Pete's Summer Office
was 8 or so, I instituted "office hours" for Pete in the summer time.
These continued for many summers thereafter, until he was 13. These days
spent in his office were often suspended as the summer progressed, due
to vacations and special events, but if he was home on a weekday, Pete
always knew that he would have office hours.
My reasons for having office hours were:
- to maintain Pete’s math and reading skills over the summer
- to encourage him in activities that I felt were important, but ignored
or mishandled in school
- to teach him the habit of independent work
- to drive home the fact that amazing things can be accomplished by
doing one step at a time
- to teach him to be critical of his work, and to deal with the
criticism of others.
In one room of our house, away from his normal play areas, I set up his
office. This consisted of a desk, many books from which I could choose
tasks, paper, pencils, pens, a ruler, a compass, and a set of 30 artist
markers. Our home computer was in the same room, and this had many sorts
of educational programs installed on it.
addition to the above, Pete had a bound art book in which to do his
sketches and drawings, and a notebook where I wrote his assignments. I
did this every evening after he had gone to bed, so that it would be
ready and waiting in the morning.
last, very important item was a kitchen timer, that he had been taught
Office Hours were from 10 am until 12:30 pm every weekday. Some
activities took him outside his office, but he would always return
before office hours were over.
office hours, he worked alone. If he had a question, or needed help, the
rule was to "do the best you can" and see if that was good enough
when the office day ended.
12:30 each day I would review the work that he had accomplished. He
would show me his drawings or constructions, and describe his progress
in matters that produced a mental result. I would occasionally verify
that things were as he said by having him demonstrate his typing or
review sessions only lasted about 10 minutes each day, and followed the
form of my listening and looking while he showed his stuff. Only at the
very end did I say what I though of his performance. Mostly, this last
took the form of a "critical sandwich". First, I would say what I liked,
then I would point out the areas where he needed to do better, and
finally I would close with the one thing that I liked best of all in the
work he had done that day.
As to the lists of things I had him do, here is a typical list for a
Read your book - 30 minutes *
Mouse Math addition 1+1 to 9+9 for 15 minutes *
Make a Dacta model of a drill - 1 hour
Select any panel from a TinTin Book and reproduce it in your
Art Book (45 min)
Draw a good picture of a cow in your Art Book (20 min)
Do a treasure hunt. The first clue is under Mom's pillow. (15
Pete would look at such a list and decide which items he wanted to do
and in what order.
* items were
required and he quickly decided that it was not a good thing to miss
these as I would give him much trouble if he did.
He had his pick of
the other items, as long as he was still working when office hours
ended. Items that he did not pick tended to show up again the next day,
and to eventually get a * next to them.
Tasks that were not
completed in time were put aside until the next time they appeared on
the list. That Dacta drill above might have taken three sessions to
complete. If he was really stuck, after office hours, I would let him
watch me build the drill (no you can't help) and then tear it apart.
Then, he would have another try during his next office hours.
Tasks that were not
done well reappeared with a *. He might for instance have to draw that
cow up to three times before I was satisfied — or gave it up as a bad
idea. He was allowed to request items be put on the list, and sometimes
I did this, though not always right away. Each morning he would come
charging in at office time to see the list, and then would groan as
often as not. Office hours were not meant to be fun, just interesting
Click here to see a list of more things Pete did during his office
hours over the years.