Monday, February 11, 2008

How Many Times Have I Learned This Lesson?

Someone slap me next time I try to impose much structure on my youngest child. Structured assignments work great with my older three, but not my youngest; he puts up with it for a while, then digs in his heels and refuses to cooperate, so we end up spending most of the week arguing instead of doing schoolwork. Sigh. Last week, I gave up and gave him an assignment to do three or four productive things each day (things like reading, practicing his banjo, doing math, cleaning his room) and only specifically assigned one math exercise. The academic results weren’t great, but they were no worse than most weeks and I liked the lack of arguing, so I did it again this week – and he has taken off. He spent well over an hour this morning researching medieval bows and crossbows, and writing a report on them, complete with pictures and a chart; I had no idea what he was working on until he handed it to me. It is the best thing he has done with medieval history all year. Then he cheerfully tackled the mess in his bedroom, a real sore spot, and started thinning old clothes without any prompting. That was nothing short of astounding. I guess I’ll have to stick with “do something productive” assignments instead of telling him what to accomplish, even if it goes against all my organizational instincts.

Now we’ll see how long I remember this lesson…

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