Homeschooling-Teacher or Coach?Mar 19th, 2009 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: General Homeschool Posts, Homeschooling Tips, Lead Article
Often we are sure we can speed up the learning process if we just impart our wisdom and academic expertise to our children through a “lesson.” So, we set aside time to go over whatever it is we are sure they need to know next, we prepare what we want to say, and we conduct our “class.” Okay, okay, most of the time we don’t go through quite the formal process explained above, but you get the point.
How often do we see our kids struggle through a math problem? Or get frustrated about a writing assignment or a science question where the answer is so close and yet so far away? For those blessed with patience, this is easy-let them work through it. For others who are schedule oriented, it is much easier to step in and show them how.
It is such a challenge to know when to allow our children to struggle and when to step in and solve a problem for them. I hate to see my kids struggle–but I am learning that when I allow them to solve a problem by themselves, they will remember what they have learned much better than they will remember what I did to solve it.
For my 7th grader, Math has always been a struggle and this year is no different. She is actually pretty good at math, but tends to rush and miss key steps. So when a more complex problem comes along, she will turn to me for answers. In the past, I would sit down with her and walk her through each step. However, I have learned to force her to work through the problem on her own, focusing on analyzing the formula and outlining the steps she needs to take to find the answer. Does she find this annoying–absolutely! But she rarely comes to me for help with the same kind of problem more than once.
This principle applies to life lessons as well. We want our kids to grow up to be wise; to make good choices; and to be successful in whatever they do. But sometimes that wisdom can only be developed by allowing our kids to struggle with life on their own and experience the consequences or victories that result from their decisions. What better way to learn? When we approach our children this way, we become a coach rather than a teacher–encouraging them when they are on the right track and steering them back when they are not.
I find myself all too often in “lecture” mode on how to behave, what the right decision in a particular social situation would have been, how their decisions are affecting how others view or trust them . . . all important lessons. But I would suggest that if you are like me–finding it necessary to repeat those same lectures over and over again, then your approach is not working.
I am not saying we throw our kids out there and let them fend for themselves. Rather, that we are willing to take a step back and let them learn from their actions (within reason of course–we do not want them to end up extremely frustrated or in a situation that is dangerous).
Test it out! Next time your child is struggling with an academic question, give him the tools to solve it, then step back and watch learning take place. Better yet, next time he is making a decision that may or may not be wise, let him make it and be ready to coach him through the consequences when they come.
Additional homeschooling posts:
Elementary Education: Flexibility in Learning with Homeschooling for Grades K-5
Customized Homeschool for Grades Kindergarten through Fifth Grades Each child is a unique individual with his or her own way of learning, so flexibility is key during primary and elementary-level education (generally K-5).
Bridgeway Homeschool Students are Taking Standardized Tests Today
I have the priveledge of giving standardized tests to our homeschool students today.