Teaching Tips - General

Sell It

Part of excellent teaching is "selling." Excellent teaching uses the same persuasion techniques that great sales people use.

So, when you want to teach something to your child, if you want to make things easier, sell it to them first. To sell it, tell them the "benefits" of learning it (just like a persuasive sales person). What's in it for them? What can they use it for? Show them how it can allow them to do something they want to do.

If you really want to teach effectively and efficiently, and keep your children happy, too, the key is to get them interested first. It's much easier to teach something to someone who is interested in it. Showing them the "benefits for them" just like an advertisement or sales person would, really works in teaching.


First your child must be "ready," that is mentally and physically capable of learning what you want them to learn (capable of learning the information and/or performing the task). If they are not developmentally ready, they will have great difficulty with the learning.

If you start teaching something and they appear to be not ready, stop teaching that thing at that time. Don't force them through it just because you started teaching it. We all make mistakes now and then. Sometimes we have to back off. It's OK if that happens. You won't be a bad parent, unless you don't back off when it's needed.

Once they are ready, you just have to get them interested. People don't learn what they are not interested in. If "you" want to "decide" what they will learn, you must get them interested, or they really won't learn much. This is where you "sell" it to them. What's in it for them?

Math Example

For example, suppose I want to teach some math, from the packaged curriculum we are using. (Notice the "I" here, that is, I am the one who is deciding what the child is going to learn. This is not child led learning, at least not yet.)

For math, what can "they" use it for? At some point children get interested in money. You could point out that math is useful for counting their money, and for buying things. If you don't do the math right, it could cost you some money. One girl I know is very interested in animals. Her mother uses examples of how much food to buy for a number of animals, each eating so much per day, and for so many days. This wouldn't work for my son, but mention business, or building things, or engineering, and he's in (he wants to take engineering, so the word "engineering" works for us).

The Key - What Do They Want

The key is you have to find something that they already want, or that they will want (like a specific job). With younger children, it may be as simple as showing them something that is interesting looking to them.

It gets easier to sell them as they get older, but it is essential that you get them interested.

But once they see that it's in their best interest to learn it, they will be fully motivated to learn it. They will want to learn it. They will help you teach them. They will even go out and learn it on their own if they are capable of doing so, and if they have to. And your teaching won't be "pushing" them, it will be answering their questions for things you know, and helping them find resources and materials for things you don't know. You will be assisting them on their quest for knowledge.

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