Homeschooling-The Power of DirectionsOct 8th, 2009 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Issues in Homeschooling, Lead Article
We have fought this battle with one of our kids who just hates to take the time to read the instructions first. Instead, she will set out to do the work that she thinks they want. In fact, there are many occasions where she doesn’t even review the sample problems. Before she knows it she has completed an entire assignment incorrectly or she hits a problem that she cannot do and we discover that once again she forgot to read the instructions . . .
We have used a variety of methods to curb this problem (which I will share in a moment) but this recent event (I hope) will provide a lasting impact that no amount of training or systems could provide.
Hannah wears eyeglasses and has been asking for contacts for quite some time. So we recently caved and told her she could get the free trial pair and see how they work for her. Unfortunately, when we picked them up the individual in charge of training the kids in how to use contacts had left early due to illness. Not a problem for us (we thought) because my husband has been wearing contacts for years. He would train her.
And he did. He showed her how to put them in; what to watch out for; and what to do if she struggles. Together they got the contacts into her eyes and off she went.
But on day two, he was at work when she was ready to put them into her eyes again. And I don’t wear contacts. I could explain to her what I had heard but I couldn’t really teach her what to do.
After about 20 minutes of struggle, I finally pulled out the bag that came from the eye doctor and found an instruction sheet. This one had clear step by step instructions with a picture for every step. In no time, she had the contacts safely in her eyes and was ready to go.
Her response . . .”The Power of Directions!”
Of course I took that moment to draw an analogy to how powerful directions are in homeschooling as well! So far, so good. All I need to say when she hits the books is “Where is the power?” and she knows just what I mean.
Will it last? Who knows? But at least it has made the last few weeks a success.
Other methods we have tried in the past:
- Underline the instructions
This worked at first but soon she was simply underlining without really paying attention
- Highlight the key words in the instructions
Works much better–also helps to teach how to find the main point
- Summarize what you must do before you begin (either verbally or in writing)
This works great but requires me to be on hand if she is doing it verbally
- Write in 5 words or less what you are supposed to do
(The writing teacher in me trying to teach two concepts at once–reading the directions and writing concisely)
Anyway, for now we are simply using the “Where is the Power?” question and hoping that with consistency we won’t have to go back to these methods. Bottom line is, it all comes back to taking responsibility for what you are doing.
Additional homeschooling posts:
History and Homeschooling-Teach the Truth
My eyes are opened more and more every day to the fact that the History our children study through secular publishers is inaccurate.
Avoiding Homeschool Drama
As Moms and homeschoolers, it is so easy to let the little things become far too big.