Monday, March 26, 2012

Boys, Math and Zero Tolerance

Recently my 9-year-old son worked with another 9-year-old boy to develop a series of math word problems. This is what they came up with:

Notice a theme?

"Blew up." "Died." "Crashed."

Boys are drawn to violence and destruction, and that's not a bad thing. In fact, that's perfectly, completely, 100% normal. Unfortunately, our zero-tolerance culture often sends our boys a different message -- and that message can harm our sons.

Check out this video by Alison Carr-Chellman:

Now look again at the boys' math problems. In some settings, they would have been told to erase their work and come up with "appropriate" math problems -- an exercise which would have a) seriously undermined their creativity, b) caused them to lose all enthusiasm for the exercise and c) effectively told them that their thoughts and interests weren't valid.

When working with boys, I find it's best to meet boys where they are. Work with their interests, not against them. That might mean letting your son write a poem about farts. Or letting him solve math problems that involve bullets.

I'm not suggesting stereotyping your son. Not all boys are interested in farts and bullets, and all boys, mine included, have a range of interests to go beyond farts and bullets. Use what works for your son, but don't shame him or make him feel "bad" in any way if his interests include violence or destruction. I'm not saying that you need to let your sons stockpile weapons; I'm just saying that there's nothing inherently wrong about thinking or writing about those topics.

Do you agree? Or do you think zero tolerance policies are necessary in today's day and age?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who Wants to Read a Book with Me?

Have you heard about The Mama's Boy Myth? This new book, by author Kate Stone Lombardi, makes the case that being close to your sons is not a bad thing -- that it might, in fact, make them stronger.

I'm intrigued, and I want to read the book. Anyone want to read along with me? I'd love to do a virtual book club and chat. If you're interested, leave a comment. I'll fill you in on the details next week.

And please -- pass the word around. The more "boy moms," the better!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Join My Community!

This past weekend, I had the honor of speaking at the InHome conference in St. Charles, Illinois. I presented 3 sessions: Single Parent Homeschooling, Homeschooling Boys, and Boundless Energy: Understanding (and Respecting) Boys' Need for Movement.

It was an inspiring experience, to say the least! At times over the past year, I have felt like "less-than" a homeschool parent. Three of my kids are in school full-time. The fourth takes classes at school. Because of my need to work, I rarely get together with homeschool families anymore, and no longer attend our local homeschool group.

But you know what? I AM A HOMESCHOOLER! I am a single parent homeschooler who is educating and supporting her sons in a way that makes sense for her family. In other words...the conference helped restore my confidence, and re-doubled my desire to help other homeschoolers, particularly homeschoolers who are educating boys.

So I've started two new projects. One is a Facebook page, Homeschooling Boys. Come join us to discuss the joys and challenges of homeschooling boys. We'll also share helpful tips and tricks. (Today, I posted a video about helping boys learn to write.)

I've also started Tweeting from #HSingBoys. If you're on Twitter, follow me. I'll be tweeting and retweeting info that will help you educate you sons. I'll also be Tweeting my upcoming conference appearances. (Next up: The Wisconsin Parents Association conference in May.)

Come join me! I'd love to hear what you have to say.