Have you ever been in a situation like this picture where you feel like the subject that was being taught or discussed was waaay over your head? Yeah, me too! So, when you get “the deer in the headlights” look from your child when you are teaching something, remember the time that you felt this way. It helps you realize what they are feeling and the frustration that is occurring. Here are some things I have found helpful having been a classroom teacher and home educator.
- Is background information needed before teaching the concept? I know this sounds like an automatic thing, but sometimes I forget that I am starting at ground zero with my student. Do not assume your child knows what you are talking. Orally quiz them to see what they know. If I asked you to explain the laws of thermodynamics you may not be able to do so because you just don’t know (or it has been a long time since you learned this <lol> ).
- Speak in simple terms. When you are teaching something, you must talk to your pupil in terms that is understood. You might be discussing how to write a thesis statement for a paper, but you don’t have to jump right in and say that. Explain the concept (thesis means the main idea of paper) and then introduce the terminology. I taught 8th grade Earth and Space Science and I didn’t use technical terms until I explained it simply.
- Use hands-on experiences as much as possible. Did you know you learn much quicker and concepts are remembered longer the more senses are involved? If I explained to you how to make a soufflé and you didn’t have any directions to read, it would be very difficult, in my case, impossible! I will be able to make it if I can read the directions (see) , watch a video (see, hear), and make it (feel).
- Model and work together with your child. Let’s say you are teaching your child to learn to write the upper case L. You can start with a large surface and use paper and pencil until they get comfortable with that and using the writing instrument properly. Next, move to writing on paper. Using handwriting paper, have them trace the letter multiple times while instructing them. Demonstrate as you talk about forming the letter. (Start up at the top of the line and go to the bottom, etc.) You can put your hand over the top of their hand, guiding as they work on the letter. Don’t let a child do something independently until you see success.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again! I listen to a teaching pastor that I dearly love because he explains something and then reiterates what he has just said by coming at it from a different angle. If you have explained division and your child is still not understanding, try using different modalities. Use manipulatives, find a video that explains it, start with simpler problems, etc.
- Stop and come back to it. Sometimes you just need to regroup and return to the subject. You may need to go back and review previous concepts. Your student could also just need to ruminate about the new material.
I hope these ideas are helpful.
Have a great week! ~Lisa~