My son, 9 and a half returned from the weekend at his dad’s this morning. The first thing he did after a polite dose of weekend description, and a half hour greeting, play and breakfast with the boys upstairs, was play a video game. I let me him loose on it, knowing he’d be eager to play at his own speed, rhythm, but after an hour or so, I encouraged him to get off so that I could use the home computer. He’s now dressing up and role-playing, likely based on the game….here’s my question, is this learning, and if yes, in what ways? Here are a few questions I asked my son and his typed responses.
– Can you describe what you’re doing right now and why you like it?
me and my friends always used to play ARMY, guys with are ARMY, costumes and our ARMY, guns and grapplehooks and boms. butt we stopped doing it so today i was dressing up and inventing new costumes because i want to start doing it again.
– Why do you like the video game you were just playing and how did it inspire your dress up play?
i really don’t know why i like this video game its just really fun , the video game is called tf2 or team fortress two and this video game did not inspire my dressing up at all except the fact that they are both related to modern warfare.
– How do you feel about the strike? Are you going to miss school? Why or why not?
i do not miss school at all because my friends are not in school either.
Ok, that was a fairly painless and simple task. The question still, is this learning? I chose some basic questions based on what my son was presently engaged in, I let him answer them when he was ready, and basically put no pressure on him at all. He’s not very keen on writing, that’s why I chose two topics that he is interested in: gaming and costume / role play.
I am pleasantly surprised. First of all, he accepted my task willingly, he applied himself, asked for quiet, and requested a few spelling tips. He spent about 20 minutes doing this, which felt like a lot to me. I know getting him to do hand-writing in class is like pulling teeth. It’s both a physical and emotional staring for him: his hands hurt and he can never think of stuff to write. I think he finds hand writing laborious and slow, and so loses patience. Because he jumped right in today, I have chosen neither to correct his mistakes nor to discuss his content with him right away. I will engage him in a feed back discussion tomorrow, if it seems he’d like that. What my aim here is to bring out his love of expression in the written form, and to not lose him, as his school writing often does int he drudgery! My boy loves to talk, he loves to tell stories, and reviews of films, he expresses his opinions in volumes and torrents, but has not yet caught the bug of writing it all down.
As a language teacher, I am trained to look at spelling, punctuation, syntax, and content of course, but what is intriguing me and pleasing me most in my son’s answers above his wealth of expression. You can clearly see which two questions engaged him more. Also, he has used a couple of lovely complex sentences and phrases to express himself very clearly. While there are a few mistakes in punctuation and spelling, I can see that D has used comas and periods, a creative use of capital letters to emphasize, and was engaged in spelling. Overall, what is revealed by this exercise is that he does have something to say, and he says it fairly well. Few of these techniques have been taught to him directly, rather he’s developed his expression from lots of discussion at home and school, and a lot of reading and encounters with complex ideas.
Did he write about topics he cared about?
Will he return to this forum again to do more writing?
Did he enjoy this or at least find it satisfying?
Can I track his progress and engage in an expressive exchange with my son in this way?
My guess is yes to all of these, and so for me the answer to the question, is he learning? is YES.
Does your child struggle with literacy skills? Would you like to see her/him writing more? What ideas have you tried to engage your child/ren in writing? Have they worked? Does your child prefer other forms of self-expression: talking, making videos, music and so on? Can these be viewed as literacy? Does your child love reading, but not writing?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Tune in tomorrow, for another day in Strike Days Adventures in Home learning.