José would gladly tell anyone who asked that the only school subjects he liked were recess, gym, art, and lunch. In his academic subjects, he did as little as possible. His parents were always after him to keep his grades high enough so he would pass.
José was bright enough. He just didn't care about school. He sounded like a teenager when he complained about having to learn “all that useless stuff.” Why learn handwriting when soon the whole world would be dictating into a Palm Pilot? Why learn spelling and grammar when his computer had spelling and grammar checkers? Obviously a calculator could handle any math calculation he might want to do. Why learn geography, social studies, or science? If he ever actually needed to know any of that stuff, it was a few mouse clicks away.
José's parents knew that his spelling and grammar were too poor for a computerized checker to sort out. His reading skills were too poor for him to learn much if he did locate online information he considered important. And of course, without some basic math skills, a calculator wasn't going to get him very far. José's parents might have put him in a private school to see if a different learning environment would motivate him, but besides being big proponents of public education, they didn't have the money. Certainly José's academic record was too uninspired to put a scholarship within the realm of possibility.Life after Television
Instead, José's parents put more emphasis on educational activities at home. Step one was to limit their little couch potato's television watching to an hour a day on the weekends and school holidays and none during the week. Since his favorite shows were aired during the week, he could tape them for later viewing. The next step was to limit his videogame playing to three hours per weekend. His parents moved the computer into the living room so they could verify that he was studying, not playing computer games. They returned to the bedtime-story reading ritual, which they had dropped years ago, and capitalized on José's love of competitive games by incorporating them into educational enrichment activities.
Students who learn best with a different method or at a different pace are viewed as problems. They may dislike school and put little effort into it or have difficulties mastering the material even if they work hard. Fortunately, what matters most is that your child develops a love of learning and progresses academically. Those are things you can help him with at home.
At first, José was irritable, bored, and restless, but in two weeks he began enjoying some new hobbies and pastimes that involved academic skills. The results became apparent when José took some standardized tests at school a year later. Instead of hovering near the fiftieth percentile as in the past, he moved up to the seventy-fifth. His biggest improvement was in the most important subject: reading.