My mom is a public school teacher for 5th and 6th grade, specializing in Science. Her worst nightmare is one of her children to get a failing grade in Science. Up to 4th grade, I was enrolled on the same school where she teach. When I reached 5th grade, she decided to move us to a private school, and her worst nightmare happened.
Having used to public schooling, I rarely study, especially Science and History. Off course, I love Math. I was very unforgiving when I make mistake, so that I always make sure that I get a perfect score in Math. Aside from Math, I have personally categorized other subjects as easy. All I needed was to listen and I will get good grades enough to put me on top five of my class. Not for long.
I went to my new private school, thinking like a public school student. I did not realize that switching to private school is a complete new routine all together. Students should buy a text book and students are supposed to read the textbook every single night, study it and memorize it. Who knew? My thoughts about being one of the smartest in my class was shattered. To compound my new reality, my new classmates have been into a private school routine since they were in K4!
Then comes my first grading test in Science, I got 40/80.
“That’s a passing grade,” I thought.
Well, not to my mom. She was in complete distress. She decided to sit down with me one night and taught me to read my text book. Who knew there is a thing called “textbook?” She taught me to highlight the important concepts. We went through my test paper, and taught me how to find those in my textbook. In other words, she taught me the pattern on how to source my textbook to prepare for quizzes and tests. She did those session with me regularly until I was doing it on my own.
Did I mention that my mom isn’t the most gentle person I know? She is easily angered and losses patience with me when she notices I’m not listening. Then I wasn’t the most responsible child. In fact, I was the laziest, most distracted, and most unorganized child she has. You can probably see how our night study would look like. I can see that sometimes she would loose her patience to me.
Looking back, I probably have communicated to her that her teaching doesn’t matter to me. Guess what, even when I would remember her impatience, to these days, my most remembered Science concepts were those that I studied with my mom. I wasn’t the best communicator, but during those nights that she learned with me were one of my cherished moments. Not only that she helped me learned the concept but she helped me gained confidence and discipline to face the outside world of public school.
It was a complete turn around for me. I did not end up as a top five in my private school but I sure have improved my learning skills and capabilities. These were my tools that brought me through high school as a scholar in another private school, graduated with honors, in both my High School and University degrees.
Those same moments with my mom is what encouraged me to homeschool my kids because I have experienced first-hand the lasting effects of a parent teaching her own kids.
The fear of teaching your own kids is just a perception. You would think that they will not listen to you, but truth is they would like you to be their teacher. They just don’t like to give you too much credit.
Rejoice! Here are some ways that may help you overcome those fears.
Learn with Your Kids (even the hard concepts)
If your child have always been in day-care, or regular school, and has been independent completing their assignments and projects, their perception of learning is that “they learn with others.” This is the good time to reverse that perception and learn with them. It doesn’t have to be a formal learning, at this point. It can be as simple as assembling a puzzle, putting up a garden, learning a new board game, learning card tricks or anything that is of interest to your kids. It should be something new to both of you. Remember that on this activity, you are not teaching them, but you are learning with them. So enjoy like a real learner. Allow them and yourself to make mistakes.
While you are learning with them observe how they learn. Listen to them like they matter a whole lot. See what their preferences are when learning. Do they learn by looking and reading an instruction? Do they learn by actual doing? Do they learn by watching video? Do they learn by teaching the subject matter? This will give you an idea how your kids like to learn.
Apply what you have observed in your academic learning.
My favorite subject to learn with my kid is Math. While some of the concepts are new to me, some are refresher to me. So both my child and myself would sometimes learn what the lesson is about. Sometimes, we both shrug and have no clue how that answer came to be. Then, once we figure it out, it feels like we have uncovered free treasure. Don’t be scared to say you don’t know, then find out together. It will be the best learning experience.
If you have a lesson plan or teacher guide from a curriculum, they are not meant for you to read word for word and sound like a robot. It should serve as a guide. The best approach is to study the lesson yourself, and express it like a normal conversation.
Involved them in Decision-Making
Kids these days like to be involved. They don’t like to be isolated but their curiosity puts them into a spot where they would like to be involved. Have them weigh in on some decisions that you have to make.
I once met an elder who told me a story about her shopping with her kids for shoes. She would choose three pairs of shoes first among all the available selection, then present those three pairs for her child to choose from. The child is now limited to just three carefully pre-selected choices instead of hundreds! That’s neat, right? Your child get to decide on a pair to buy from the three pairs that you have already selected.
Apply the same concept when choosing curriculum, a field trip, or games, even as simple as school supplies. The key is to have short list of what is available in the market to make sure it fits your criteria of quality, then have them decide the last mile.
Develop the love of Learning in Your Home
Make your home a learning sanctuary, you almost feel like you are in a field trip everyday without leaving your house. Develop the habit of learning using materials around your house.
One important aspect of learning is creative time. We usually observe creative time everyday where kids are encouraged to create something or learn how to create something. We have non-fictional books, encyclopedia, learning posters and charts. We have all sorts of crafting materials, motors, batteries, recycled materials. They sometimes end up with crafted car being moved by pair of wheels.
Other learning activities like musical instruments, pets, indoor garden, block structures, safe power tools can be readily available. Allow yourself and kids to explore around the house and learn. I don’t mind cleaning the house often because I know that the more cluttered the house is, the more learning is happening.
There is a lot of learn. The only limitation you have is your where your kid’s imagination can take them. Once you have develop the habit of learning, your mindset and their mindset would shift to the love of learning. You will start to be conscious with the toys that you buy, making sure that they enhances learning.
We have converted part of our garage as a plant nursery. We have a heating pad and started planting seeds in the middle of winter! They label the seeds, visit them everyday and see how they are growing.
Shutdown the television and the internet during this time. Have them explore throughout your home with things they can touch, smell, taste, see and feel. Allow their curiosity to take over, and learning will take place on its own.
Oh, just make sure they don’t burn your house!
Encourage Group Activities
We once bought one huge table, and we call it a collaboration table. This is where we all sit down as a family and collaborate. We can be designing a summer journal putting in the “treasures” that we have collected outside. We can be dissecting a flower or a root system. We can be learning a new board game or playing an existing board game. We can be studying one book of the Bible. We can be solving a really hard math problem. We can simply be eating 5 huge order of french fries, and see which sauce taste better. A huge table really centers us towards one place where we can collaborate. While all of these are happening, don’t forget to observe. Notice that the dynamics is interesting.
Designate a place where you can work together.. So that when they get to that table, it signals collaboration. Learning and you teaching begins without formalities.
Once you have developed the habit of learning with your kids, and give them room to be part of the learning, then teaching them will become very natural for you and your kids. You will almost forget you are teaching.