when you "teach"--expectations - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 04-08-2011, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think I'm a 'natural' teacher, so most of our kids' learning occurs through other modes, other than direct (or indirect) teaching.

 

But from time to time DD (8.75) wants to know something, that requires some kind of teaching, and then I end up pretty frustrated. So maybe in addition to not being able to teach per se, my expectations are too high?

 

Example. DD has been expressing her wish to study geography. We happened to be at a bookstore where I found a neat book, something like A Kid's Introduction to the World, and I showed it to her. We read the first chapter together in the store, and she LOVED it. Got jumpy with excitement.

 

We start reading it together at home. My first issue--she has a defeatest attitude right away. Claims she doesn't understand things, even before I finish reading a sentence. This perfectionist's attitude frustrates me, as I'm not sure how to deal with it. I never expect to understand things on the first try, and it doesn't really bother me.

 

When I try to explain, she'd continue claiming she didn't understand things. I think she shuts down.

 

I also think she expects to have a deep understanding right away, while at the very beginning when a subject is introduced, some things are to be just accepted, such as definitions. For example, we read about the continental shift. There were illustrations and explanations. She herself played with a hard boiled egg to demonstrate to me how the plates could possibly move. It looked, to me, that she clearly 'got' it. Then she said she didn't understand what the continental shift was. I think her issue is that she wasn't 100% satisfied with the name of the phenomenon, and why this particular name was given.

 

In a way she seems to be in need a much deeper delve into the subjects, but on the other hand, she refuses to go deeper as well, and won't apply herself to trying to understand sometimes more difficult concepts that would give her better answers.

 

Then the second issue--I can't read even a sentence without her interrupting with something that is mostly irrelevant to what we are reading--an association with a word or an image, a seemingly random thought. After every. single. sentence.

 

I used to tell her that she needed to focus if she wanted me to help her out. But I do find this sort or harsh.

 

Last night I tried to just go with the flow. I stopped a listened, and then tried to gently bring her back to what we were reading. Then we'd read another sentence. But I find it trying.

 

I guess my own issue is that I like to finish what I start, and I don't like when *my* flow is interrupted every 30 seconds.

 

Tonight she wants to learn more about geography again. Which would include me sort of "teaching" her. Do I need to  adjust my expectations? My strategies? Both?

 

 

 

 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#2 of 12 Old 04-08-2011, 08:26 PM
 
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My first thought was that perhaps you should do some investigation into really trying to discover her learning style. The seemingly irrelevant (to you) tangents that she goes off on while you're trying to read to her....those could somehow be helping her learn, in her own style.

 

OR....it's possible that she doesn't want you to teach it to her? For example, my son (who is 8, and a perfectionist) tends to stare out the window and go off on tangents if I'm doing "lessons" (we're not 100% unschoolers) IF we are doing a lesson that *I* am sort of forcing on him or which he doesn't understand or want to do. So my strategy in those situations would be to realize that I need to not be so rigid and having him do lessons on some kind of schedule (I used to get panicky about unschooling and try to start regular worksheets and lessons). I need to find a way that works for HIM, so he will be receptive to the material. Sometimes just putting up a poster in the bathroom next to where he sits on the toilet (often drawing for long periods....it's sort of his "studio"). He can see it and look at it and puzzle over it at his own pace. 

 

So as rambly as this answer might be, the bottom line is to recognize the possibility that the two of you might learn differently. Find out how she likes to learn (either by watching her OR asking her directly, or both). It's possible that just buying that book for her would have been enough and you don't need to "teach it" to her. Maybe she wants to read it herself and then come to you only when there's a word or concept that she needs help with. Maybe when you read to her she feels stupid (remember, if she is perfectionist, she may feel pressure to understand everything, and having you read it to her, she may put pressure on herself to understand it quickly--pressure which would not be there if she studied it at her own pace). My son used to love doing all kinds of reading in bed late at night. He'd sit there with his little miner's light on his head, drawing charts of sea life or molecules or whatever the heck interested him at the time.  :-)

 

Hope that helps.

 

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#3 of 12 Old 04-09-2011, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Her learning style is a mystery to me. The only thing that is very clear--she won't learn anything, unless it is her idea. About once a year I have my unschooling freak out, and try to suggest, activities for her, and it is an utter failure. (I'll try not to do this next year shy.gif)

 

When I suggest activities to her, her behaviour is pretty similar to what I described, but much more pronounced. I back off fairly quickly, there's no way to misread her signs, and there's no way to continue, when she stalls.

 

With the latest example (geography) she was asking for everything! She wanted me to read it to her! She followed me around asking to sit down with her and read the book to her!

 

I guess I'm struggling with dealing with her perfectionist traits.

 

Thank you for replying.

 


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#4 of 12 Old 04-09-2011, 08:01 PM
 
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I guess my comfort in this (and mind you, DS is only 2) is that, if my child has a hard time grasping concepts in the comfort of his own home, and from loving family members, on subjects he enjoys, what are the chances he would have done better in school? I'm thinking slim to none. Perhaps they could force info down her throat. Command her to "not worry about not understanding everything and get on with it." But I think this will pass. She will start to realize that the more she reads teh more she understands. It's a fact of life that stuff is confusing at first. Take time and focus and it'll start to make sense. Definitely look for other ways for her to learn, other than books. As I'm sure you are. You're doing great. :)


Mom to angel baby, grew wings at 5 weeks in May '07, William, born Dec '08, and another angel who grew wings at 8w4d (lost at 11w) in Oct '10. Rachel born Feb 2012, Another angel Lost Sept '13. New bean due Nov '14!
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#5 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 05:27 AM
 
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Maybe your daughter wants to understand the Whole Picture before she can understand all the parts? Like she needs to really 'get' the concept of the forest before she can study the trees individually?

 

In a totally BTDT, not judgmental way, here's some suggestions:

 

~ Instead of studying/learning about geography from the book -- learn it from the world around you. Keep the book, goodness, yes, as a reference. A cool reference. I love geography books. I leave those and 'human body' books strewn about more than any other because children LOVE to study those on their own. (And it is a special joy to have your 4yo daughter go up to strangers and explain where her 'libber' is aka - liver. ;)

 

So how can you do this? Get a big poster map of the world or your country, your state, your county, your city -- get or make one for your neighborhood.

 

One of the many things I really liked about the waldorf perspective was this 'starting where you are and moving outward' approach to geography.

 

Geography is not just about cartography. It is also about things like:

- what brought settlers to your area & when AND where did they come from.

- what is the natural geography of your area and how did it encourage/discourage/impact immigration (i.e. rivers, mtns, etc.)

- what skills/resources did early settlers need to thrive in your area (i.e. harsh winters? lack of trees for fires? drought conditions which might have challenged agriculture?)

- what is the soil like in our backyard? is it rich and nutrient-dense? if so, what was grown here; if not, what could settlers HAVE done with this?

- make a map of your home, show the 'traffic patterns'

- make a map of your yard, neighborhood, etc.

- investigate who might have lived in your area before it was settled by the people who are there now

- investigate what animals would have been indigenous to the same area before people moved in

- on the big map-o-the-world, use push pins or post-it notes or some other way to mark different things you learn in the above items; i.e. mark where in the world settlers to your area came from -- mark where they moved on from if they moved again. Here's my favorite: look at labels on things; clothes, toys, foods, etc. and mark where in the world these things were made/shipped from. Run to the map whenever watching a show or reading a story where a place is mentioned. Put a mark there. All of this will start wonderful, awesome, and YES completely tangential conversations like:

so Gramma Sophie is from there and that's right next to where these people who settled here were from -- is that a coincidence; and,

it seems like all my toys are coming from China; and,

where did these animals go who once lived here and is it a coincidence that many of them are now on the endangered species list?

 

Ok, I know, this is only one example -- geography.

But it is real and responsive and has the potential to enhance a child's natural desire to learn about the world around them without 'taking over.'

 

HTH,

 

 

 

 


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#6 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 07:42 AM
 
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midnightwriter, do you know what it was, exactly, that your daughter found exciting about the book? Maybe it wasn't the actual information from the text of the book that she was interested in...maybe she was intrigued by the way the shapes and colours of the map fit together, or maybe she had just never thought of the world as one big One before, or perhaps it was the revelation of the size of our planet, or the fact that we are one planet among many, or....anything, really! If you haven't already done this, I'd simply ask her: what do you find interesting about this book? And go from there.

 

bcblondie, this is probably neither the time nor the place, but I just had to say something. I'm sure there is a middle ground between loving family members teaching their kids and teachers "forcing info down their throat." I'm sure, as a former teacher, I took this comment too personally, but there are a lot of committed educators out there who spend a great deal of time, money (often their own) and other resources figuring out the best way to get through to a student. It's true that, as Eric Clapton said, "nobody loves you like a mother does," but that alone doesn't guarantee patience or desire or even the aptitude to be an effective educator. And even if all those are in place, sometimes a kid just doesn't want to hear it from a parent. I don't know why that is, but I can certainly recall ignoring (good) advice from my parents but taking the exact same advice from someone else's mom! And praising her sage wisdom, too!

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#7 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Mary!

 

As I was reading your post, I realised we've done a lot of the activities you suggest over the last years. orngbiggrin.gif Geography has been an integral part of our life for a while, especially since we travelled a bit, and we have maps hanging on the walls, and so on and so on. Honestly, I'm not sure this is her learning style, or maybe I'm wrong. In any case, this feels natural to me, learning from the world around us, so this is an integral part of our life.

 

This time she wanted a geography book, and wanted to read it together. Maybe exactly that's why she finally wanted a book? I don't know. Maybe it was her first attempt at something more formal. She wanted to read it in order, to make a 'study course' out of it--not her words, but this was clear from her explanation.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mary3mama View Post

Maybe your daughter wants to understand the Whole Picture before she can understand all the parts? Like she needs to really 'get' the concept of the forest before she can study the trees individually?

 

In a totally BTDT, not judgmental way, here's some suggestions:

 

~ Instead of studying/learning about geography from the book -- learn it from the world around you. Keep the book, goodness, yes, as a reference. A cool reference. I love geography books. I leave those and 'human body' books strewn about more than any other because children LOVE to study those on their own. (And it is a special joy to have your 4yo daughter go up to strangers and explain where her 'libber' is aka - liver. ;)

 

So how can you do this? Get a big poster map of the world or your country, your state, your county, your city -- get or make one for your neighborhood.

 

One of the many things I really liked about the waldorf perspective was this 'starting where you are and moving outward' approach to geography.

 

Geography is not just about cartography. It is also about things like:

- what brought settlers to your area & when AND where did they come from.

- what is the natural geography of your area and how did it encourage/discourage/impact immigration (i.e. rivers, mtns, etc.)

- what skills/resources did early settlers need to thrive in your area (i.e. harsh winters? lack of trees for fires? drought conditions which might have challenged agriculture?)

- what is the soil like in our backyard? is it rich and nutrient-dense? if so, what was grown here; if not, what could settlers HAVE done with this?

- make a map of your home, show the 'traffic patterns'

- make a map of your yard, neighborhood, etc.

- investigate who might have lived in your area before it was settled by the people who are there now

- investigate what animals would have been indigenous to the same area before people moved in

- on the big map-o-the-world, use push pins or post-it notes or some other way to mark different things you learn in the above items; i.e. mark where in the world settlers to your area came from -- mark where they moved on from if they moved again. Here's my favorite: look at labels on things; clothes, toys, foods, etc. and mark where in the world these things were made/shipped from. Run to the map whenever watching a show or reading a story where a place is mentioned. Put a mark there. All of this will start wonderful, awesome, and YES completely tangential conversations like:

so Gramma Sophie is from there and that's right next to where these people who settled here were from -- is that a coincidence; and,

it seems like all my toys are coming from China; and,

where did these animals go who once lived here and is it a coincidence that many of them are now on the endangered species list?

 

Ok, I know, this is only one example -- geography.

But it is real and responsive and has the potential to enhance a child's natural desire to learn about the world around them without 'taking over.'

 

HTH,

 

 

 

 



 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#8 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 02:11 PM
 
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Midnightwriter-- have you talked to your daughter about what she's looking for when she asks you to read the book? If you could sit down and talk about what each of your expectations is, you might be able to figure out a plan to lessen frustration on both sides.

I have a perfectionist too, and it is hard when they're so busy freaking out about what they don't know that you can't help them understand.
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#9 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 02:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post

 

bcblondie, this is probably neither the time nor the place, but I just had to say something. I'm sure there is a middle ground between loving family members teaching their kids and teachers "forcing info down their throat." I'm sure, as a former teacher, I took this comment too personally, but there are a lot of committed educators out there who spend a great deal of time, money (often their own) and other resources figuring out the best way to get through to a student. It's true that, as Eric Clapton said, "nobody loves you like a mother does," but that alone doesn't guarantee patience or desire or even the aptitude to be an effective educator. And even if all those are in place, sometimes a kid just doesn't want to hear it from a parent. I don't know why that is, but I can certainly recall ignoring (good) advice from my parents but taking the exact same advice from someone else's mom! And praising her sage wisdom, too!



Yes I know. I'm sorry if I offended any teachers. This day and age they do try their darnednest. (Unlike the book I'm reading by john holt which seems to say teachers just say "becuase it just is" rather than explaining.) Now a days they do their best and they really care about teh kids. But as much as they try, they're still pretty tied to the "workbook" type of learning. A geared to academics as a priority and arts at the bottom of the totem.

 


Mom to angel baby, grew wings at 5 weeks in May '07, William, born Dec '08, and another angel who grew wings at 8w4d (lost at 11w) in Oct '10. Rachel born Feb 2012, Another angel Lost Sept '13. New bean due Nov '14!
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#10 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just asked her, and she said that the book made her believe it would be easy and fun. Not sure she still believes it. The introduction that we read in the store said 'we won't bore you' etc etc. So maybe her expectations were too high? The book is definitely FUN compared to a textbook. But she's never seen a textbook!

 

That's exactly--at the beginning she's always too busy freaking out. Then she eases into thing...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post

Midnightwriter-- have you talked to your daughter about what she's looking for when she asks you to read the book? If you could sit down and talk about what each of your expectations is, you might be able to figure out a plan to lessen frustration on both sides.

I have a perfectionist too, and it is hard when they're so busy freaking out about what they don't know that you can't help them understand.


 


My kids are 8, 5 and 2!
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#11 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post

 

bcblondie, this is probably neither the time nor the place, but I just had to say something. I'm sure there is a middle ground between loving family members teaching their kids and teachers "forcing info down their throat." I'm sure, as a former teacher, I took this comment too personally, but there are a lot of committed educators out there who spend a great deal of time, money (often their own) and other resources figuring out the best way to get through to a student. It's true that, as Eric Clapton said, "nobody loves you like a mother does," but that alone doesn't guarantee patience or desire or even the aptitude to be an effective educator. And even if all those are in place, sometimes a kid just doesn't want to hear it from a parent. I don't know why that is, but I can certainly recall ignoring (good) advice from my parents but taking the exact same advice from someone else's mom! And praising her sage wisdom, too!


With my daughter's approach to learning, almost everything in school would have been 'forced down her throat'--even if a teacher didn't perceive it this way. She is not a kid who is happy to follow a program suggested to her. She tends to find her own way. This doesn't mean that there aren't committed educators in the school system, but that the school system as a whole is not  a good fit for us.
 

 


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#12 of 12 Old 04-10-2011, 03:54 PM
 
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Yeah I believe it. That's why I believe you are doing the right thing. Keep trying ot make it as un-teachy as possible. She'll learn the things she needs to. :)


Mom to angel baby, grew wings at 5 weeks in May '07, William, born Dec '08, and another angel who grew wings at 8w4d (lost at 11w) in Oct '10. Rachel born Feb 2012, Another angel Lost Sept '13. New bean due Nov '14!
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