I have always known I would be a teacher. I remember lining up my dolls and stuffed animals as a child and diligently teaching them their ABCs every Saturday. While others worried about their career paths, I had an inner calm already knowing my purpose. And I was right. Twenty years out of college I can look back and see the many students whose lives I touched. More importantly, so many of them touched me. I have worked with infants through college, Deaf Education, Special Education, and Regular Education. I have had students that are adults now find me on Facebook and tell me how much I helped them. Several have become teachers themselves and give me some credit for making that decision. And yet…
Without a doubt the students I loved teaching the most are my own twin daughters, now age 19. We did have periods where I homeschooled them, and for our family it was the best decision we could possibly make. Whether you are homeschooling or not, there are still many, many things that you need to teach your children. I learned so many skills as a teacher that I used with my children at home, and I realized this is something that every mom can benefit from. So I decided to list some of my favorite suggestions here below.
- One of the most difficult skills a good teacher MUST learn to do is break down information into smaller bites. WE know the information already, but our children do not. Think from the child’s perspective. Break the information down into small steps. Do not go to step two until they understand step one. This takes a lot more time, but it is so worth it in the end.
- Don’t be afraid of silence. When you ask your child a question, wait. And wait. Aaaand wait. The fancy word for this is latency, but the purpose is the same. We already know the information, and the fact that we were going to ask it. Your child does not have that knowledge. Plus, if it is a child who is struggling, they may need longer time to process that information.
- Variety is the spice of life. It is also the spice to teaching. When you are teaching something new, talk about it, read about it, youtube about it, make something about it… Make sure your child has the opportunity to see it, hear it, visualize it, and experience it. The more opportunities they have to learn in different ways, the better they will internalize the information.
- Wash, rinse, repeat. Repetition is critical for a struggling learner. Research has shown that young readers need to hear a story read to them up to 20 times in order to internalize it. It’s the same with any new information. Go back to information you have already taught and review it from time to time. After you’ve taught the concept, let them take a turn to be the teacher and explain it to you or a younger sibling.
Random Teacher/Mommy Handwriting Hack:
When you are working with a child that has atrocious handwriting, try writing what you want them to practice with a yellow highlighter first. They can copy the highlighted letters and get a feel for how they move. This will give them more confidence when they write on their own.