Q. My son wants to be an architect. He’s really focused on drawing floor plans. I want to encourage him to do things that will mold him. He’s in sixth grade, and we regularly take him into the city, where he loves commenting on buildings. Any ideas about things we can do to enhance his learning? He’s also making cities on his computer, and has a real eye for detail.
A. I started out with wood blocks, and like most kids, making pictures to show my parents was a great start. Just like you do, my parents took me to see the latest interesting buildings. The conversation about what your son is looking at is important, especially if he has good spatial awareness and can visualize ways he might do things differently than the buildings he sees.
My mother was an interior designer, and my father was an engineer who taught college calculus and worked on the assembly of Gemini and Apollo rockets at Cape Canaveral, so I had a solid background combining art, math and science, starting at home. You can do the same, though, since you have the entire universe of educational materials in your phone or home computer. You just need to know how to apply them.
Hand sketching is still important to visualization. Art and science museums are a huge influence. I started art classes at the local art institute in Orlando, Fla., at age 6. (My mom had to lie, because the classes were for kids 8 and older.) Get your son into formal classes.
Before Florida, in Toledo, Ohio, I started riding a bike at age 3, and back before parents had to constantly watch their kids, I rode each day to the new houses being built down the street. I was intrigued with watching houses go together, seeing masons, carpenters, plumbers and electricians each working at their craft. I asked a lot of questions, as a little kid does, and it may sound funny, but the familiar smell of freshly cut lumber still inspires me. Get your son to construction sites. We had no HGTV, but you do, so use it.
Even with a father who lived and breathed math and science, I was intimidated by both until he showed me that you have to look at everything in parts, solve the parts first and understand what the concept and purpose of each part of an equation is for, relating to the solution. Unfortunately, symbols are used in most formulas. Even in college, I wrote out the symbols in words so that I could understand the concept of what the formulas were trying to solve.
Also, a well-rounded background in clubs and sports will ensure a strong resume for your son to be accepted into a good school. I played almost every sport. Imagine being in the marching band at halftime after playing football, and running cross-country on alternate days. Persist and pursue and he will achieve.
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