by Cynthia Gill (Pam’s older sister and co-author with her of Jump-Starting Boys*)
I always said that I’d rather home-school my boys because I thought the school system discriminated against young boys. This was long before I learned anything about brain development. It was sheer observation: The teachers in lower elementary school demand that boys sit still and write neatly, and that just isn’t a strength most boys have.
So I home-schooled my boys for six years, our oldest benefiting through fifth grade, our second son through third grade. Our youngest had kindergarten at home. They entered the traditional classroom at ages eleven, nine, and almost seven. We lived below the poverty level, but I’d do it again, so great were the rewards.
These were wonderful years: learning by doing, focusing on things they were interested in, having plenty of time to engage in community service and outdoor sports, including camping and hiking, travelin, and emphasizing character development. All three of our boys love to read, and I attribute that to many hours my husband and I spent reading books to them in an unhurried fashion.
Here’s what I learned during that time: Avoid reading practice at bedtime. They are tired, and the stress of decoding words will be magnified. Let the bedtime reading be pleasurable, as you want them to drift off into dreamland with good feelings and happy images floating through their heads.
Bond with your son over a book: Laugh together over a silly story, picture or joke. The endorphins released will not only bond the two of you together; it will impress your sons with the idea that books are a source of good. If they associate books with intimacy, they’re more likely to succeed in the world of literacy.
Excerpted from Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life, by Pam Withers and Cynthia Gill (Viva Editions). All references (footnotes) contained in the book.