Classrooms, learning skills

Boyhood

Fall temperatures have finally arrived in Texas after a very long, hot summer. This weekend, I had the opportunity to take three of my grandsons to the Botanic Garden here in Fort Worth. We meandered through the gardens, having a picnic by the fountain pond, counting turtles by the bridge, throwing sticks in the water, exploring “mysterious forest paths,” and climbing on rocks. The boys led the expedition, and huffing and puffing, I followed.

These three grandsons also attend our school, Shady Oak Learning. Major, age 4, is currently in his “junior fireman” stage after crawling on a firetruck last week on one of our field trips. I consider our outing a victory because he did not fall in the pond. Deacon, age 6, whose favorite color is green and is obsessed with trains, showed his excitement by flapping his arms while looking at all the turtles. Wyatt, age 8, an extraordinary reader, read all the signs to us about the plants, and was so absorbed in the sights and sounds that he ran ahead, totally tuning out my voice calling his name to slow down, since my sore knees could not keep up with him.

This “Grammy Field Trip,” as I decided to name it, inspired me both as a mom/grandmother and as a teacher who is passionate about educational reform. As I observed my grandsons, I noticed how engaged and curious they were. The beauty and complexity of nature gave them endless moments to engage their thinking and wonderings. The boys led the expedition, and even though I feared that they might stumble while claiming a high rock, fall in the water, or go ahead of me and get lost, we made it safely with no harm done. I think that they will remember this for a long time – I know I will!

BOYS ARE AT RISK

Boyhood, in the way God created it to be experienced, is seriously at risk. Boys spend fewer hours moving and playing, and have become “feminized” by our culture’s obsession with safety at the expense of exploration and free play. Our educational system has boys sitting and confined to desks and high expectations and abstract thinking standards have been pushed down to inappropriate ages. Many developmental problems can be traced to a child’s lack of movement during early years.

HOW CAN WE CREATE JOY IN BOYHOOD?

We expect boys to sit in desks at age 5 and be able to read by the end of kindergarten as well as write complete thoughts going into first grade. Last week after giving the SOI Form L (K-2nd ) assessment to a beginning first grader, I lamented the fact that his private school thought he was behind in writing. His NFU score was above expected range, he wrote Continue reading “Boyhood”