Observance is an important part of learning about your child. By listening, observing, and practicing new methods of teaching, you can assist your child to learn in the way that best suits them.
Any parent who has researched the principles of Montessori learning will know that interrupting your child’s play and exploration is not advised. Even if the intent is to offer praise or provide assistance, interfering with spontaneous learning and concentration sends the message that what your child is doing is unimportant, and will subsequently discourage their actions. Much of this principle holds value when applied to homeschooling. If your home education philosophy is child-led, or inclusive of the idea that your child has the freedom to realize their true passions and aptitudes, this will sometimes require you to take a back seat instead of the wheel. The benefits of this ‘sit and watch’ approach are apparent for both parent and child. If your child has the freedom to explore and discover independently, they essentially become their own teacher. And in the process of mastering how to teach themselves they will recognize the most effective ways to do so, employing their own strengths and strategies.
As a parent and educator, this provides you with the opportunity to observe the way your child operates. Notice how they play with their toys. They might neatly align them in rows. They might dissect things, or build things, or reverse engineer. They might use everything as a prop in imaginative role play, or pretend an object is something entirely different. When choosing a book, do they prefer a long one or a short one? They might opt for one with pictures, or plenty of chapters. They may favor reading aloud to themselves or listening to someone else read. Among these actions are significant clues about the inner workings of your child’s mind, and the way they view the world around them. It is important to remember that all of the aforementioned are completely acceptable ways to facilitate the absorption of information.
When introducing your child to something new, it can be effective to allow them to show you their own way of deciphering it. It can be too easy at times to fall into the trap of “this is how you should do it.” But what if your child’s analytic mind has already identified a way they find it easier, or what if they discover a new way to do something? What if their way works better and they teach you something new? Of course, you might know from the start that their way is illogical or is going to fail, but there is no harm in allowing them to reach this conclusion on their own. You may find that after a failed attempt or several, your child is more keen and willing to be taught.
A particularly defiant child sometimes requires only a very gentle push in a particular direction, and this will achieve much more interest and engagement than giving them a detailed itinerary or bombarding them with resources. For example, if your child is musically talented it makes sense to suggest they partake in formal lessons, but if this is met with resistance there is nothing wrong with allowing them to self-teach or even just enjoy what they’re practicing. Improvising, composing and songwriting are all creative exploration and are still forms of learning.
A child who enjoys writing might typically be encouraged to sit at a desk quietly and put pen to paper, but your little writer might be more captivated when lounging on a couch, music blaring in the background.
By listening, observing, and practicing new methods of teaching, you can assist your child to learn in the way that best suits them. Much of this can be trial and error. For the child who uses everything as a role play prop, utilize this in their studies. Math can be used while playing boutiques or restaurants. Science can be used in playing park rangers or archaeologists.
For methodical children, playing cards or blocks can be useful learning tools. Printing pictures can be beneficial to children who respond to visual learning. The realms of possibility are endless when you identify your child’s favored style of learning. Your homeschool doesn’t need to adhere to what suits the majority of children; it only needs to offer what is best for your own. And there is nobody better prepared to strengthen their child’s natural abilities than a homeschool parent.