What if my children can't learn from me?

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PlaneI've just finished a very busy month of convention travel. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new and experienced homeschoolers all across the country ... saw some of the most adorable babies ... and answered a whole lot of questions about home education. (I also flew on some incredibly tiny planes ... but that's another story).

One of the issues that new homeschoolers are often concerned about is whether or not they will be able to teach their children. This in turn leads to a discussion about learning and teaching styles ... how do my children learn best, and what if I can't teach in the "style" that they learn best?

Cynthia Tobias, in her book "The Way They Learn", states The individual bents that cause each person to be unique, often bring an overwhelming challenge to parents. If you have children, you know this to be true! Not only are no two children alike, but more often than not, your children aren't like you in a lot of ways either.

For a general discussion on learning/teaching styles, I would recommend this article titled: "Why Are Learning Styles Important?" The half-hour webinar included in the article will provide some basic instruction on learning styles. The challenge comes when you realize that your style of learning/teaching is different from your student's ... and you wonder not only which curriculum will be the most effective for your child, but how in the world will you teach it?!

The first thing to keep in mind is that you *are* your child's best teacher. You have been teaching him/her since the day they were born, and you have a vested interest in seeing them learn. As wonderful as any other teacher may be for your child, they will never be as motivated or invested in your child's education as you are. Keep this fact in mind ... write it down and pin it on your refrigerator ... repeat it to yourself often ... because even on the most frustrating days, you are still your child's best teacher.

That being said, it can be a challenge if you have a kinesthetic learner on your hands, and you learn better by sitting still and reading for hours on end. You quickly find that school is not just about academics, but it is also about learning to work with and accept differences in one another. As the adult in the equation, you will have to find ways to get into your child's world. Read and research and learn how kinesthetic kids learn best. Be willing to lay on the floor under the dining room table when you read, or hop up and down the stairs while you recite addition facts together. At the same time, help your student to learn to sit still for short periods at a time. Discuss why this is important ... help him/her to understand that there are times in life when everyone needs to sit still and pay attention.

When you hit a speed bump in your homeschooling, stop and consider the "symptoms" of the problem (Is your daughter frustrated with doing math flash cards? Does your son not remember any of what you've just read?). Think through what you "see" happening, and then consider what might be the underlying cause, based on what you know about your child. If your son is that kinesthetic learner, perhaps he can't remember any of what you just read, because he was concentrating so hard on just sitting still. Try putting him in a rocking chair while you read. If he can *move* while he *listens*, you may find that his retention level jumps.

So yes ... your children can learn from you, regardless of the learning styles involved. There may indeed be challenges along the way (almost guaranteed!), but one of the greatest rewards of homeschooling is realizing how much you've learned and grown as a parent/teacher. There is nothing better than the day that your most challenging student finishes homeschooling, and you realize that you both survived and still love each other (ask me how I know!).

Still on the journey ...
~Judy Wnuk

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