Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pirate Homeschool

My son enjoys pirate-related things. He likes pretending to be a pirate. Here he is at his Suzuki Book 3 graduation recital. He is the on on the... left.

This morning I took all of our pirate "gold" and put it into a little "chest." I told him he was a pirate in my employ and gave him a list of jobs he could do to earn his loot, and a list of prices for things he could buy with his treasure.

Payment opportunities:
Math cards: 5 gold
Math on the computer: 2 gold
Latin test: 4 gold
Rosetta Stone: 2 gold
Spanish workbook: 4 gold
Math workbook: 6 gold
Paint: 1 gold
Violin: 3 gold
Piano workbook: 6 gold

Spray park: 15 gold
Planetarium: 15 gold
Cookies (2): 1 gold
Watermelon slices: FREE!

Something special. Just for today. He's busily earning his gold, and he asked first to do math workbook. He hasn't asked to do math workbook in months, in fact I had trouble finding the darn thing because he's been doing all his math on the computer. Interesting.

I have been known to do some silly things to motivate him to do school work. For example, the other day I put three little bells in circle outlines on a piece of paper, with the associated tasks written under the bell. When he finished the task, he could ring the bell. Strangely motivating. He wanted to ring them. Schoolwork was finished rapidly without discussion.

When I first started this parenting thing, I found myself sometimes thinking, "I don't want to start that, because I'll have to do it every day/week/whatever and I'm not prepared to do that." That thinking was wrong. It is always worth it to start something, to do something, to try something, even if you don't want to do it every day or every time, because the one time you do it, it'll be great for your kid. And chances are, by the time you would be called on to repeat it, you've thought of something else to do.

I remember thinking once, "I don't want to take this long way around on our walk, because I don't want to walk this far every day." Wrong thinking. There will be enough days ahead where you are too tired, or it's raining, or you think of a different route, or you go bike riding instead, to limit yourself to doing only things you can always do.

I can remember thinking, "I can't maintain this, therefore I shouldn't start this." Can I think of a new trick to play with schoolwork every day, new bells and whistles, new circuses to put on? No, and I shouldn't. But there are plenty of days where we just bang through a short list of work so we can get out the door to the playground, or where we do no "real" schoolwork at all. When we have a full day at home and I want to accomplish a lot of school, it's worth it to put on a little show. I don't have to ever repeat it.

Don't limit yourself to a level you can maintain. Go the extra mile on only one walk, talk like a pirate for only one day, stay at the playground for three hours, take a ride on that escalator, even if you don't want to do it every walk, every day, every trip, every time you walk past. "Just once" is worth it.

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