“The learning stops when the crying starts,” my friend explained. It sometimes feels like crying and tears are a natural byproduct of responsible parenting. While at times they truly are unavoidable, here are some strategies to help parents and students before they go past the point of no return.
During the grammar stage, my goal has always been getting my children completely addicted to learning. I want them to view learning as another natural and essential aspect of life, like eating and breathing. How is this even possible? I have children who were born for school, begging to do more each day, and I have children who repeatedly “lose” their workbooks, and spend more time avoiding schoolwork than completing it. The following guidelines are for children with both mindsets. While they won’t turn the latter into the former, they will help preserve family relationships and the sanity of all.
* Check Yourself
Are you calm and relaxed? Have you had your tea, done some reading, taken a walk outside or whatever you know puts you in the best mood and frame of mind for schooling? If you feel pressured, stressed, in a hurry to get school finished, consider delaying lessons until your errands are run and you have the leisure to work with your children in a relaxed and comfortable fashion.
* Check Your Student
It is ideal to start your lessons with a well-rested, well-fed, and well-exercised student. I have one child who cannot learn without an impressive amount of protein. If she hasn’t had that, there is no point in even trying to teach her. A melt down is guaranteed. Another of my children must have sufficient exercise to think. When she was in the grammar stage, we had homeschool P.E one morning a week, bike riding two mornings a week, and she swam two miles on the other two school days. By the time she had exercised and I had cooked a big breakfast for her, we often did not start school until after 11am. Despite this, she learned more in the afternoons than she would have in the mornings and afternoons combined had her physical needs not been met first. Some children allow for more flexibility; this is why it is so important to take your child’s emotional temperature before starting the day’s lessons.
* Start on a Positive Note
I know there’s a temptation to get the most unpleasant subjects out of the way first, but I find that attitudes are improved when you can start lesson time with an activity that the child truly enjoys.
*Progress, Not Perfection
Sometimes you really have to work against a child’s naturally perfectionistic personality, but learning is more effective and more enjoyable when mistakes are considered a natural predecessor to achievements. Cultivate an environment of encouragement and experimentation rather than obsessing over grades and test scores.
* Invest in Quality Materials
Whenever possible, invest in high quality tools and supplies, so that your children can easily see that you value the activity and the work involved. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to use supplies that just don’t work.
* Foster Positive Associations with Books
Foster a feeling of closeness while sharing new ideas and exposing children to literature. These positive associations can stay with the child her entire life.
* Limit Screen Time
Consider only allowing screen time on the weekends, or even after dinner, because some children have difficulty taking their time and doing their best work when they know that they can have electronics as soon as they rush through their assignments. Instead, allow large blocks of time for creative pursuits, such as experimental fashion design.
* Lifelong Learners
I can not claim that following these suggestions will turn every reluctant student into a voluntary scholar; however, reducing your family’s stress level is always beneficial. When you share your own love for learning, your child just may surprise you by seeking truth and knowledge for the mere joy of it.
Genevieve–is a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .