Teaching Tips - General
I have mentioned this before, and this may seem obvious, but it is extremely important that we educators keep it in mind.
When a person is ready to learn something, they learn it very quickly and very effectively. When they are not ready, they won't learn it well, it will be frustrating for them to try to learn it, and it will reduce their self confidence.
Since children develop in stages, physically, mentally, and emotionally, at any one point they are ready to learn some things, and not other things. The exact age that each child will be ready to learn a specific thing, will vary a bit among normal children. Children who have learning disabilities, will be quite different in when they are ready to learn certain things.
Also, just because schools teach a certain topic when the students are a certain age, does not mean that is the best age to teach it at.
We home schooling parents have a huge opportunity here, to teach our own children each topic when they are ready, so they can learn it faster, with less effort, with less frustration, and so it will build their self confidence, and encourage them to learn more.
When Are They Ready?
If we can't assume a child is ready to learn a specific topic at a certain age, then the question is, how do we know when they are actually ready? The key is to try things, and see how they react.
Most parents know instinctively that if their child is uncomfortable in a learning situation, their child is probably not learning much if anything, and the best thing to do is stop. If you have done your best to motivate your child (to get them interested), to use good teaching methods, and you have checked for learning disabilities, if your child is quite uncomfortable in a learning situation, they are probably just not ready yet.
There are lots of stories among home schoolers of children who read at age 3 or 4, but also of children who didn't read until age 9 or later. Often these children who were ready later, have done very well in college.
Check For Other Problems
However, if you think your child should be ready to learn something, and they are not, get help. Have them checked for learning disabilities and any other health and/or physical problems.
And, don't overlook the more obvious things of eyesight and hearing - sometimes these change over time. My son didn't need glasses until he was 7 years old (we had him checked every year because we both wear glasses).
But when it comes to specific topics, if they don't seem ready, don't push it. Investigate why they are not ready, and try teaching them the topic now and then (every few months).
Readiness and Independence
It is interesting that children who go to school, often look more independent than home school children, when they are younger, but when they get older, the home schooled children become a lot more independent (and I mean a lot more independent, for example they are much more likely to be entrepreneurs, and be civically involved).
If a person is not ready to do something, and you push them to do it, they will probably do it, but they will have to work harder at it, and there will be a lot more fear. If you do this to a child regularly, they will associate learning new things with difficulty and fear.
On the other hand, if you push them to do it when they are ready or almost ready, they will have much less difficulty, and their fear will be much lower. If you do this regularly, they will associate learning new things with confidence, with their ability to do new things, and with fun. They will develop an "I can" attitude.
This is the high self-confidence that they will need to be independent, confident, effective adults in our society. It is also needed to do things that are difficult like entrepreneurship, or challenging the status quo, or trying a new way of doing something.
This is a benefit of home schooling in general, but part of this comes from teaching them when they are ready.
It takes practice to learn how to sense when someone is ready to learn something, but the most important thing is for us to be aware of readiness, so we can be the best teachers possible for our children.
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