Friday, May 2, 2014

How I Keep Learning Positive

It is that time of year again.  The typical school year winds down and people begin to investigate the possibility of homeschooling their children in the upcoming year.  As they begin to seek information I am sure they are experiencing the same thing that Kelley and I discovered. 

Tons of articles that compare scores of homeschooled children to those in public schools. Articles about institutes of higher learning that are beginning to seek the homeschooled student.  Finally, they are reading pro-homeschooling articles about the age old argument about socialization.   We are ending our fourth year so of course I have come to some conclusions myself about these issues and others.  Oddly, there are tons of methods to learn but in all of the methods I have not seen any reference to the need to keep the atmosphere positive.  It has to be positive all of the time. 

Even the best Charlotte Mason style blogs don't address the importance of positive attitude while teaching.  I try to tell new moms that they need be on stage during lesson times. It is important that teacher at home performs at the level of perfection that they expect from a public school teacher.  I expect a teacher to smile all the time. I expect a teacher to hand out compliments every day to every child. I expect a teacher to establish an environment in which a child wants to achieve to their best ability. I expect a teacher to meet each and every child's specific need and accommodate to their learning style without the need for IEP paperwork.  I expect a teacher to be like Mary Poppins.

So when I enter our learning environment I feel like breaking out in a song about flying kites and a spoonful of sugar. (OK that is a bit much) Not only does it foster a relaxed lesson time, it also tends to separate me from my roll as their grandmother.  I am not the kind of grandmother that says yes to everything.  Particularly because I am with them so much, it is important to instill discipline and not undermine the efforts of my daughter and her husband. Therefore, I have a stage and a performance.

If you happen to come across this blog in your search about how to homeschool, let me encourage you to be Mary Poppins.  You child deserves the best experience you can give them.  They deserve to have you perform each and every day.  You expect this in your public school teacher.  Why shouldn't you expect it of yourself? 

Everybody has a bad day. I have discovered that when I cannot be positive that it is best that I do not attempt to do much teaching. Not that we do not still have school.  I will give them a little seatwork to complete and then find other activities to accomplish. Some days that means tending to the barn or the house.  It may mean an impromptu field trip. Even a trip to the grocery store where we can plan meals and manage a budget.  I just hate to introduce information about math, history or language in our curriculum when I am clearly not able to keep in character. 

The result to this approach has been amazing. Some days it is initially difficult to get the kiddos on track. They tend to dream of flying kites and jumping chimney tops. Today I had to tell them I was serious. They looked at my face and were not so convinced but as I began writing on the boards they knew it was time to settle in and begin the day. 

I encourage those who seek information about homeschooling to avoid the fancy articles about how much smarter your children will become. It simply still depends on the effort from you and from them.  Do not worry about how you are going to socialize them.  Unless you are living under a rock they will interact with a wide variety of people in their years and as they age they will learn how to effectively socialize with a diverse group.  AVOID the traps about how perfect homeschooling is and remember that it is only as perfect as you make it.  So in conclusion try to be practically perfect in every way.  Of course you will not succeed every day but if that is your goal then you cannot fail.  If you can keep up the performance during lessons then you will encourage a love for learning, a positive approach to the difficult situations in their lives.