How to get involved in the intellectual interests of my child without messing up my schedule

What if Elementary school was only 3 days a week?
May 7, 2017

You can find the french version of this blog post here :

https://humbletriangle.com/comment-developper-les-interets-intellectuels-de-mon-enfant-sans-chambouler-mon-horaire/?lang=fr

 

It all started to bother me after I heard these to things:

  1. ”Mommy! Today I don’t really fell like going to school I would like to play instead” Olivia 5 years old.
  2. ” I am really proud of my son because he’s very interested in reading books and knowing about letters. I try not to get involved in this learning process because I don’t want him to know too much when he’ll get to school next year. He’s going to be bored.” Mommy of Chris, 4 years old.

I know a lot of people that would simply reply to a child who says “I want to play instead going to school” that this unacceptable. I would have said the same thing before, reminding him or her about the importance of effort and perseverance. Maybe I would even add the example of going to work everyday even though you don’t necessarily feel like it. Although I understand the possibility of being bored at any time it is difficult for me to accept completely that a kid HAS to be bored in school. I also believe that I have a responsibility, as a parent, in terms of developing the intellectual interests of my children. We shouldn’t leave schools all the responsibility of educating or developing the intellectual potential of our loved ones. School is way too mainstream do deal efficiently with specificities of people’s brains.

 


I’ve seen bored students: English native speakers in an English as a Second Language class, Kindergartners that can already read in a letter-sound association activities. I’ve also seen overwhelmed students : first graders that don’t understand the concept of numbers trying to follow maths problem. This happens everyday, everywhere in the world, in every grade. And… I am not even getting into the topic of children with special needs in a regular school setting. Again, it is normal to be bored, it’s ok to be overwhelmed sometimes. Kids will learn good skills from both of these situations. But these situations should be minimized in a learning context.

 

Students arrive in class with sometimes as much as 11 months of difference in age between their classmates. It’s a huge difference, especially for the younger grades. Teaching the same concepts to all of them may be counterproductive in my opinion. Even if we are using the strengths of each one to help the weaker students, even by making all children active during one activity.

 

There are educational resources or approaches that can help to adapt teaching to the different types of people. Special education teachers or those teaching in a class of students with special needs ( learning difficulties, neurological disorders, etc), use them constantly because everyone agrees that these students are different. Unfortunately most of the teachers I have seen in my career as a resource teacher don’t use these strategies enough. Why? Economic reasons explain some of this, but also because we parents tolerate that our children are bored at school.

 

I must say that with the development of various pedagogical approaches, children are more active in the classroom. But in my opinion, they rarely have challenges exactly equal to their abilities. However, let us be positive because there is a lot of advancement being done in this field. But it is very slow going.

 

The truth is that as parents it is possible to help. It is possible to get involved in the intellectual interests and therefore in the development of the intellectual potential of our child. Here are some simple ideas that should not mess up your schedule and that should support the development of the academic skills of your kids without being totally academic.

 

How do I adapt/integrate these activities to my busy schedule?

 

Being a parent, like being a teacher, means being constantly in the process of managing priorities. There are always multiple variables and you have to choose the right one to be the most effective / meaningful / fun / organized possible. It goes beyond just saying “choose your battles”. It is basically saying “choose everything you do, and choose it well”. However, in order to make good choices one must know as many variables as possible. In my opinion, the perfect choice of ”battle” in this context, or the perfect project for your child should be:

 

Choose a theme that is most closely related to my child’s interests and ability to be performed in his or her proximal area of ​​development (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_of_proximal_development). This needs to be done without messing my schedule completely and leaving me the opportunity to do my usual tasks. Also ideally this learning activity or project would allow me to spend quality time with my child while not destroying my own free time.

 

A miracle solution does not exist (unfortunately). But, in my opinion, I can get very close by averaging out of all these variables and multitasking. Be brave!

 

  1. Use “transition moment” (such as when you are in the car) to give feedback on some learnings or to make specific allusions to the problem solving steps.
  2. Change the room furniture in your child’s room or playroom to motivate him or her and give them a place to work on their project. Change the organization after each project. For example: create a laboratory, a table to leave a project on-hold. Then take advantage of this to leave some documentation or objects that will help you child to continue his or her project without you.
  3. Encourage even the most wacky entrepreneurial schemes. They will learn by themselves that asking for an incredibly high amount of money for a arts and craft type of project will not allow them to get rich. However, this is not a reason to prevent them from doing so. They will adjust their market studies until they get what they want. You can, of course give them some hints.
  4. Take advantage your any friend’s knowledge. Asking questions to an actual human is sometimes simpler and faster for a child than spending a lot of time searching on the internet. Especially if he/she does not read fluently.
  5. When children have to use adult tools, use the ” permit ” technique that I use a lot in class. This is actually a permit (a small card) that you can give the kids after they received a certain ” training ” and they had enough time to practice the use of the tool. For example, if you want your child to use a real kitchen knife. He would have to start start with a “butter knife license” and then graduate to a “small knife license” and eventually graduate to a ”real kitchen knife license” . During a project you can then give the appropriate tools to your children. They will also know what tools they can use on their own, so you won’t have to monitor everything.

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