All my friends with children going back to school are feeling all sorts of emotions. But at the bottom of all the feels is the deep desire that their child be happy and able to learn. Here's a couple of things you can forget and one thing to remember.
"Wait, what? You mean summer is over already? It just started!" That is what I hear so many of my friends with school age children saying. This has been a weird couple of years and now a weird summer schedule for a lot of the kids in my area. Summer was really short and the next school year seems really long. Covid 19 has certainly added a new dimension to all things related to educating your children.
Stand strong Mamas. You were given your children at this time for God's divine purpose and your ultimate good. The timing of this pandemic is known by God and you were chosen to be the generation of parents to cover this time. Covid is happening on your watch, and you can rise up. You are stronger than all the Covid protocols and you can get through this with grace and a beautiful spirit. Focus on the most important thing: your child.
Help your child learn happily this year rather than focus on the side items of masks and distancing. You can do this, and you can do this with confidence. If you know a couple of simple strategies for helping your child learn you can come to the end of the pandemic years and know that you and your child thrived. This can absolutely be your reality.
This week I'm going to share two myths concerning your child and the learning process and then tell you one solid truth. Let these sink into your heart, because that is where learning begins. Just like you, your child is more than a brain and a body. They require more than soccer and algebra. Your child's ability to learn is driven by many factors, but these all begin in their heart. It is often said among early childhood educators that until you reach a child's heart you can not reach their mind. I'm pretty sure this extends across our lifetimes.
Myth Number One: My child's teacher will teach them. My job is to send my child to school fed and clean and properly supplied. The teacher does the rest. I sincerely hope that you understand the flaws in this thought process and see how utterly baseless this is. You are your child's first and most influential teacher. There may be many excellent educators in your child's life who propel their learning exponentially but none of these wonderful teachers will influence your child the way you do. Not one. You are the one who will influence how much energy and enthusiasm your child puts into their own learning. You are the one who encourages consistency in their work ethic, reliability in their attendance, and excitement about what each new day will bring. You teach far more than you know just with your attitude toward learning.
Myth Number Two: I don't need to read to my children. I don't have time, anyway
This is so patently untrue that I almost made it the number one myth. But I didn't. Still, do not underestimate the power of reading aloud to your children from the cradle (LITERALLY) through the teen years. This is the number one thing that you should prioritize each and every day in order to help your child to become the excellent and natural reader. Easily accessible education requires this ability. I'm not talking about you teaching reading using any authorized method, but teaching your child to read by demonstrating the act of reading. This is a wonderful wind down activity that must be done by you for full effectiveness. Watching videos of a book being read is not even close to the same experience. You must understand: reading aloud is not about the story it is about the act of reading. It is about spending some time physically close to your child allowing them to hear and feel the rhythm of the words as you read from the page. Read to your children. That is all.
One Solid Truth: I can teach my child how to learn by letting them watch me learn. Learning new things is something that you can get better at with practice. There are skills that can help learning new things become easier and you probably are a better and more skilled learner than your child. Help them learn how to learn by letting them watch you as you learn.
Here is an example: You buy a piece of furniture from a certain Swedish furniture store. It comes with instructions for assembly. Get your child involved in this project. Tell them candidly that you don't know how to do this so you are going to need to learn. Look carefully at the instructions and explain them aloud to your child. Ask for their help and opinion. Do the work, correct mistakes calmly and without acting out on your frustration. If your child gets weary of the process, invite them to come back to help but do not insist. Their capacity for this kind of activity will increase over time. The important thing is to take and create every possible opportunity for this sort of learning interaction.
Here is another example: Your child can probably do something that you haven't learned how to do. It might be as simple as putting together a puzzle or some video game hack. Put yourself in the learner's seat and ask your child to teach you. As they do so, ask relevant questions, pay attention to what they say, ask them if you are doing it right, master the task. Then (this is the good part) thank them for teaching you. Tell them that you like to learn new things and that they helped you. Set. An. Example. There is no substitute for this.
Parents: please don't underestimate how vital you are to your child's educational process. Get in the game and be an active participant in encouraging you child to do well. Don't do it for them, that is counter productive, Encourage them to take joy in learning.