During the past school year, my wife and I noticed lots of tears at homework time—but also an amazing ability to soak up information independently. Tony, our son, seemed to be tuning out school, but still to have a vast curiosity about the world around him.
So just what's going on inside that noggin of his? And is there a better way to feed his brain than via the charter school where we've enrolled him?
To find out, we've ambushed him upon his return from the swimming pool, and sat him down for online assessments of his reading and math skills. Because that's the kind of parents we are.
Don't worry, he gets slushies and games of tag with his friends, too. Watch out for the killer bee hive, kid! Just kidding. I had that dragged off on Wednesday. Good fun.
Anyway, it turns out that, reading-wise, he probably should be giving lessons to his teachers. His lowest score is in spelling, where he comes in a little high for his grade level. For word recognition he scores as a 12th-grader, and he's halfway through 11th grade in terms of reading comprehension.
We're not done with the math assessment yet, but the results there are less impressive. Tony is having trouble grasping some concepts he should have a handle on by now. That's probably my fault—my wife has a natural affinity for mathematics, but I needed everything explained to me multiple times before it took. Now, I can pretty much count the fingers on my hands and come up with the same number twice in a row. I think I know whose math genes Tony got.
But this brings us back to his education. Even Tony's charter school works on the common principle that kids are fairly uniform products that work through a standard manufacturing process at a steady rate. His school uses a better manufacturing process, but it's still standardized.
But that standardized approach has never been ideal for kids in general, and it's definitely not ideal for my son. Some kids need different learning teaching methods and more time with certain subjects than other children. Marching them through the grades leaves some kids bored, others discouraged—and many both.
This summer, Tony is taking online lessons in Spanish and math from two different providers. He's learning, and he's enjoying it. He actually pushes to do the next lesson. The next step…
We have some decisions to make, but we're moving toward an education tailored for our kid, both in terms of pace and approach. He wants to learn, and we have to make sure that happens.