May 07, 2010

Teaching Boys...Part 2

In the previous post about this topic, we looked at some neurological and physiological differences between boys and girls. From there, Mr. Pudewa went on to talk about four forms of relevancy and how to connect boys in particular with topics of study. Beginning with the best form of relevancy:

1. Intrinsic Relevancy.
This revolves around a boy's natural interest. (Think knives and swords, LOL.) Go deep and learn a lot about less--don't cover the bases! Otherwise you'll be two miles wide and one inch deep and know nothing about everything. Capitalize on a student's interest and give him increasing freedom to study what he's passionate about. (After all--isn't this one of the reasons many of us homeschool?!)

2. Inspired Relevancy.
Someone you know and love is interested in a topic. Connect kids with people who are passionate about other things. If I'm not excited about a subject, I need to introduce my kids to someone who is.

3. Contrived Relevancy.
You have to do it anyway (such as learning math facts), so you make it into a game. Think of the difference between these two sets of instructions:
A. Underline the 17 prepositional phrases in the following paragraph.
B. Find all the prepositional phrases hidden in this paragraph and you WIN!

A game is an economic system. Rules for an effective game:
A. You have to be able to win.
B. It has to have a potential gain AND a potential loss.

A good example he gave was a 100 Days Chart. This is working toward 100 days in a row of practicing a skill. (His example was practicing an instrument.) Once 100 days are complete, the student earns a prize--that is the potential gain. If the student misses a day, he must start over from day 1! No reminders are allowed! This is the potential loss.

In regard to possible concerns about whether this is bribery, he noted that bribery is illegal or immoral, but a system that gives external acknowledgment is OK. He likens it to receiving a paycheck for work well done.

4. Enforced Relevancy.
Obviously, this is the lowest level of relevancy and the most difficult to work with. A few notes here: Children LIKE to do what they are good at doing. Give them opportunities to keep improving. They also want to do what they THINK they CAN do. On the other hand, they hate to do and refuse to do what they believe they cannot do. A recommended resource here was The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine.

1. Emotional Bank Account--Keep it full, and live off the interest (said Dr. Suzuki). Making a correction, then, does not deplete from the principal. Keep score, literally! Say 10 positive things before saying a negative. NOT false praise--acknowledge the positive. Then, they trust you and believe you when you must correct them.

2. You must communicate that you love and appreciate your child! Otherwise, the lesson won't stick. A smile communicates mutual respect. Why can we be unconditionally loving and accepting of other people but don't communicate that with our kids?! All too often we assume the attitude, "I love you and you love me, now get to work!" Ouch! That hurt! I know I've been guilty of being too work/results-oriented.

Hope these notes were helpful for someone! They are a good reminder for me.

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