When it comes to school work, to reading, writing, math, science, subjects which are all about practice and mastery and taking good care to correct mistakes before submitting them, then in my house, my daughter will always be required to do her best. She is a bright girl, and CAN produce work that is neat and tidy and without mistakes. She is capable of correcting mistakes she has made. That which she is capable of, I expect from her. She has to learn the importance of producing neat, tidy work, which is easy to read and without spelling mistakes.
I am seeing the results. It is not to everyone`s taste to work this way but I have watched her go from a middling student in public school, to absolutely fantastic being classically homeschooled. She needed me to tell her what was expected of her. She can truely have pride in her work now, not to mention fully enjoying novels now she can read fluently.
With matters of talent, with art, with music, I will not ask for what she cannot do. She is not a good artist. We still do the art lessons and I take pleasure in her pleasure in the subject. She does not enjoy music, and Ild never push her.
We all have different ways of working with our children, and we all expect different things from them, the only thing that matters is that we all care deeply about our children and their future, no matter how they get there. I was sick with her school telling me how they were teaching them to `think` and then getting a child home who could not spell correctly. What use is thinking if noone can read your ideas!
This post really resonated for me. Thank you.
I have to say I feel much more inspired by Cal Newport books and the study hacks site. His motto of do less and do it better resonates here. He contradicts the idea of the super rigorous high school schedule where the kids feel pressured to collect as many AP's as possible, perfect test scores, perfect grades, every extracurricular and community service project under the sun, in order to get into the 'right' college. He proposes learning to be interesting and interested instead as both a better life philosophy and a better way to get into a good fit college. He talks about enjoying life now rather than seeing school as a time to jump through hoops in order to enjoy the good life later. He discusses learning to focus deeply so that you can manage some rigorous academics while still pursuing your other interests and hobbies.
I think when I mull over the merits of a classical education, the ability to think deeply and focus on hard problems is what appeals to me. However, an overwhelming schedule and too much busy work seem a possible danger with that approach if one is not careful. So, we work on my daughter owning her own educational process and learning to develop her deep focus muscles. We want her to own that ability so she can effectively follow her passions - whatever they end up being. LOL
I think my daughter's ability to work hard has come from a desire to pursue her own interests. We discuss the level of work required to move up to a new level of proficiency. She makes the choice to commit to that and we support her efforts. We have many discussions on how we can help her with those goals. So for an example, my daughter plays piano. It came easily to her and for quite a while she would practice by running through her pieces once and playing around on the piano however she saw fit. This was sufficient for quite sometime. She came to level that would require her to carefully practice hands separately and break the piece into manageable chunks. She did not change her practice habits and her playing suffered. We discussed it with her and her teacher. She was reminded of strategies she had been told to use. She tried them inconsistently. We talked again about how it was fine if she enjoyed her level of playing now, but in order to move on to these advanced pieces, she was going to have to try the tools she'd been told to try. She agreed it would be helpful if I would remind her of the practice strategies she and her teacher had discussed. She began keeping a notebook with her at lessons to write down her teacher's suggestions. She agreed that it was helpful if I reminded her to check her notes. She made a huge leap in her playing shortly after that which reinforced the value of the additional work and the increased focus. We have had similar strategies with horseback riding, hard math problems, learning to write well, etc.
I think learning to work hard and persevere through periods of intense concentration are laudable goals. However, I don't think they are attainable unless the skills are developed through goals of value to the child. I think many kids need help and support to develop these skills even in areas of interest. I don't think I qualify 'Tiger mom's' approach as appropriate scaffolding for skill development though.
I finished reading the book yesterday that I really enjoyed the last few chapters, where the author had to come to terms with the fact that her younger daughter needed something different than what she was doing.
What I got out of the book was:
- it's ok to push kids past what they think are their limits; people are capable of a lot
- lots of practice and time spend working on things = success (this is repeated in Outliers, which I just finished)
- expecting a lot from kids isn't going to hurt their self-esteem
- don't become a total psycho
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds 11yo dd 9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds