Thursday, May 9, 2013

Twelve more years... And counting

I'm worried. Less than one year into his thirteen year public education journey, John began stating on an almost-daily basis that he didn't like school. Not good, buddy. You've got twelve years of this in front of you. 

I LOVED school. I cannot grasp the concept of not waking up every morning ready to sit in class and learn everything I could. I'm pretty sure that on the last day of second grade, I cried because I had to wait three whole months to go back. John? Notsomuch. 

I encourage him every day to tell me what the best part of his day was, to talk about the most fun thing he did at school that day. Inevitably, the answer is recess, or PE, or on a really tough day, lunch. Lunch. Seriously??

So this morning while I was getting ready, and I got my regular visit from John to say good morning, I asked him what would make today a fun day at school. He couldn't think of anything, so I prompted him with, how about math? You're really good at it, and you like it. He shook his head, and said no - it's not that fun, because it's too easy. He said his favorite days were when he got to play on the iPad during centers, or the computer during library. 

I persisted, of course. I am only half joking when I say my kids can be anything they want to be, as long as it's a scientist or an engineer. So I started back with the math. Math is really important, I said. In fact, I use math every single day, almost all day long. 

John was dumbfounded. What kind of math, Mommy?

I launch into my typical too-much-for-a-six-year-old explanation about retail prices, how much things cost, how my customer makes money, how I have to figure out dollars and percents. John looked serious, and said, do you have to use a calculator, Mommy? Because money is usually big numbers, and you need a calculator for that.

As a matter of fact I do, buddy. 

Seeing a slight glimmer of interest, I went on, explaining that I also get to use the computer to do math, and that's when it hit me - John is into computers. John is into video games. Programming is math, and science, and logic. So with the (lack of) wealth of knowledge I have about programming, I tell John, did you know there are people whose whole job is to create video games? They use math, and numbers, and have to solve problems to make the games that you play on the computer!

Bingo. Eyes wide as dinner plates. 

I felt the tiny little triumph of figuring out a small way to motivate my son. I'm not sure he'll ever know anything about writing software or creating programs, but if it stimulates at least a little bit of interest in school, than I'll leverage that for everything it's worth. 

Who knows - someday, Angry Birds John John could be the Next Big Thing. 

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