Monday, 18 May 2015

My kid won't focus...

Patience is the most important tool in the home ed. tool kit. When our kids aren't interested, learning as fast as we thought they should, concentrate for as long as they should; our response needs to be patience. 

We need to stop and think, how can I change my approach to engage with my child, grab their interest. 

Perhaps we need to notice their interests and work with those, drop our own agendas and search our hearts to find what makes their hearts beat. 

It could be that the season in their lives is changing and we haven't caught up yet, they may be ready for a more mature approach to learning. 

What I am trying to say is the issue isn't with your kid...I can hear in my head people reading this and saying "kids need to just knuckle down and work, it's not my issue, some kids are just lazy"

But I believe when the curiosity to know is there, the learning happens. Curiosity can be sparked, encouraged like a fire that's fed wood. 

Many different things can fuel the fire of curiosity. Simply changing subjects, so if your kids passion for dinosaurs has waned, move on,  even if the beautifully planned lap books are incomplete. 

Also sometimes we need the patience to admit defeat, that our awesome plan to complete a set curriculum we have purchased at great cost to our pockets, isn't lighting that fire. We might need to swallow our pride and change our approach. I have had to do this so many times in 17 years of home educating, that now I am much slower and more careful about jumping in to a paid set style of learning. I have discovered that often, when I thought I needed others help in teaching my kids, when actually what my kids needed was my passion, time and focus on them. The lastest program of work, wasn't going to light their fires.

For example, when teaching my youngest to read, he didn't need a program of phonics drummed in to him daily, what he needed was a mother that knew the phonics sounds and was prepared to daily sit and enjoy reading simple fun books with him, repeating the sound and slowly building that confidence in reading. This takes huge amounts of time and patience. Sorry it's not a button you can press and your kids will learn because you have asked them to at a time that suits you, in a subject you think is suitable for them. I found story books that my son loved, ones with a cute dog in it, and I spent time enjoying them with him, this is how he learn't.

Anyone who knows me knows my love of dogs, well recently I have been learning how to engage and teach my Border Collies more effectively, one of the most helpful things I have learnt, and I have observed to be true, is when I am passionate and focused in what I am trying to teach them, they will be focused and passionate. If I get side tracked or lose interest, so do they. Border Collies being super intelligent not only learn what you are teaching them, they learn whether what you are teaching them is important or not by really how much effort you give it. I think to a degree children are just the same, if we are enjoying a topic of learning, discussing it passionately with them, enjoying it, throwing ourselves into, they too will learn to love it. As long as we stop before we start faking  interest. 

But again patience is the key here, because you need to be patient with yourself too, sometimes you just won't be able to give your full attention to learning, the housework overwhelms or the baby has been crying all night, but that's ok, just recognise that its unfair to then yell at your kid for not focusing when you are completely distracted. On these occasions admit defeat, give up! Make hot chocolate, break out the cookies and all sit and watch TV (you might be able to throw in an engaging documentary, and let someone else do the inspiring that day). 

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