Homeschooling is tricky sometimes because some parents try to mimic mass (public or private) education. The home is a different setup, a different structure. Once you realize this in a profound way, then you can start thinking about who is really teaching whom!
We believe the student is the real teacher in a homeschool...here's why!
Fred Ray Lybrand
In the last letter we looked at the fact that FRUSTRATION is a big part of learning, but becoming a good learner isn’t just about overcoming frustration. There is a second thing that explains what makes a good learner.
What is the One Word that Explains Why Some People Are Learners and Some People Are Not?
It’s definitely not the word intellect!
There are bright people who don’t learn and average people who go on from learning to learning. If you’ll just pay attention to yourself you can figure this one out! When have you learned your best? What was the subject? Why were you so interested? Do you think this is any different for children or adults?
My guess is that you are thinking you were ‘interested’ or ‘entertained’, but neither of those explain it. Let me give you a personal example. I used to hate music…and I hated musicals even more! The Sound of Music honestly used to wig me out…but today I love musicals (I’ll tell you why in a moment). Now, I’m not trying to tell you a secret for liking things you hate, but rather to learning things that don’t interest you. More importantly, this can a big difference with helping your children learn.
What is the secret? Well, in the last post we discussed the fact that FRUSTRATION is a key. Of course, it’s true–unless a student learns to tolerate frustration, there isn’t much of a chance to learn. Instead, they’ll just blame the teacher, the system, or ‘the man’ (whoever that is in each context). While learning to tolerate frustration in order to learn is important, it isn’t the reason some of us learn things and others don’t.
Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to change how you feel about a subject so you could immediately and joyfully begin to study it? Well, it isn’t only possible, it is likely, if you’ll make use of this one word:
Learning always involves curiosity (the exception might be when fear is forcing someone to learn something he otherwise isn’t interested in).
Curiosity draws us along as learners. It adds intrigue and mystery and hope to the effort. If you are curious, then you have the energy to satisfy that curiosity. You want to know (learn) because that is where satisfaction is…not knowing (learning) is dissatisfaction and angst (the good kind).
With music (and musicals) and me , one day I asked a new question, “Why do so many people like musicals, The Sound of Music in particular?” So, armed with that question I found the answer… a part of which, is that you must realize the movie’s ‘universe or world’ isn’t the same as our own. The rules are different there so people can break out into song to communicate (yes, I was missing this point). There are other reasons, but I’ll leave that to your own curiosity.
Make it Useful
OK, so Dr. Lybrand, what do we do with this info? Well, if you are a teacher of any kind (and especially if you homeschool), then why not invite more curiosity in your students? I did not say ‘make it more interesting’ here. How could you make curiosity happen? The easiest way is by asking questions. Specifically, something like, “Who…what…when…where…why…how.” Or, “What would you like to know about this?” Who would learning this subject help? How does this work? Why is studying this subject valuable? Where will you use this if your really learn it?” It’s even better to think of your own ways!
Well, you get the idea. Here’s where to start— Start with being curious about helping others get curious about their own learning. If you get curious about learning and teaching…you’ll figure it out.
How do I know? Well, you’re curious aren’t you?
Think about editing for a moment.
All it involves is going back through something written and looking for two things:
1. Any mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.
2. Any ways to say a sentence or phrase better (as needed or desired). Both of these are much easier to do if the child reads his/her own paper out loud.
Reading it out loud is exactly what works because writing has always been about getting someone else to read your work the WAY you want it read. This best comes about through SOUND! When we read our own writing the way it is written, we can see things to change with much greater ease…it is often obvious. It isn’t a perfect approach, but it helps a great deal…especially as this ‘feedback loop’ aides in hooking up your child’s brain (visual and auditory).
Try this: Before you grade / correct the next writing assignment (even copy work), have them go off by themselves and read the paper out load, making any ‘tweaks’ they want to. I bet you’ll see the mistakes drop and the quality go up! I sometimes find so many mistakes (for that child) that I ask, “Did you read this out loud?” Often they admit they didn’t…so I send them off to really edit. Other times, I just send them off to edit again if it is loaded with mistakes. I don’t want to take their own opportunity to learn to edit away…and I don’t want to waste my time doing their responsibility.
P.S. Yes, I read this out loud!
I want to encourage everyone to avoid underestimating the value of feedback in learning anything (especially writing). It is so important that you can simply rest on the fact that without feedback there is no learning. Imagine a golfer NEVER KNOWING where his shot lands, or never hearing a putt go in the hole. Learning the sport becomes impossible. Public speakers almost always improve if they have folks critiquing them (or can watch themselves on video). A singer cannot possibly stay on key (or improve) if she NEVER HEARS her voice or the other instruments. These are all FEEDBACK mechanisms.
Now, since writing is about the scariest thing anyone can do (it is permanent…written…can be passed along), we rarely seek feedback without some significant growing up! Since we are educating our kids, we can just baste (cooking definition) them with it anyway! But, you must do it right (or, at least, right enough).
We have video training for giving feedback in the unique way we’ve designed (for grammar, punctuation, spelling, creativity, etc.), but let me tell you the essentials:
1. Use a RED PEN to mark things your student should improve (correct)
2. Use a GREEN PEN to mark things your student should do more of (encouragement)
3. When making suggestions use these exact words, “Does this sound better?”
4. Don’t overwhelm — Instead, please focus on one or two things at a time until mastered (example: Just work on capitalizing the first word in a sentence if that’s an issue).
P.S. Here’s where to learn more about us: www.advanced-writing-resources.com
The following was my response to an enquiry about a child who doesn’t know what to write during the writing part of the homeschool day.
Even though we don’t yet know the exact details (always best to find them out because each situation is different), I will throw out some additional thoughts to the excellent stuff several of you have posted.
In The Writing Course we explain how we can always write because everything reminds us of something. When kids don’t write it is almost always an issue of fear or control…not an issue of writing. If a child knows that he is just trying to write OK, and he knows that he can’t really think up what he is going to write before he writes it (this is in the course too), then all that is left is to learn how to make use of his own mind’s ability to associate. I show them how to use their own name.
I’ll use my middle name RAY (yes, I am Fred Ray…hey…born in Alabama) and come up with three words:
R – rollercoaster
A – airplane
Y – yarn
So, all I’ll do is start writing something OK involving those things.
Petula was always scared of rollercoasters. Even when she flew over the County Fair in her uncle Ceadric’s airplane and the rollercoaster looked very small and safe, she just couldn’t remember that feeling when she got near the ticket booth. Today was different. She was going to conquer the rollercoaster! Maybe it was the way the kitten played with the yarn, she couldn’t really say. But, she did notice that the kitten fell off the counter three times. After each fall it just climbed up again to win the prize. “If Tinker can keep trying for a ball of yarn,” Petula said in a squinted whisper, “Then I can ride a silly rollercoaster.” With that she grabbed her uncle’s hand and walked toward the booth holding a paper dollar she had gotten from her Hannah Montana wallet.
Well, you get the point. At the very least (if a child doesn’t know what to write) have him:
1. Do copy work (that will eventually motivate him to make up something more fun)
2. Write a description of something outside the window or of a couple of items in the refrigerator.
3. Use some of the other ideas mentioned in this group
From my book…The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change I have a problem with being consistent, and sometimes it’s just because I am too tired. How can I overcome this problem?
Inconsistency and tiredness are usually a sign that your child or children are somewhat “out of control.” I don’t mean that we as parents don’t get tired, but if the state is constant exhaustion, then something surely is wrong. Consistency usually comes when both parents participate in the child training process. With both parents, you are able to keep one another encouraged and accountable. Usually, the problem of staying consistent comes from a parent who is too consumed with meeting the child’s needs and making sure the child “likes” him or her. One of my professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks, has often said,“When you do something for someone when he can do it for himself, then you make an emotional cripple of him: Chances are, unfortunately, that if you are inconsistent, you are somehow being encouraged to be inconsistent and the real learning you (and they) need isn’t happening.
Remember, if you see it, it is encouraged. The best idea I have for consistency is for you to take the Four Magic Questions and apply them to your inconsistency. You may find a very simple solution such as telling your children that every time they get you to do something for them that they can do themselves, you will give them a dollar bill. I suspect, unless you think so little of money, that you will change your consistency problem rapidly.
So…what are your thoughts on Consistency?
Well, what do you think? Is Rosemond overstating it?
“To me letting a child use the Internet unsupervised is akin to letting a child walk thru the red light district in Amsterdam without a guardian,” explained Rosemond. “It’s a very, very dangerous thing.” -John Rosemond http://www.live5news.com/story/14685559/parenting-expert-talks-about-facebook
Well yes, it is dangerous. There are lurking charlatans and obsessive addictions just waiting to happen. And yet, a wealth of knowledge is also at our fingertips. We can connect with old friends…or wind up rekindling an old romance into a destructive affair. We can save money or lose a fortune.
In my years of pastoral counseling, I have seen it all (I really think so…from the psychotic to the sublime); consistently, there are people who have not found the simple fact that if you make no provision for the “flesh.” They don’t know the power of avoiding a situation…the power of admitting you are not strong enough to resist. For example, I’m not strong enough to resist chips in the home. Yes, we have them, but Jody does not keep a constant supply on hand. If they were here all the time, I’d eat them all the time. Sorry, it’s just a fact (you know…the salt, the crunch, the dipping!!!).
Well, join the reality of the dangers of the internet. The fact is that you just need to stay away from the stuff that isn’t good for you. Get over the silliness of thinking you should be stronger. You are not.
Now, doesn’t that turn out to be twice as true for the kids? Yes, they need discernment and wisdom, but that will grow over time. Our simple solution was to trust the least-tempted-by-the-internet soul in our home; Jody! In researching it though, we concluded that an internet filter was the way to go. We decided on SafeEyes and have found nothing but good things (speed is unaffected and the customer support has been exceptional). Frankly, I don’t care which you use…but I do say, “Use something.” Basically, with 5 men in the household, our answer became easy. Jody is the only one who knows the “password.” Yes, if I get a site blocked that I need, then I ask her to log me in to use it. What an easy way for me to show some humility (and honesty) about the dangers. What an easy way for me to not have to think about looking at something tantalizing. Life is too short and the consequences are too lasting.
If you have gotten into trouble or need help, please check out my friend Jonathan Daugherty’s website @ www.bebroken.com
In the meantime, don’t run; use the internet for good. Redeem it, but respect it.
Get Safe Eyes Parental Control Software – One price for three computers!
What is your goal for schooling? For parenting? For your children?
Whether public, private, or home— everyone has some goal or goals in mind. Maybe you call them ‘hopes’, but it’s still the same idea. Frankly, getting clarity on your goal helps dramatically in your decision-making. Here are the options:
1. You want to help your child (children) be competitive and prepared for the world he/she/they will enter.
2. You want to help your child excel in the world he/she/they will enter.
Frankly, I think both of these are noble. The reason you might pick #1 over #2 is that you are on the cutting edge of generations of folks who were not ‘academic’. In my own family, my Dad and his brother were the first college graduates ever (I think…at least in the America part of the story). They were cutting a path for us in a new territory. Another reason you might choose #1 is that your child may have special challenges that simply make being at the ‘top of the class / business / organization’ very unlikely, so you are realistic.
And yet, we need a new generation of morally straight leaders who are in pursuit of excellence. The solution comes with one’s talents. No matter who or what…almost no one doesn’t do at least one thing better than 10,000 others. Find that thing as you watch and love your children. Their talent is their ticket (and it is, in part, the reason God put them on the planet).
So, academically, at least become sufficiently educated in Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic (yes, that is what it takes)so they will know how to learn. But, personally, aspire to stretch them toward their strengths.
My friend Bob Tebow has a son (Timmy…Denver Broncos), who has embodied this in his pursuit of excellence. He is at practice earlier and stays later than anyone else. He isn’t trying to prove something, he is trying to accomplish something.
Get after it with your own children! Stretch and challenge those guys and girls…they will love you for it (maybe a long time from now). Here’s the easiest goal of all to have:
“I want my children to out-do me in every way”
Now, that is a goal of vision and humility! Of course, there is a final word of caution— it is their life to live, not your’s to be lived through them!
So…what are your thoughts about goals for your children?
P.S. Nice video explaining what I mean about Tim Tebow: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/index.html?test=faces#/v/969875443001/tim-tebow-on-hannity/?playlist_id=86924