Pedagogy, differentiation, collaboration, Frayer model, and guided reading are all buzzwords in education. Seasoned teachers know what they mean, but you probably do too without realizing it. There are a zillion different ways to teach your child and there are popular approaches, radical approaches, traditional approaches, and “new” approaches that aren’t really new at all. The only thing you really need to know is….
Do whatever works!
I can’t really give you a Must-Do list since I don’t know your child, his interests, her strengths, his weaknesses, her previous experiences, or his favorite approaches, I can recommend ways to NOT teach your child.
1. Do NOT demand your child follow the 1 approach that works for you.
This is my #1 gripe about classroom instruction. While many classrooms are turning towards more and more standardization these days, your kid is not standard. It may appear that she easily adapts to any instruction and maybe she does well enough, but she may also be afraid to admit that while she can follow the instructions, she doesn’t really understand what she’s doing enough to apply it in other ways. But, a different approach could be the difference between doing the minimum and stretching her wings. Try different approaches! Google or Facebook for some help and be prepared to learn a new approach yourself.
2. Do not have your child complete ALL of the work ALL of the time.
When you’re cleaning the house, must you clean the ENTIRE house at once? We clean for different purposes; to organize, to get rid of dust, to clean up a spill, “spring cleaning”, and more. Your child’s educational work is the same.
Ask yourself about the purpose of the learning and make sure the work matches the purpose.
i.e. If your child is working on adding fractions, does the work reflect a variety of fractions? Are there some fractions your child can add mentally (1/2 + 1/4), some that are typical (1/5 + 3/10), and some that are more difficult (3/7 + 2/9)? If your child easily can accomplish one level, why assign 20 of each level when 5 may do? Most boxed curriculum ensures that your child has plenty of practice just in case. If your child understands one concept, move onto a further, more complex concept, but stop when he’s had enough or begins to show frustration. Frustrated brains don’t think-they react.
Practice is only practice if you’re still trying to figure it out. Once your child has demonstrated competency, a quick review is all you need for reminders. It’s okay for your child to finish early. If he’s got it, he’s got it.
3. Do not demand adherence to unnecessary directions.
Whether it’s your direction or directions from a workbook, if it’s not necessary, why MUST he do it?I s the purpose to write neatly (readable, is ok), to ensure quick recall of multiplication facts, or is it to understand the concept of addition of fractions? Pick a skill, pare it down to what your child needs, and move on when that’s been accomplished.
Sometimes, we can get caught up in the “respect” or “authority” trap. There’s no reason for anyone to do something that doesn’t serve some kind of purpose. Pause the next time your child is butting heads with you and ask yourself, is it necessary? Is the purpose of writing the entire sentence to demonstrate the use of punctuation or because it looks nice? Can circling the answer or answering verbally work; and maybe save time and stress? Think logically instead of demanding “because it’s there” or “because I said so”.
4. Do not believe all learning comes from a book.
Books are great. Audiobooks hold learning keys too, as do computers, videos, hands-on projects, mentor programs, cooking, managing money and so much more. There are a million and one ways to teach and learn. Don’t be fooled into believing that sitting down with a book is the only way.
5. Do not forget about the soft skills. P.S. They’re usually the harder ones to master.
When is memorizing the periodic table easier than learning to manage your frustration? Almost always. Schools and curricula tend to focus on content instead of the soft skills. Who cares if you know the classification of trees if you can’t figure a way to represent your knowledge, understand how to research using reputable resources, sift through evidence, and persist with designing a presentation. On the days when the book knowledge isn’t working, focus instead on coordination, comparison/contrast skills, social skills, and patience. You just might find out that you haven’t yet finished learning yourself.
6. Do not forget to breathe.
You are teaching your child more about life and how to manage learning when you role model patience, persistence, and are open-minded enough to let it go sometimes. Learning isn’t all about academics. Don’t forget to take time before, during, and after the more formal learning to notice your child’s progress, re-focus on approaches, and give it all a break. Your child won’t remember most of the days of book work, but he will remember you taking time to include him in your life. That only comes when your stress levels are low enough to enjoy life and you can enjoy the time you have with your child.
Teaching a child is a constantly evolving and very personal process. It’s more so for those of us who homeschool. When the year ends, as homeschool parents, we don’t get to send the kids on their way and wish them well. We pick up where we left off, make slight changes, or re-work the whole learning process. It only ends when our children have learned more about life from us in a multitude of ways and when we’ve glimpsed their futures. Hopefully, we’ve done our homework and prepared them enough to find their own ways once we set them loose on their path to the future.