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The Tutor as a Playmate

Most of my students are in elementary school. It seems that they all start out finding it difficult to focus on the task at hand. This is cross-cultural as I have some Asian American children and a British family and I worked with an Indian student for a while. I am concerned (what's new here?) with the lack of attention-span that seems to reflect and be a consequence of playing games and watching television.

When kids are "working" on something they love, like perfecting a slap shot or discussing their pets, focus can tune out everything else, but it's hard to get kids to love writing. When it's new, maybe, like the preschooler who is warming up to writing on the white board, each letter of his name a different color. That takes concentration. But why do they think that writing is "so boring?" Maybe they just haven't yet been bitten by the bug.

Okay, so I'm taking the short attention span, and whatever their favorite subject is (a sport, a pet, a favorite food) and have them think about how to describe that thing in a Haiku -- five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables. One boy loves all things "snake." This is one output:

I have a pet snake.
I watch her tongue go in/out.
Smelling tongue is great!