Children are born with the innate nature to self-educate. It’s only when he is conditioned otherwise that makes it difficult or seemingly impossible. It’s absolutely imperative that you do not “teach” your children. By standing in front of your children, teaching and telling them how to work their math; you are depriving them of the opportunity to learn problem solving. Instead of helping them learn as you intend, they actually become dependent and immobilized, only able to work as told.
Self-educating mathematics supports your children with the opportunity to problem solve and think logically. These skills are not only necessary throughout their years of learning but also in advanced math, science and beyond the “school” years.
Children who self-educate are able to face difficult problems and build endurance and self-reliance. Skills you want him to take out into the world.
When you are first guiding your child in self-education you will have to provide more guidance. What you want to be sure of though, the guidance is supportive and leading to the answers instead of teaching, telling and creating dependence. Even when children are already in self-education they can run into a wall not knowing how to work a problem, give up and come seek your help.
“Purify the air for learning by eliminating toxic practices: competition, comparison, stress and prizes and marks. Encourage cooperation and a love for learning.” -Donna Vail
When your child comes to you and says, “Mom, I need some help.”
Here’s the ‘help without helping’ you can give:
- Ask your child, “What have you done to figure out the problem?” At this point look for them to say they “I have re-read the problem, read it aloud to myself, went back to the lesson where the concept was taught, I re-read it and read it aloud again.” If they did not complete these steps, then do not help them until they have gone through the process. If they have, then go to their desk and…
- Ask them to read the problem aloud to you. Many times as they are reading out loud, they will have an “ah-ha” moment and say, “Thanks, I know what to do now!” and eagerly go right back to problem solving. If they are still stumped…
- Ask them to read the lesson aloud to you where the concept is taught. Have them verbally work through the practice problems of that lesson and usually when they return to the problem that seemed to be so impossible before, they simply see the answer.
When the answer is not getting through to the child at all, suggest they get up, get a drink of water, take some deep breaths and then go through the process. If it’s a full blown math crisis then it is simply a sign to do character work. This is where much encouragement is needed. The child must receive your reassurance that they are smart enough and you wouldn’t ask them to do anything you thought they were not capable of. The child really needs to hear, “I know you can do it.” Your confidence in them fosters their self-confidence.
You must know in your heart that your child can do this work. You have to fully believe in your child. Believe it first and then you will see it. If you have any reservations, even if you don’t verbalize these reservations, they will know. They feel your energy whether positive or negative. You have to totally and completely commit in order for them to be completely committed. They can do it. Every child from all walks of life has the genius within them. We must believe it, allow it and we will see it emerge to greatness.
Will this be your every day experience? No. As you are guiding them in their self-education practices, they have to learn the process –just like you are now. However, sooner than you think, they will understand the process and be empowered all through the years. By doing this now you will be saving yourself countless hours of lesson planning, teaching and struggling with your children. Imagine a day when they get up and get to work on their studies right away, getting it done and sometimes with no questions. There are many college students who are not capable of this and that’s one of the reasons why 50% of all enrollees drop out within the first year. I’ve seen children at a young age capable of this and the teenage years are much more flowing using these processes. When you let go of struggle, so can your children.
Parents Inspired to Action:
- Work on your own mindset around trusting that your child can do the work necessary to learn. It’s innate; to believe and act otherwise interrupts the flow of nature. You must believe it, allow it and then you will see it emerge.
- Keep the ‘help without helping’ steps close to you so that you can go through the process when your child is asking for help. Allow time for your child to release his dependency on you for all the answers. He will have to strengthen his own confidence muscle now too.
- Set yourself up for success by providing an inspiring learning environment that is conducive to study and concentration. Always provide a period of time each day with a quiet and comfortable study area.
Children Inspired to Action:
- If you have been “teaching” rather than mentoring, your children are used to getting all their questions answered and likely being told what to do next and completely relying on you to show the full lesson. When transitioning to the self-education model, they will need a period of decompression. This allows the child to discover his own impulses, to seek out knowledge and understanding. It’s in there, we just have to allow it to come out and be used.
- Children are genius’s and are fully capable of educating themselves when encouraged and given a rich environment with whole and complete resources to learn.
- Support your child to consistently self-educate. Consistency is key, the key to success in all areas of life. Applying it to math will flow into his character. This will take discipline on your part as well as your child. Set him up for success.