I’m doing a review for IEW right now, and along with the primary review items, I received several wonderful bonus items that I’ve also been listening to and using. One of the most valuable resources that I’ve used so far has been an audio lecture that Andrew Pudewa gives entitled Principles of Motivation and Skills Development.
In this lecture, he discusses relevancy, which really reminded me of how important it is that our students see their work as relevant and important. I learned and was reminded of a ton listening to that part, but it was the part on motivation that really got to me.
He said that children will hate and they will prefer punishment to even attempting to do something that they feel that they can’t do. That really struck me. I have a child who is a slow reader and not great with math either. She can summarize a story and create art in a way that she feels very good about for an 8 year old. She can memorize scripture and she has so many talents, but in my head, because of her talents, I often push her too much in the areas that she’s weak in because I think that if she “really tries it,” she’ll like it.
The more I push, the more she resists even trying to memorize math facts or read or spell. I’m sure you can imagine why.
She’s often willing to cry or even be punished rather than even try to spell or do math problems on her own. So, why am I creating an environment where I’m forcing her to frustration to do the things that she hates?
It’s because I’ve lapsed once again into a fear-based homeschooling where I’m homeschooling in fear, comparing ourselves to both children in school and to other homeschoolers. This cannot be! The beast of fear that I had once thought I had conquered has crept back into our lives. No wonder I’ve dealt so much with the feelings of burnout and discouragement over the past year.
So, instead, if you (or I) realize that we’re discouraging our children, even unintentionally, what are we to do?
I think we have to learn to play to our children’s interests and abilities. We, as homeschoolers, are in a unique position to allow our children’s interests and God-given abilities to guide the course of their schooling. We should take full advantage of that and allow ourselves to use our students abilities in planning the next thing to do.
We must stop comparing our homeschool and our children’s interests and abilities to both other homeschoolers and families with children in school. Comparison is what creates the discontent and fear that many of us suffer from as we homeschool
We should also gently scaffold our students. As they see relevancy and are gently led from concept to concept, they will gradually pick up the knowledge that is most important for them from each subject.
The irony here is that I’ve battled through this fear on a different level with my oldest child and made peace with his education being his own. I didn’t realize this was a battle I was going to have to fight over and over again in different ways. So here goes day one of being more gentle and encouraging and less pushy.