Although kids are definitely programmed to learn they are also programmed for fun and adventure, words that don’t come up often enough when teaching maths or grammar to elementary age kids.
I often read comments from desperate parents whose children just refuse to do the work set out for them at home. The parent’s fear is that if they don’t do the work (that ticks all the boxes of the curriculum) they will fall behind, thus ensuring their parents will indeed fail, as their critics predicted they would.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on kids.
And don’t get me started on the pressure put on parents by friends, relatives and the general public, anyone who is an arm chair critic, with no more expertise in the subject of home education than the average two year old. If you are a nay sayer, remember to check yourself if you feel the desire to voice your opinion on anything, let alone how another person parents their child: does it come from a good place or from your own fears
But that’s another post.
If you are finding that your children don’t want to do the work you’ve set out for them, try to think about it from their point of view. If you were them, with no commitments, no fear (of the future, of failure, of consequences) would you want to sit and do pages of a math book or would you rather be outside building a cubby in your favourite tree? If a child is failing at school, should we look at the way they’ve been taught or is it the child’s fault? What works for one doesn’t automatically work for all, one of the major failings of the idea of children learning en masse in the first place.
If my girls are not relating to what I’m doing with them, I try to find different ways to teach that don’t necessarily look like ‘school’ to them. Everyone knows most kids love to cook and help out in the kitchen. Baking teaches kids loads about fractions, capacity, measurement, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, health, society, science, reading and I could go on. You baked nanna’s old recipe from her homeland and just knocked off a heap of outcomes in one afternoon. More fun than a text book? I think so.
This is just one example. Sounds too simple? Simple works. Don’t complicate it with unnecessary pressure on yourself, or your child. Go outside and play in the tree with them. Some of the best learning happens when you engage with your child and stop talking ‘at’ them. Most of all, ignore the critics. Other people’s reactions are always about them, rarely about you, don’t take it on. If you do, you will lose yourself to them and your child could suffer as a result.
I proved the ‘simple’ theory recently when I decided to stop trying to get my girls to write on demand because that’s what they are supposed to be doing according to the Australian curriculum. As soon as we took the pressure off they picked up their pencils and started to write. I haven’t been able to stop them since. The best part is they aren’t doing it, (and I’m not making them,) because of the curriculum, but despite it. All I did was ask Miss 8 to write without consideration to punctuation, spelling or neatness with a timer set for 5 minutes. 15 minutes later she was still resetting the timer. My 5 year old wanted to join in so she’s now writing long stories too. By the way, Miss 8 is very neat, and punctuation and spelling didn’t suffer. Interesting when you take the pressure off.
So if what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t get upset with the child, you’ll just add fuel to the fire. First, take a look at yourself. What pressure are you putting there that is contributing to the behaviour? What is your fear based on? If you were him/her, what would work better?
Most importantly, block your ears to those that want to undermine you. If they aren’t trying to help, you don’t need to listen.
Listen to your heart and stop putting pressure on yourself.