Thursday, May 31, 2012

Alex's Report Card - Fireworks At Pyramid Lake


Song:  Tennessee 

Artist:  Hans Zimmer



We received Alex's Report Card in the mail a couple of days ago.

He had gotten all A's...
and in four of his classes...
the ones where he had to hand in reports and make presentations - plus another...he got A+'s.

Alex had gotten perfect scores for his reports 
and the presentations on them to his classes (graded separately).

Alex loves monitoring his grades and striving to get top scores.

All during the school year...
as I drove Alex home...
he would immediately go online on his iPad and check
his assignment grades and he would calculate the overall grade percentage.

He takes great pride in his grades.


As he has been working hard on his SAT practice...
after his studies for the day...
and in celebration for his excellent report card...
we went to Pyramid Lake to shoot off some fireworks at the lakeside.

As it is on an Indian Reservation...
many types of fireworks which are normally illegal to buy or shoot... are legal there
(they sell them year round on the Reservation).






Alex and I filling a bag with water...
to extinguish the spent fireworks before putting them in a trash bag.




Shortly after our arrival at Pyramid Lake.

The air was just a perfect temperature...
there was a nice breeze and there were pelicans nearby...
however, after I had shot off the first mortar and the shell had burst...
the pelicans paddled off to quieter waters a safe distance away.





Alex enjoyed the fire fountains.



Alex also liked the sparklers.

He is drawing an infinity sign in the air with one here.


He suddenly posed and said...
"I am the Statue Of Liberty!".



Alex sword fighting with his sparkler.



I had Alex light our last mortar round...


and we prepared to head back home.

I, of course, used this occasion to reinforce cleaning up after ourselves...
no matter where we go.

I told him it is to not only show respect to all others who must use the same areas later...
I taught him that the various wildlife would suffer should we leave our trash around...
besides spoiling the great beauty of the surroundings.

Alex has always been respectful of others...
so this comes naturally to him.

What a beautiful night it was.

We are going to go camping here in the future.

It was just so peaceful here...
so quiet and serene...
that is... until I had started shooting off fireworks  :)
(it was one of three fireworks designated spots on the lake)

In the future...
we will just be coming here to enjoy the ambiance...
to camp... and maybe to do some trout fishing.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vacation Schedule - A Day In The Life Of Alex


Song:  A way Of Life

Original Composer:  Hans Zimmer

Rendition:  Acuity 1980




As this is Alex's summer vacation...
he is on a vacation/weekend study schedule.

Although he still studies everyday...
we have him take things a little easier.

We generally cut back his schedule so that he only has about half
the amount of material to study.  

It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to complete his daily formal studies 
on vacation schedule.


Alex first worked on the essay...
 the critical reading...
and then the math portion of a practice SAT.

We had found out that when Alex must take the whole SAT practice test
instead of just a portion at a time for time...
he has made some careless mistakes.

We think he gets a little mentally fatigued.

My wife is having him practice taking the whole test in one sitting
to build up his intellectual stamina.


Alex relaxing on the sofa while practicing his SAT vocabulary on his iPad.

As of lately, Alex has been concentrating on his SATs.

He takes his first real SAT this Saturday at a local High School.


We have noticed that he has been getting a little frustrated lately...
so we have eased up some on his schedule.

He has but a few more days until his testing...
so it is better to not burn him out mentally.

Because of this...
we decided to just keep him on his normal vacation study schedule (4-6 hours)
instead of going through a last minute mental marathon before this Saturday.




Alex relaxing during one of his study breaks.
He likes going in the backyard to play in the rocks.
He loves the fresh air and the mountain views.

After his break time...
he starts studying with renewed vigor.

After he had finished his studies...
he came into my room and brought in his new iPad.

Alex and I enjoy this one particular app (a role playing game) on the iPad.
I play the same game on my iPad and we are at similar areas in the game.

We talked of magic, mana, swords and dragons...
and tactics and treasures as we both played the game at the same time.

We laughed and enjoyed ourselves for a while...
and then we decided to go grab something to eat...
and then stop at a neighborhood park so Alex could enjoy himself with his EzyRoller.


This is another nearby park.
It is but 3 or so miles down the hill from our home.


They had these exercise stations there.  
Alex wanted to try some of them.





I have never seen this particular park ride before.
It is a roller mounted handle inside a 50' or so rail.
The child holds on and is pushed so he has a very smooth ride to the other end.


Alex had some fun today.
He still loves his EzyRoller.

As it sits low to the ground...
I think he likes the sensation of speed 
as he rounds corners or glides down hills.

We always try to give Alex balance in his daily life...
and something to look forward to.

Tomorrow...
we will be going to Pyramid Lake to picnic 
and have some fun with fireworks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Components For Educational Growth - Part 2 of 2


Song:  Time

Artist:  Hans Zimmer



POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT:


What is Positive Reinforcement?



You simply must read the above article, through the link provided, if you have not already
(it is a very short article).

It will provide the necessary informational background 
to understand what I am talking about.


An important point, as said in the linked article....
you never praise mediocrity.

However, you never hold back your love and affection...
especially as a means of manipulation.

Simply put...
always give plenty of love and affection.

You simply give extra affection and praise right after an accomplishment
 so the cause and effect of positive behavior and positive reinforcement is established.


Before you can even think of Positive Reinforcement...
especially for parents to be...
the standard of love and affection should already be at a high level...
should be constant...
should be never ending.






NEVER...
fall into the pseudo - psychological hogwash claiming that
an abundance of openly expressed love and affection
is what spoils a child.

WHAT RUBBISH!!!

The persons who claim this are bone heads and must not have ever been parents.



It is in the NOT setting and teaching of...
 boundaries...
of right and wrong... 
 other basic morals...
which spoils the child.

Open love and affection to a child gives him
hope and love of everything in life.

I always have an urge to just give Alex a big hug and a kiss on his forehead...
just because.


Children are smart.

Remember when you were young.

You knew what was going on.

You could tell insincerity.
You saw conflicts between words and actions.
You could discern between right and wrong.

In general...
beating...
berating...
bullying a child...
is not only betraying him...
it is a betrayal to all that is good and right.

It is sometimes necessary to scold a child to overcome his stubbornness...
to get him to truly listen.

However, once that has been achieved...
you immediately talk once again...
and truly guide.

To use force or fear as a standard of ruling...
is to "parent" by submission.


To lead by example...
to be ruled by reason 
(yes... you, too, must be reasonable)...
to guide him by showing him what to do...
and how to think for himself...
is to truly parent.





CONCEPTUAL GUIDANCE:



All things...
not just in academics...
but everything in life falls into basic rules of understanding...
of logical categories and sub-categories...
of branches and sub-branches...
of basic governing principles which allow one to predict
outcomes and general paths of efficiency and effectiveness.

These are concepts.

It is the essence of knowledge for which children crave.

When they inevitably ask you "why?"...
it is not the answer to the particular question that they desire...
but the underlying principle for which they may figure out 
ALL other similar problems that they truly wish to understand.

Observe your child's results...
give conceptual guidance when he cannot understand a problem.

Give a path to problem resolution to similar problems.
Show him an efficient and effective route to follow.
Then watch him go forth to conquer his former foe.
You will see his smile and his pride.
He will feel your love for him through your caring guidance.

You are there for him.
Together, you form a team.
Ignorance is your enemy.

He is the Intellectual Knight.

You are the Weapons and Tactics Master.

Knowledge through Conceptual Guidance is your
outfitting him with the finest weapons and armor...
and a solid battle plan.

He will be riding on the Great War Horse of Reason...
which will tirelessly guide him to victory time and again.


In order for a parent to be able to do this for her child...
s/he must BE THERE
(Physically / Intellectually / Emotionally).

p x t = P

p =   Presence in mind, body, and soul...
truly listening and observing...
guiding through concepts...
driven by, and given through...
love.

t =   The quantity of quality...
Time given...
Time spent...
Time shared...
Time immortalized in the child's mind...
Time never gotten back.


P =    Parenting





ADVANCEMENT BY MERIT:


It really is this simple...
when a child has 100% understanding of a principle...
and can demonstrate this...
move on...
not until then.

Will he always be able to answer all related questions afterward...
will he have reached intellectual nirvana?

Of course not...
to expect him to be perfect forever afterward is unreasonable
(however, hoping for it is not :)

There are always the factors of...
forgetfulness...
oversight...
confusion...
fatigue...etc.

To consistently score in the mid to high nineties is not unreasonable.

However, it is not enough.

A missed problem is an opportunity to identify a potential weakness
to correct.

Actually, in the Army it is called...
Go or No Go.

You either know it cold...
or you do not...
and you retrain on the problem until you can perform it flawlessly.

Every so often...
you revisit the old concepts to ensure retainment.

Also...
there is no upper limit.

He may advance at will, to higher and higher subjects...
as determined by his results.

This greatly instills pride.


Now...


Never study by time.
It is far better to study by objective.

It is the difference between striving for a goal...
and pacing oneself to cheat time.

Set the studying goal by results.
The child then becomes internally motivated to excel.
He has a tangible goal.

Lets take long distance running.

If you run for a predetermined time...
you naturally slow the pace down...
especially early on.

No matter how well you do...
you must still grind on until the predetermined time has elapsed.

It goes against human nature to relinquish control...
to subjugate one's pride and motivation to a master (time)...
an external means of motivation as dictated by the clock...
no matter how fast you go...how hard you try...you still must be there for the time.
The goal then becomes one of trying to cheat time by merely seeking comfort
for the determined time by slowing down and not putting in effort.
If one's effort means nothing...then why try hard?
If excellent results mean nothing...then why try to excel?


Now run by a preset distance.

You now are motivated to run quickly...
as you are now governed by yourself.
You control how long you will be on the course.

You have a tangible goal to strive for...
it is under your control.
You may take pride in how quickly you achieve your goal.

You are the master of your destiny.

You are internally motivated.
Your body naturally wants to go...go...go.

You have something to earn.
You may take great pride in your excellence.

When a child reaches the objective...
he may move on...
either to his next lesson (and great praise)
(which puts him nearer his goal for the day)...
or to his free time...
and great praise.

To tell a child to study for an hour...
and to not leave his room until he has done so...
is abandonment.

To give a child a reasonable objective to complete...
with a layout of the day's objectives ahead of time...
motivates him to excel.

It is self governing.
It creates an atmosphere of motivation.
It is giving control to the person.
It is management by objective...
and it makes a huge difference, psychologically, to the child. 

It inspires...
motivates...
and helps create...
excellent results.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Components For Educational Growth - Part 1 of 2



 The Battle Song From The Movie Narnia





Alex, studying at the dinner table, many years ago at our old home in CA.


Alex's mother has always home schooled Alex...
whether or not he was in a formal school.

When he came home from Kindergarten...
he would sit at the dinner table for his mother's advanced lessons
(ever since he was 3 years old...he was used to a structured 8 hours a day of learning).

His formal education is an everyday affair
(although on weekends and vacations, it is modified to just
4-5 hours of formal study - and a few more hours of informal study)...
as this is a key component in developing a culture of intellectual growth.



In my mind, there are...


 Four basic components for educational growth (at home):

Timing Of Structure

Placement

Quantity

Quality



Two basic guiding supplementary components:

Positive Reinforcement

Conceptual Guidance



One inherently adaptable governing program management component:

Advancement by Merit 
(as dictated by results)



While I shall delve into each component
(the first article will cover the four basic components)...
I first would like to point out some evidence toward the merit 
of establishing a culture of education.


Asians...
as a group, excel in academics in America.

Because of race?

NO

It is because of a culture of education firmly established in their households.


Education is highly prized, and throughly praised, in Asian cultures in general
(and this is important...it is fully supported by the parents).

I know in many Asian households...
everything else takes a back seat to the child's studies.


----------------------

*Note...when I say "he" in my writings...it is generic for he or she.

-----------------------


When their child gets home...
he immediately does his homework...
at the dinner table.

His mother may then keep a helpful eye on her child
as he does his studies without distraction.

His mother may then prepare their dinner and easily walk over
to her child and explain concepts to him.

As the child has always had the attention of his mother...
her steady guidance helping advance him beyond his grade...
he sees school as a place to demonstrate his abilities.

Each test is his chance to show his great pride in his efforts.
Each grade is a step closer to what he wishes to be in his future.

Now...
it is not the expectation of the parents for their child to become a doctor...necessarily.

However...
it IS necessary that should he wish to go to medical school...
he could... as a direct result of his accumulated knowledge and academic standing.


So...
with my take on the whys...
let me go into the hows.



Four basic components:


TIMING OF STRUCTURE: 

 As a rule...
initiated as soon as practical...
both, in terms of life...
and day by day.


In general...
humans thrive on predictability as a result of structure in their lives.

With perceived gains toward goals...
in an efficient and effective manner...
they know their efforts are not wasted.

They feel productive and have a sense of time, and of future.

It is not work that humans disdain so much.

It is sustained unproductive effort that becomes mind numbing...
or even worse...
not having a purpose in life due to either having no direction...
or a seen path to reach a goal...
 that presents a sense of hopelessness and depression (situational).

In general...
with correct conditioning of the psyche through effort and reward...
a love of learning is instilled
(through the achievement of closely spaced objectives...
more on this later).

What an early start in a structured educational program does is:

Provide a norm of expectations by being on a Positive Spiral in life from the start.


To know the great pleasures to be had from sustained effort BEFORE the rewards...
is to learn Deferred Gratification
(which naturally leads to a magnification of the reward due to anticipation).

It is to learn one of the chief lessons of happiness in life.

To have a goal is to have a dream.
To have a dream is to have hope for the future.
To be able to actively pursue that dream through efficient efforts
is to enjoy not only the anticipation of the rewards...
it is to enjoy the sense of passion and purpose achieved through the efforts.

It is to enjoy the process, ever more, the higher you go.
The pleasure just builds with each passing advancement toward the goal.

Humans get used to standards...
in either a positive or negative manner.

A person who learns to reap his rewards after the effort...
always has something to look forward to.

A person who learns to reap his rewards before an effort...
always has dread to look forward to.

Once he has claimed his reward...
he has lost his anticipation...
his passion...
his sense of purpose.

That is when his life becomes WORK...with nothing to look forward to...but more work. 

 Such a situation leads to begrudgingly working...
to constantly spend more time and effort trying to get out of it...
than actually doing it.

It is to be on a Negative Spiral.


This applies for the short term, as well as for the long.

To have a child study FIRST...
as soon as he gets home from school...
allows him to truly enjoy what ever time off he has afterward...
without the dark cloud looming overhead of uncompleted work robbing
him of whatever pleasure he seeks.

He is imprisoned by dread instead of knowing, not only true freedom...
but the true happiness of a hard won reward
(a couch potato drinking his normal soft drink knows nothing of the great pleasure...
 and true sweetness, of a cool glass of water after a strenuous workout).

To allow a child to play video games first...
and then have to study, is to condition him to see studying as work...
instead of as a pleasure.

What is seen as work, is seen as a discomfort.
That which is seen as a discomfort...is avoided.
That which is avoided...is not achieved.




PLACEMENT:

A place of study which is in close proximity and of easy accessibility to a parent...
and in a place of high visibility, is not Orwellian....
it has a purpose.

Remember...
with a set place of study initiated early on...
these conditions are not only expected from the child...
they are favored.

He will have fond memories of his mother and father explaining things to him...
of lovingly guiding him in his studies.

A perfect place in many households...is the dinner table.
The chairs provide comfortable seating while still promoting good posture.
The table has plenty of room to spread out his materials, and the whole set up
is usually in good view from many places in the household.

When a child knows that whenever he is having trouble understanding a concept...
that one of his parents will help guide him in his studies...
instead of berating him for not understanding...
and knowing that when he does well...
he will receive praise instead of nonchalance saying it was expected of him...
he is not sitting in a hot seat...
but on a throne.

He strives to do well...
and to have his parent's attention...
knowing that they are his balance pole and safety net...
as he walks the high wire without fear.

He is exhilarated by the audience and by their applause.
He learns to love performing.

His parents may see him as he studies...
and get to know when he is struggling on a problem
by his body english or facial expression...
by a lack of page turning...
or by a lack of writing.

Periodically, they may check on him and monitor his progress.
They may steer him clear of frustration and many fruitless hours
of misguided effort by explaining fundamental principles.

By making his studies a priority in your household...
by making sure there are no disturbances (no music, T.V...etc)...
lets him know how seriously you take his studies.

By letting him know how important his future is to you...
you are letting him know how important HE is to you.

A reason to not have a child study alone in his room is that it separates
so much of what is good in having a parent monitor her child easily...
 and by being easily seen by the child.

It lets the child know that he is not in it alone...
that his parents are there in body...
as well as in spirit.

In essence...
it is not asking how a child did at his football game...
at his concert or recital, because you weren't there.
It is being there watching him perform...
letting him know you were there...
rooting for him...
caring enough to have been there to have been able to immortalize 
his achievements in your mind.

This difference alone makes it worthwhile.

Another important factor is that it takes away any impulse to be diverted.
 He will not be tempted to take breaks before the task at hand has been completed
 (you provide breaks between study sessions).



QUANTITY:

In short...
it is in having him do enough without doing too much.

OK...
just what is this magical optimal amount?

Ah...
this, of course, varies among children...
their aptitude and attitude...
not only from child to child...
but day to day with each child.

You see...
it is governed not by time...
but by achievement.

This way the child is not under control by the clock...
the child controls the clock.

He has every reason to give his effort his all...
as the quicker he understands...
the more time he will have to himself.

It is management by objective.

You have reasonable daily objectives...
(and with DAILY studying...each session may be shorter...
more easily digestible...more palatable).

And...
with each objective achievement...
always give plentiful amounts praise.

Now...
as a child educationally matures...
so will his ability to learn more in each session
(kept within reason - under most circumstances...
a child should have, at least, one hour a day of absolute free time on a school night).

The real test is how well he performs in his studies.


A general rule:

Watch for signs of under stimulation...necessitating more stimulating objectives
(boredom...apathy toward studies).

Watch for signs of over stimulation...necessitating more closely spaced objectives
with more frequent breaks
(rebellion...frustration).



QUALITY:


First and foremost...
100% understanding should be the goal.

Is it reasonable to expect 100% all the time?

NO

Is it reasonable to expect 100% some of the time?

YES


Steady progress comes from not being happy with a 95%...a 99%.
It comes from finding out, after each and every test...
where that one question was that was missed...
finding out why...
the misunderstood concept...
the careless mistake...
and learning it well enough to be able to solve it in the future.

Supplemental exercises from advanced work will keep your child ahead of the class...
so he will look forward to school.

Alex's homework is not finished until we check it.
If we find a mistake...
we have him research it...
and make corrections.

Should he not understand a concept...
we will run him through a similar type of problem until understanding occurs...
or we will illustrate the concept using everyday examples.
He then will be able to understand and answer his previously unanswered problem.


Especially when it comes to math...
we must research true experts in the field to teach Alex the concepts.

My wife is constantly researching new teaching software / DVD / websites
for advanced math, as Alex is not only almost beyond our capability to comprehend
his problems...his rate of learning ensures that he will eclipse our capability to research
and learn a math subject to teach him.  It is just enough now that my wife researches how
to work out a type of problem if Alex gets stuck.  It is long and laborious for my wife.
When my son realizes his mistake....he is off and running once again.



Now...
a large component of true education lies in the ability to correctly reason.

This should be started as early as possible.

Books, educational games and puzzles stimulate reasoning capabilities.

My wife used most of these when Alex was in Kindergarten and 2nd grade
(Alex skipped 1st grade).





With this slider puzzle...
Alex had figured out the principle for correctly sequencing the numbers efficiently
on his own.  From a scrambled position...to correct sequence 1 - 15...
and then backwards...from 15 - 1... took him under 5 minutes. 
 I believe he was in third grade at the time when he would revel in demonstrating this to us.









Alex had quickly grasped the Abacus concept...
although he was already quicker multiplying figures in his head in Kindergarten.







Always remember...
the number one quality in education...
is the ability to correctly reason.

With correct reasoning...
a child will be able to figure out
that which he already does not know.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

iPad 3 For Alex / Reno - Center View Of The Annular Eclipse



Song:  You Are Not Alone

Artist:  Chris Haigh



Alex had gotten back the results of his reports...
all perfect scores...
which means that he is a 4.0 student
(more on this later...when we receive his actual end of year report card).

While we must await the mailed report cards to make it official...
we didn't have to wait to celebrate.


Alex has been doing such an exceptional job in his studies that we
just had to get him a special present.





Here we are at the Reno Apple store...
picking out an iPad 3 with 4G for Alex.

Alex uses his iPad for studying as well as for entertainment.

I gladly inherited his old iPad 2.

Alex deserves the newest iPad as he is doing all of the work.



On our way home, we stopped at a Whole Foods store.

This place was huge.

We bought a few things there.

I must say...
they had the absolute BEST peppered salami I've had in my life.

I bought half a pound, thinly sliced, per my request.

When we got home...
I had salami, fresh sourdough bread, some great aged cheese...
and a glass of wine to wash it all down.




Elephants just outside the store.


They also had an outdoor cafe where we had some of our purchased drinks
before our trip back home.




Alex at home opening his new iPad 3.




Reno was in the narrow band of 100% view of the Annular Eclipse.

This was the view from our backyard.

Although it didn't show up in this shot...
we saw the eclipse and how dim the surrounding landscape had become
during the eclipse.

Alex was more interested in his new iPad...
however, we had him in the backyard to experience this event.

Now he may say that he has seen at least one type of celestial event.


We have had three major ones in the past few months...



Alex has been studying his math at home
and in a week or so...
I will have him do some more essay work also.

But for the first week of his summer vacation...
he has earned a respite.

While he is still studying everyday...
it is just math right now.

We will be planning our family outings soon.

I will have Alex do much of the planning to get him used to 
everyday concerns including planning fuel, food, and rest stops.

I want to get him to be able to put together a complete travel itinerary...
a complete time table of events from start to finish...
so he will be able to plan for future events in his life. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...