Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Good Teacher

I found this article today, via an email, which made a lot of sense to me:

What Does Your Child Want in a Teacher?

Patient, encouraging - I think I am definitely more like the "Miss Jackson" in the article than the "Mrs. McGregor." Oh, I absolutely love and care for my children more than a non-related school teacher would, but I know that still does not make me a better teacher in itself, despite what some home schooling parents will tell you. I know my first attempts at home schooling were not the best. I didn't really know what a 5 year old was capable of, so I grew frustrated with the slow pace of learning and my daughter very quickly picked up on my attitude. She became frustrated with learning and was beginning to dislike school more and more.

I have been learning myself, though, and have improved my own attitude. Some of that came from learning what a 5 or 6 year old is able to learn, and backing off on my expectations. Most of it has come from stepping back from the day to day teaching and watching the distance learning teachers do their job on DVD. They truly are excellent teachers, with much experience, and despite filming their teaching with no students present in the room for feedback, they know just the right pace to take for this age level. The amount of encouragement required for happy learning has been a learning experience for me too (you'd think that would be common sense for me, but unfortunately, it was not), and my daughter is blooming with the positive attitudes in her BJU classes. Learning how to encourage (and how much to do so) is a wonderful learning experience for me in everyday "mothering" life too, not just during "teaching" times. As my excuse, it is hard to be encouraging sometimes when 3 little children are constantly pestering you with demands, every single waking minute!

I may learn enough before long to be a good teacher myself, but I still think I prefer using the distance learning classes for the most part, and letting my role be that of reinforcing concepts, reteaching if necessary, aiding with "homework," organizing supplies and schedules, picking curriculum, etc. Sometimes it is better all around for the mother to take a step backwards from the day-to-day teaching and just be the mother. Even if a mother does not need to work outside the home, being the only teacher of her children is not necessarily her purpose in life. Sometimes God really does have other plans for mothers, and not all mothers have a desire or aptitude for teaching. God has, after all, given some people the gift of teaching, and thus He must intend for them to have students who are not all their own biological children! I know I am deviating somewhat from my topic and ending up on a soapbox, but I think this is one area that the homeschool world puts too much emphasis on, and seems to look down upon mothers who do not enjoy teaching.

Many mothers make excellent teachers, of course, and are the best teachers their children could ever have. Many homeschoolers decide to home school because they want to be the ones teaching their children, and that is an excellent reason. It's not my reason, however, which has much more to do with providing a higher level of academics, offering more individualized learning, emphasizing math and science more, teaching social education issues (sex, drugs) at the age I believe is appropriate, protecting from the physical/emotional hazards of bullies, encouraging self-respect and self-esteem and independence, reducing peer pressure, reducing busyness and schedule pressures at this young age, spending more time together as a family, and teaching and demonstrating Christian beliefs in the home. I don't want my children spending so much time socializing with children who are disrespectful to authority and their peers (or being taught by teachers who cannot enforce respect in the classroom), who promote immoral and/or un-Christian beliefs, or who spread false beliefs and rumors (about all sorts of things).

Not that I intend to shelter them from all beliefs I disagree with - this is one reason I am including a wide variety of reading from Sonlight and other sources, which introduce different religions, cultures and ideas. But I want to introduce these other beliefs within the framework I choose, particularly at this young age before they have developed the skills of logic and analysis to evaluate other beliefs themselves. I see too many grown people floating around with so many wild ideas they are overwhelmed, especially in this age of the internet, and they do not have appropriate tools of logic to analyze anything. No wonder they think the world is chaotic.

Anyway, this blog has turned out much longer than I intended (which was just a simple link to a good article). I think I need to stop writing now and go get my children back under control!

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