Visiting the Bosco family home for the first time, we saw little hint of the usual trappings and comforts of first world living. For one, there was no television set, and there was minimal storage space in the form of cupboards and wardrobes, and interestingly, a few large picture frames were hung on the wall, devoid of any photos or paintings – simply left empty.
Don explained that it had taken his family quite a few years to achieve a living space that is geared towards the constant creating and re-creating of ideas. It marked the perfect opportunity to get to know a family with a lifestyle that embodies freedom and clarity.
One of the ways that Don educates his children is to equip them to solve problems for themselves. For instance, he shared, “When Mark was in Primary 2, I gave him an English and Chinese dictionary. The teacher told me that it was only in Primary 4 that they would use dictionaries, so I asked the teacher not to tell my son about that. He learned, as a result, to figure out a lot more for himself.”
Make learning relevant and joyful
Don’s approach to learning also spills over to how he imparts life lessons. From an early age, he involved his two sons in aspects of his past and present ventures. For example, designing prints for t-shirts sold through his Internet business and in the creation and writing of stories.
“I think that it is good for kids to have real world hobbies – hobbies that they can take out into their daily lives and use as a basis for interaction. So I thought if they could do something simple (in business), and be given a chance to present a product and improve it, without the usual corporate pressures or timelines, it would allow them to develop themselves,” Don said.
Thus, much of the creative space that Don’s family built into their home is used for their business. Today, Don and his sons work on most portions of the business together, from creating story concepts to designing covers, making arrangements for product distribution and warehousing.
Don explained, “Our businesses do not aim to have immediate results. It is simply immersion into real life. It is giving them the chance to apply themselves consciously to an endeavour, and growing their commitment, or capacity to commit, to something that they already enjoy.”
The value of their labour
When Don’s sons walk into any business, whether a bookstore or restaurant, they see things with very different eyes than a typical kid. Don explained, “They have the ability to not just enjoy the products, but to see those things in terms of what it took the owner of the business to bring a given product to the marketplace.”
Don also emphasizes the main purpose of having an eye for business, “Above all, my goal is to help my sons consider how everyday products serve their community.”
As a result, the main thing his sons focus on is not the bottom line, but about how their product will impact others. “For instance, they will ask themselves, ‘How can we make our friends enjoy reading?’ or ‘How can we turn our stories into things that people read, and in turn want to share those stories with others?'” Don said.
Asked if there was a downside, Don replied, “We get told that we won’t make that much money, but our point is to meet a social goal – a community goal.”
“I try to teach them to be less concerned of their own reward, but to be more aware of how what they do contributes to the well-being of the community.”
Tips for dads of reluctant readers
We wanted to pick Don’s brain on how dads can get their reluctant readers at home interested in reading. He shared the following pointers:
- Maximise exposure – reading three chapters of 20 books can be more effective than trying to read through a whole book. “They need to develop a mental map of what is out there,” says Don.
- Choose books that have a social value – those that contain stories that they will want to share with friends, for instance.
- Know what your child’s interests are, and give him access to those kinds of books.
- Any reading is better than no reading. Which means, comics, magazines and almost anything with words in them, is fair game, subject to parental approval, of course.
- Encourage your kids to share it with you when they have read any good book, then discuss it with them. It is a most powerful encouragement to your children when you take their recommendations seriously!
About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 07-05-2013
Categories: Dads' Stories