7 Ways to Keep the Learning Going

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Photo credit: BreonWarwick from morguefile.com

 

Frustrated with learning?

Feeling overwhelmed?

Feeling that your not doing enough?

I’m hearing lots lately from homeschool parents that your child is not learning enough these days; yet they feel as if they’re doing all they can to support their children. Are you one of those parents?

If you are, you’re in good company. If you ever feel like your course is, was, and will forever be straight and true, you’re fooling yourself. Yes, you may have chosen wisely, but that doesn’t mean you won’t doubt yourself, your child, and your ability to provide the best education for your child. You’re only human, after all.

Teachers feel it too. They know they can’t reach everyone, every day. If your child was in school, he may have greater access to a community of learners, more access to technology, greater access to alternative methods, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’d be doing more learning.

 

1. Identify the problem.

First, identify why you’re feeling this way. Is it because your child is struggling, bored, lonely, seeking novelty, seeking structure, in a rut……The list goes on and on. Don’t give up and brand yourself FAILURE because learning needs a facelift. Would changing the curriculum, skipping a section of work, getting rid of the current plan where the struggle resides help? If so, you found your dilemma. If not, keep digging and keep talking to your child. It’s HIS learning and his feelings and perceptions count. Respect your child enough to involve him in the process.

 

2. Offer choice.

Consider your choices. Consider your child. Allow him to make a new choice (one that you can live with and abide by). Give it some time. Set a plan in motion that will allow your child to temporarily work out the kinks. Give yourself and your child at least 3 weeks to see if it’s workable. If not, revise again. Life is about learning- and I don’t just mean your child’s learning.

 

3. What’s your focus?

I bring up this concept often, but it’s also the one idea that gets overlooked often by most people (whether homeschooling or not).What is your focus for learning? What is your child’s focus? If your child is intent in learning all about space and you value the written word, you have a split focus on your learning plan. You’ve got to inject science in your writing! Voila! Let’s say your child HATES writing. What about a blog, captions, cartoons…? How much power are you willing to hand over to your child for his learning? It depends on his age, maturity, and your perceptions of learning. Identify your goals, compromise if they conflict with your child’s goals, and then build a better education. It’s doable, though it will take work, but isn’t your child worth it?

 

4. Everything counts.

I’m in a unique position having experienced ALL kinds of learning situations (most from the teacher AND learner perspective). The biggest issue that arises with children’s learning is that adults feel the need to control the learning. You are fooling yourself if you think you’re in charge. Yes, you’re a guide. Some teachers are really good guides, but you’re a guide. Your child WILL wander off, your child WILL go through the motions of learning while not digesting a single word, and your child WILL make his own choices. Well, now that you’re depressed, keep in mind that EVERYTHING COUNTS. You are learning almost EVERY MINUTE of your life. Sometimes it’s book learning, sometimes it’s life lessons, but know that they affect each other and none of it is worthless. Even when your child is avoiding learning (like mine is at this very moment), he’s learning. He’s dealing with emotions (or will be soon). He’s learning time management, focus, the effects of procrastination, bargaining skills, and self-esteem. To those of you who say those skills are less important than the math planned for today, ask yourself if you’re really serious. Everything counts in learning. Life is learning.

 

5. Read.

Luckily, it’s the one thing that I can pat myself on the back for having done right. Reading. I’ve always loved reading and though my boys read in waves- sometimes hours at a time for days and sometimes not for days or maybe even weeks, it always comes back. Even in our world of technology, reading is crucial. If your child isn’t a reader, don’t give up hope. If he’s reading game guides (like for the Wii games, etc), comics (mine devour Garfield), or even the rules to his favorite online game, he’s reading. It counts. Much of what adults dismiss as “garbage” that kids read is more technical and involves a higher level of vocabulary than the books your child would find in a reading class. Yes, I’m a Hemingway fan, but Dav Pilkey helped my kids become readers.  Don’t fret if your kids read the same series over and over- they’re reading. Don’t fret if they seem to have memorized the words-they’re reading. Reading can take you anywhere.

 

6. Talk

Stop talking AT your kids, but instead talk WITH them. Ask them questions, ask them what they think (in the most non-judgmental tone you can muster). Instead of rolling your eyes when you hear the word Minecraft, push through (you’re the adult, after all) and ask them the difference between a ghast and a squid. Their faces will light up (or they’ll think you’re really stupid, which is fine too). Ask them how you get from creative to survival mode. Involve yourself in their lives and their learning will improve too. You care. You know you already do, but by showing that you’ll take the time to LEARN about their world, you’re showing them- you’re modeling an interest in their love of learning. It may not be the style that you value, but they are learning. Find out more. Relate what they’re learning in their world to ideas going on in the world you value. Connect the two. It will build connections in their brains and you’ll learn more about the relationship you have with your child.

 

7. Take time and space

So much of the world is rushed these days. If you realize that, you must also translate that understanding to the world of learning. More is not always better. If your child knows ALL of his alphabet, that’s great, it’s valuable. If your child can name all of the capitals of all of the states you better start shooting for Jeopardy because that’s the only place that will find value in that “more” kind of learning. Yes, memorization has its place, but it’s using that memorization to do other work more efficiently that makes it valuable. Instead, trim down the content and dig deeper. Give breaks. Breaks may last longer than you like and you may worry about “lost time”, but think back to your years at your child’s age- how much of your classes do you remember? Yes, you used that knowledge and those skills to build on learning later in life, but trust me, you’ve forgotten a good chunk of it along the way. Prize the valuable learning and let the rest slide. Take time and space for your child to value the learning.

 

So, keep in mind that learning continues on whether you’re in control or not. If you’re more curious about how, you might want to check out a recent post of mine.

 

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