considering that kind of thing…

    @Liz: Yes, meditation is something I think I need to try with him. Thanks for the reminder!

    @Eleanor: As you probably know, I wish more teachers used that language about “skills” vs. “rules.” I always tried to when I was teaching. And yes, that’s exactly the kind of approach I take with PK over a lot of this social norms stuff. It’s finally working in terms of how he approaches the cats (the key phrase seems to have been “positive interactions” rather than, oh, say, “stop grabbing the cat”, go figure); I guess it’s not that surprising that I’ll need to use it with how he approaches people.

    I have talked a bit about linguistic hierarchies with him already (e.g., swearing)–not code switching yet. But I bet he’d be interested. Good idea! (Also: hi!)

  • danny

    As a relatively bright boy who was a bit alienated from authority, I always learned most when I found people who didn’t so much “know” more than I did, but had committed themselves to the things I wanted to become. That’s where I think the social media angle is so important – it is actually possible for your work to reach a community of practice, in a way that was impossible in an earlier version of the school system. In a certain way, it might be easier for you to think less about “teaching skills”, which as those noted above you cannot (must not in psychoanalytic terms!) embody, and concentrate more about helping him make sense of the interactions he develops with whatever communities “out there” he starts to engage with. Even if he is trolling game development discussion lists he is picking up those “social skills” in a more immediate way than any exercises you can probably develop.

    I think Aaron’s idea of a research assignment on Minecraft (or anything else he’s interested in) is a good one – one of the things you can do that PK can’t is do a quick internet scan to find out what the key components of a successful game are (from academic literature as well as industry discussion) and set some generic research questions that will stretch his understanding of how these components are conceived and produced. Yet this also does put you in the position of “organising” things that you’ve identified that he wants you to do.

    Great to be back in touch! I had a break from the social medias to finish some writing. What you are documenting here is important for all of us who teach (at college level also). xx

  • Tina

    First, so happy to find you actively blogging again – I was a longtime lurker at the old blog. With this new blog, you had me at McGee in that very early post. (Need a biology lesson? Read his chapter on eggs, how they form – gorgeous. Biochem? Keep reading for what happens when they cook. Whee!)
    I also have a son, also 12, also highly intelligent, also a chatterbox. If he thinks it, it must therefore fall out of his mouth. He’s also on the young end of his grade in school, and his social skills are aligned with age and thus decidedly not with his intelligence. (Though I think they’re beginning to get there.) Also, he’s in a gifted program at school and the youngest of four, so he’s had plenty of, er, guidance and interaction — mercifully, it’s not all on me.
    I love what-all you’re getting from your commenters here – what an incredibly smart, cool audience you’ve got. What I’m not hearing much of, though, is what you two might do for you. I mean, the original question seems to me about preserving your sanity, and there are lots of great ideas here for you to turn him loose on, but is it out of the question to ask PK to consider your needs? He loves you, it’s something one does for someone he loves, and he might relish giving you this gift as you’re giving him so much of your energy. Because your time and your thoughts (your sanity) are as valuable as his. He’s a smart guy – he could get it. Can you simply say, at times when he needs to expound on Minecraft or such, “Sorry, but I need to think my own thoughts for a while. Give me half an hour”? Have something in your pocket to offer him to pass the time if he seems at a loss. (Again, lots of good offerings here.)
    Another thing that might help is to establish a rhythm to the day. I had my kids in a Waldorf school in their early years, and this is one thing I got from it that really helped: The teachers structured the day according to a gentle switching back and forth between “outbreathing”—any physical activity like unstructured OR structured play outdoors, nature walk, dancing, sports, playing music, etc.—and “inbreathing,” which was any kind of quiet, inward work such as hearing a story (no visual aids, just the teacher’s voice and the imagination), painting with water colors, finger knitting, making sculptures out of beeswax or out of what they’d picked up on their nature walks …. This was what the little ones’ days looked like, but one can extrapolate: Outbreathing gets the yayas out, and inbreathing allows for learning or expression of learning – energy out, energy in, lather, rinse, repeat, to balance the day. (I realize now that the out- and in-breathing mirror extroversion and introversion, respectively. I’m reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which might shed further light on things. It is doing so for me – hoo, boy! Dig up her TED Talk to start.)
    Continuing the thread of balance, how’s the balance of screen time to physical time? I know you get him out and moving a certain amount each day, but I’m not just talking about activity but about contact with the physical world – a la the caramel thing back in August (did y’all actually make caramel? I can’t remember). Would he be interested in building a physical representation of something in Minecraft, for example? Out of stuff he finds outdoors?
    Could you have a business meeting to collaborate on a structure for your days, with the goal of meeting both your needs (or at least SOME of yours)? Would he be averse to writing on a whiteboard? What if you do the writing on a piece of paper, and then he creates a diagram of it? Infographics! You could research infographics! Visual representations of thought and numbers …
    OK, back to work. Again, looking forward to hearing more. Thanks for opening your doors.

  • tedra

    @Tina, thanks for all the kind words!

    I do, in fact, often appeal to his kindness to get him to stop yammering. I think the reason I’m finding that unsatisfying is that it sort of makes him feel bad; I’m going to try the more explicit “okay, here’s where conversational norms are being violated” thing a bit in conjunction with the “have mercy on Mama” thing and see if that helps. Tried a bit of it today on a walk back from buying pet food, actually, and it went okay, ish.

    Re. business meetings, I’ve been sort of doing that. A lot of what I’m doing right now is trying stuff out and observing: meetings about “what are we going to do and how,” it turns out, he doesn’t want. Not clear how much of that is anxiety (some of it for sure) and how much is just “jeez mom, don’t bug me.” We did have a “meeting” of sorts today while we both worked on trying to figure out how we’d calculate the height of an object thrown from a catapult; we both took different methods of solving the problem. It went mostly quite well; he was very engaged.

    I love the idea of “inward time” and “outward time.” I’ll start thinking about his patterns in those terms and see what happens! Thanks.

  • tedra

    @Danny–thanks re. documentation. Obviously part of what I’m doing with this blog is trying to think about my experiences with PK in a slightly broader fashion–glad that’s working, at least a little!

  • Noah Snyder

    One option to consider would be to have projects that output spoken final outputs rather than written ones. As a homeschooler in grades 9-12, I gave a prepared speech every year. This ranged from talking about the Kennedy assassination to some other homeschoolers, to giving a talk on the prime number theorem in a colloquium series at a local college. (I did this because it was part of the required English curriculum for the PA Homeschoolers high school diploma.) This still requires preparation and planning, but I certainly found it less frustrating than writing. A similar possibility would be PK making a weekly or monthly podcast, which would have the added advantage of getting to learn some sound editing software and maybe website design.

  • tedra

    @Noah–thanks for suggestions! I’ve suggested the idea of videos to him, but hadn’t thought about podcasts; that might be a good idea. He definitely prefers speaking, but so far is a bit sloppy on the “prepared” part, so practicing that is a good idea too. Much appreciated.

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