Making This School Year A Success

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by Ellen Doman

58Getting through the school year can be a real challenge for you and your child. As this one gets going, let’s be sure that it’s a great one. Think that’s impossible? You’re wrong.

The purpose of the school year is LEARNING. Make a sign and put it on your refrigerator. We need this posted because we so rapidly lose sight of that goal. In order to achieve the goal of LEARNING, your child needs input, teaching that is efficient and appropriate to your child’s processing level. Hours and hours of output do not produce learning at all. Hours and hours of input over your child’s processing level also do not produce learning. Testing is not a learning process. Boredom does not produce learning. Tedious repetition does not produce learning.

Make good choices this year. Do not spend the year trying to win battles with your school district, meanwhile forgetting to educate your child. Do not spend the year trying to find the perfect piece of curriculum and failing to educate your child. Do not spend the year trying to get your child moved to that perfect teacher, that perfect one-to-one person. Do not spend this year arguing about next year.

Spend this year getting your child excited about learning. Spend this year using efficient input strategies to show your child what it is like to learn quickly and easily. Spend this year taking on the wonderful and joyful tasks of showing your child new things, reading new books, celebrating success.

Be practical about the tasks at hand. Input homework. It’s another opportunity for your child to learn that information. Start the input by reassuring your child that the information is easy to learn, interesting to learn. If it’s boring, make it into a game. If it’s complex or too long, look at the objectives of the lesson and teach those specific objectives. If the homework is overwhelming, write a note to the teacher saying that and stating that you decided not to have your child do it. You’re a grown-up. You can do that.

If you homeschool, DO NOT REPLICATE PUBLIC SCHOOL. Take that boxed curriculum and sell it to someone else or throw it away. Your child will learn quickly if you individualize what you are doing. Make it personalized. Make it interesting. This is a great opportunity to make learning a great experience.

There will be rough days, of course. If your child is tired, congested, hungry, or unwell, learning may not happen no matter how good the strategy. There will also be days when you are tired, grumpy, or stressed, which means that you are going to have either no intensity or negative intensity. If the child is having a tough day, don’t ignore it. Just adapt to it. If you are having a bad day, spare the child. There are many ways to do input, including audio and video input.

So what is the purpose of this school year? LEARNING! Who is going to make that happen? You are! So teach that child how to make dinner, how to change the oil in the car, how to know if you have enough money to go out to eat, how to really enjoy a great story, how to make sure that the siblings don’t get more than they do, how to tell how many minutes it is until they get there, and how much you really care about and enjoy them.

You’ll know it’s working when your child can’t wait to tell others what they’ve learned. You’ll know it’s working when you stop worrying about it because you are doing such a great job.

Reprinted by permission of The NACD Foundation, Volume 23 No. 3, 2010 ©NACD