The Coronavirus Pandemic continues... I know we’ve all come to appreciate our Educators so much during this time… handling 20 academic questions at a time with supreme patience, keeping each developmental stage in mind with mixed ages and preparing lessons. What comes of challenging times is always appreciation. John likes to tell me, if you didn’t have cold weather, you wouldn’t appreciate the summer. For a Hawaiian, I almost believe that.
Finally, stress is high. The idea that you might have to “keep up” school work, house work and the idea of no work can be overwhelming. Great pedagogical writers always talked of the human need to be useful, to be productive. And how fundamental it is that we give this to our children - through work cycles, chores, etc. Now we are seeing our challenges with non-productivity and how difficult that can be to navigate. So, if you are struggling and it’s taking all your strength just to stay calm in front of your children, simply read.
1. Kneel: Kneeling is so underrated when speaking to children. If you’d like them to do something, don’t shout it across a room. Walk over, kneel down and look into their eyes. Make your request direct and loving… and then go back to what you were doing. If you stay too long they’ll try to negotiate!
2. Instead of saying “I told you that already”: Use the phrase “Oh maybe I forgot to let you know that when you leave the dish on the counter instead of putting it in the sink, the food gets stuck to it". This accomplishes so many things… they save face if they forgot, you are the loving reminder and they get a reason for why they are being asked to do something.
3. Following the Child: If you’d like your child to write more, read more or do more math… find topics that are related to their interests. If a child feels any pressure to do something the way you’d like it done then the learning will be lost. It’s all in the way a parent presents the material. If I’d like John to work his math skills, I might ask him to figure out how many square feet are in his room; to write, I might suggest writing a letter to his favorite football player. Ask questions and learn about their passions or interests. The more I try to control the situation, the less they WANT to do it. They’ll still do it because children love to please their parents, but the joy (and therefore the true learning) will be lost.
In study after study after study, reading does more for children than almost anything else. I remember Ms. Christine years ago illuminating this example for me. A child came up to her after reading the sentence, “A pig went into a pen.” The child asked, how can pig go into a pen… it’s so small? Of course, the child meant the writing instrument. Christine pointed out the stark difference between those who are read to or read and those who have not had that opportunity.
Everything from comprehension to vocabulary to inference to grammar… from imagination to story development to just understanding one's place in the world… all of these things happen through reading. Take all your books and put them in a new place (outside); read a long book to them chapter by chapter; used book stores will still mail you books by the pound for cheap right now; or you can make your own books. Ms. Jen has a library shelf just for Learner-made books when we return. Model reading by reading yourself (not on devices if possible) - this is actually the number one determinate of whether or not we raise readers… our own level of reading.
UNDERSTANDING & DOING:
Children often do not understand what we are asking them to do. I see this time and time (and time) again with my own children and yours. They may have mastered the art of brushing their teeth, but ask them to hang their clothes and they avoid it. In my experience they avoid it because they have never actually hung a piece of clothing on a hanger. If someone asked us to open our car hood and work on the engine, would we dive in? Some of us would, but most of us would avoid it because we have no idea where to start or how it works. This is true for many things with children… from reading and writing to at-home responsibilities. Consider using Dr. Montessori’s 3-part lesson:
First, explain (in detail) what they need to do by showing them slowly, step-by-step. Take the hanger out, take one shoulder of the shirt and drape it over and then the second part. If you use few words, they’ll pay attention to your actions and not to your voice. Second, ask them - would you hold the hanger like this or like this? Kind of like multiple choice. Finally, ask them, how would hold the hanger? And wait for them to be comfortable with all components before you give them the responsibility. This 3-part lesson is used throughout academics at TSH to avoid shaming in learning and to make certain that the child is confident going forward.
Parents: What to Watch:
Check out INSIDE BILL GATES BRAIN on Netflix. Surprisingly this three-part documentary speaks to Bill’s set-backs in trying to eliminate polio, provide sanitary toilets to the 4 billion people who still don’t have them and reduce fossil fuels using nuclear. A great story on how even at the highest levels, failure is always on the horizon and what it takes to push through.
About Parent Tips & Enrichment: At The School House, the idea that a school can educate a child without the engagement of parents has long been disproven. Enrichment is intended to bridge the gap between what a child learns in school and their learning environment at home.