Learning and Teaching-Whose Jobs are They Anyway?
Jul 9, 2009 Tutoring/Home School 2399 Views
This is my "OP / ED" page response: It is NOT the parents' job to be teaching their children the 3 R's. If parents believe they must have a teaching degree to assure that their kids will be successful in school, I think they are mistaken. Delivering subject matter and assessing mastery of that subject matter is best left to the experts who are trained and educated to be the teachers.
However, there are things that parents can do in order to help their kids with school work. If you've got a struggling student, here's some ideas to help him/her succeed in school:
#1 Have a plan. Find out from the experts (their teachers) how they would like you to participate. If their advice is to become a "tutor", ask for other suggestions for local resources. Many communities have after-school programs that include tutoring. Most schools expect their teachers to offer after-school assistance for struggling students. And, there are a myriad of self-study programs and supportive internet resources to help kids sharpen their math and reading skills. Find out which your child's teacher recommends for your child.
#2 Become your child's "coach"...not his/her teacher. From the sidelines a sports coach cheers, suggests, prods, cajoles, and sometimes pleads for his/her player to perform maximally...(I repeat) from the sidelines. The coach does not jump into the game, take the ball and score for the home-team. That's the player's job.
Similarly (without the "pleading", I hope), a parent who coaches his/her child does it from the side-lines. An important part of the education process is to personally take action and responsibility in learning. For that reason, wise parents makes sure their children have the tools they need to learn, knowing that it's up to the kids to do the learning. And, support the process by offering encouragement and guidance about persistence, attention-to-detail, courage-to-try, and success-in-small-steps.
#3 Create an environment and family activity structure for learning. Kids can't learn when the TV distracts them. They can't learn if they don't have the books or resources they need. And, they won't learn if parents are unwilling to curb their children's natural instinct to goof-off.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So, it's important to schedule time for schoolwork and learning...and it's crucial to schedule time for play and "goofing off". By creating a specific schedule for both (and sticking to it), kids create a pattern of work and non-work and learn to focus according to the mode they are supposed to be in.
#4 Establish a family culture about learning. If children believe that television is the only information source (because that's where they see you get your information), they will think that learning by TV is the standard in your family. If kids see you read the newspaper or books, they assume that reading is a valuable "norm" within your family. And, if you instill the notion that summer vacation is an opportunity to avoid all learning your unintentionally equating school with learning (and the drudgery of school work with the undesirability of gaining knowledge and skills), you're setting the stage for a resistant learner.
If you want your children to develop a life-long-love for learning, you would be wise to show enthusiasm when you learn something. This isn't just about "facts". Learning how to play the piano, learning about geography via travel or reading about it, learning by exploring topics on the internet, learning how to make a movie or write a story--these are tools to expand a child's interest and awareness of his/her abilities and possibilities.
#5 Explore and Learn with them. Find something you and your child are both interested in and read about it, surf the internet about it, don't be afraid to go on "side-trip-links" (maybe there is a related topic or issue that you'll find more interesting), find an expert to interview about it, find movies or TV programs about it and watch them together, create a project scrap book and collect articles, items or photos about what you've discovered.
Stay involved and interested in what your child is learning about. Do it together. Talk about it. Make learning joint effort.
A life-long love for learning seems to be an endangered species. Kids often see school as a drudgery and waste of time because many don't value the subjects they learn or the way the subjects are taught. Your encouragement and enthusiasm may be the only arrow-in-your-quiver to revive the wonder of learning and the excitement of gaining new skills and knowledge....just for the challenge. Are you up for it?
For ideas about how to "coach" your kids toward success in school (and life-long-learning), you're invited to visit and revisit http://www.HomeworkSuccessNetwork.com. True to the notion that there's a lot of info out there waiting for us, our articles and posts provide tips, cues, clues and links to a b'zillion other resources.