My Kid Learns More When He’s Home Sick Than at School

631byou wouldnt want to be a sumer My Kid Learns More When Hes Home Sick Than at School

We’re on day two now of my son’s stay at
home with a creeping respiratory crud that’s been tearing through
our piece of the world. I only shook it loose from my own lungs
after a course of steroids. While he’s been home, aside from the
fact that seven-year-olds bounce back a hell of a lot faster than
forty-somethings, I’ve noticed that my kid sops up knowledge more
quickly from a stack of books by his bed than he does from a lesson
plan at his school.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the kind of taskmaster who keeps my
kid bent over homework when he’s home with the sniffles. If he
wants to watch Phineas and Ferb or play with his vast
collection of toy soldiers, that’s fine by me. But he has a natural
curiosity, which he feeds with regular doses of some very well done
children’s books. In particular, he’s long loved the You
Wouldn’t Want To be … series and he’s recently taken to the
Who Was…/What Was … series of biographies and
histories.
The You Wouldn’t Want To be … series is a graphic
novel-style presentation of historical subjects laced with enough
gruesome images to excite the imagination of any kid. We own a few
copies, but this week’s favorite is
You Wouldn’t Want To Be a Sumerian Slave, borrowed
from the local public library. It features historical tidbits,
battle scenes and depictions of backbreaking labor. It’s also a
great introduction to ancient Mesopotamia and has reopened a
continuing conversation about the concept of slavery and its
prevalence through history.
Also a conversation starter was another library book,
What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? The book’s
discussion of Confederate troops’ relatively inferior armament led
to Tony peppering me with questions about the comparative strengths
of the Union and Confederate states, and the advantages that an
industrial power has when fighting one that’s primarily
agricultural. Somehow, we then ended up in a discussion of the
ethical implications of attacking hospitals and of disguising
non-medical facilities as hospitals … Anyway, you see how this
works out. Of course, Tony has been reenacting Gettysburg with his
toy soldiers.
This Who Was … series of books also led us to buy
tickets for a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit, based on a biography of
the man that fueled Tony’s enthusiasm.
My wife and I discussed homeschooling, but we’re not doing it
for the simple reason that we both want to work at careers we find
rewarding. But when I see my son’s natural curiosity at work, and
his ability to turn a decent starting point into … not some dry
lesson, but a learning experience, I marvel at the ability of
schools, even decent ones like the charter we’ve chosen, to suck
the joy out of absorbing knowledge.

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My Kid Learns More When He’s Home Sick Than at School


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