Teaching Tips - General
In order for a person to learn, they must be motivated first (they must be "interested" in learning).
Motivation is "the desire to take action now." To be motivated, there are two conditions necessary:
This may seem overly simple, but it is very useful in practice. If you are having trouble teaching your child (assuming they are ready), checking these two criteria could prove very useful to you.
If a child (or adult) doesn't want to learn something, or doesn't want to work on something, it can be from either condition not satisfied.
Theoretically, you can use a positive or a negative reason to get a child to want something.
You can make a child "want" something by making them afraid of a punishment if they don't accomplish what you want, but for most things people don't learn very efficiently with fear, and it leaves emotional scars.
You can also use "carrot" motivation, by rewarding them for learning something. This can work, but it can also get them to produce the results without learning.
The best way to motivate positively, to get them to "want" to learn, is to get the person "interested" in the topic.
Getting a Child Interested - Want
Here are some ways to get a child interested in a subject:
Getting a Child to Believe They Can Do It - Belief
This is a very different problem from a child not "wanting" to learn something, but it may look the same - they may appear to not "want" to learn something because they "believe" it will be very difficult or impossible for them to do.
Sometimes, because of some bad experiences, a person believes they "can't" do something, or it will be very difficult for them to do it.
When a person believes they are incapable of doing something, they can't put much effort into it. There's just no point in trying if you "know" you are not going to succeed. To the child, believing they can't do something looks the same to them as "knowing" they can't.
To fix this, the person needs to have a series of positive experiences, to show them that they can do it. There are a number of things you can do to help your child believe in their own ability.
NOTE: This assumes that the child is actually capable of doing the skill or learning the knowledge, that they are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready, and that they do not have a disability that is preventing them from learning it. If you suspect your child has ADD, dyslexia, or any other learning disability, get your child tested as soon as possible. If your child has already been diagnosed with a learning disability, there are special teaching methods for each disability, that may help you. What is on this site may also help you, but be careful with it, and always do what you find works for your child.
Positive Learning Experiences
To give a child a series of positive learning experiences, you will probably have to go back to easier material or skills. For example, if your child in grade 5 believes math is difficult, you may have to go back a year or two, till you find things they can do easily, and work forward from there. Especially with math, because it is so sequential, the student must have a good grasp and ability in what has gone before, or it will be difficult to learn new things. A few problems like this can convince almost anyone that they are "not good at math."
It is also very important to be extremely patient with someone who is struggling because they don't believe they can do something. The key is to create positive fun "successful" experiences.
Lots of help from you, the parent, may be necessary at first.
Another possibility is to get a curriculum or program that breaks things down into very small steps that are easier to learn. Some home schoolers I know really like the "Key To" series and they say it does this (we have not used this, so I don't have an opinion on it myself). Also, some curriculums are more interesting to some children than others, so changing the curriculum can sometimes help with this. But even with a better curriculum, you will probably still have to help them for a while until they see that they "can" do it.
Another thing you can do is explain the psychology of believing to them. There is an old saying, "If you think you can or you can't, you are probably right." You can try to show them how an "I can" attitude, and an "I can't" attitude, seriously affects a person's ability to accomplish new tasks. Along with explaining this psychology of believing, you can also teach them the affirmation "I can!" You just get them to repeat this a bunch of times. It may seem a bit odd, but it can reach them at the "feeling" level which is where belief is.
Also teach them that lots of practice makes a person better and better at what ever it is they are practicing. This may seem obvious, but deep down inside, many people don't really believe this.
Teach them that for most things we do, we do them poorly when we first do them, because we just haven't got enough practice to do them well yet. Think of doing a new sport or learning a musical instrument. If you can't tolerate doing it poorly until you get enough practice to do it well, you will never become good or excellent at it.
Encourage them. Remind them that they can do it.
Remember they need to want to learn, and they have to believe it is possible (and not too difficult) for them to learn the new skills and knowledge.
When your child is not progressing in a lesson, or if they are resisting your teaching, check both of these.
Also, if you don't understand parts of this, don't do those parts. And when you try any of these ideas, if they are not working, stop doing them. If your child is getting a bit uncomfortable with a learning situation, they are probably learning very little if anything. People need to be comfortable to learn most things, and that includes children. Fear stops learning (of most things, especially reading, writing, math, science, etc. or in other words, virtually everything we are trying to teach them).
So, do what you see works best for your child.
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