Thursday, April 13, 2017

Can We Give Jack What He Needs to Succeed?

My Student, Jack,
A Chronological 1st Grader
Jack's dad told me 1/17/17 he wanted to pull his son out of BISD if I would homeschool him. Honored by the request, I jumped into its fulfillment with both feet, buying curriculum, textbooks and workbooks that I recently measured at three feet tall laid on 
their backs.  The blog took a remote back seat to teaching this kid.

My initial approach to primary education was rigid, fifties style readin', writin' and 'rithmetic, the same inflexible assault I endured over 60 years ago.

But, I've gotten better at it, more flexible, more discerning, focusing on Jack's actual interests as tools for learning.  When I heard Jack hum-singing the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, I asked him to print out the lyrics and then make a handwritten copy.  He found the lyrics on my laptop in ten seconds or less, hitting Control P to print.  

After he made a handwritten copy, I asked:  "Do you want to read the lyrics like poetry or sing them?"

"I think singing would go faster," Jack answered.(I wish I'd taken a video.)

I'd taken a chance, ordering third grade curriculum for this chronological first grader.  He's blitzing through it, but what is he missing out on?  His peers at Skinner Elementary are taking TAKS tests and learning about Easter.

"Jack, what do you know about Easter?" I asked.

Jack's expression got quizzical.

"Are you talking about Easter baskets?" he asked.

"That's part of it," I responded.

"The holiday originated as a celebration of reproduction, animals and humans having babies.  The holiday symbols, eggs and bunnies, are about reproduction.  It all started with the Babylonian goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth," I explained.

"Oh," Jack replied.

Jack's grandma interrupted.  She wanted Jack to know about the Vietnamese man pulled forcibly off a United Airlines plane.  I watched the interchange carefully as grandma explained how the man's nose was broken, two teeth knocked out and received a concussion because he didn't want to get off a plane after purchasing a ticket.

Jack was wide-eyed, listening, staring at his grandma.   

"Grandma, I think Jack is ready for his strawberry shortcake," I declared.

Another day at grandpa's homeschool.

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