The picture above cracks me up. The mom and child are neatly dressed. The child is happily gleaning from the mom's wisdom and desires to learn. There are no distractions in the background and the kitchen table is obviously neatly wiped down. I would wager that the statement right before this picture was taken was probably something along the lines of, "Mommy, please don't stop sharing your knowledge with me. Will you please teach me some more? I could sit here for hours because I want to be smart so I can get a great job and care for you when you are elderly."
Get real! Life isn't like that.
Here is a question that a mom posted to our ABC Jesus Loves Me Facebook Group page:
I am kind of concerned about getting my 3 year old to really listen to my teachings. She went to a Christian Preschool program last year and it was such a great blessing, the teacher was amazing. Unfortunately it is closing now due to costs and the economy. So now I am gonna be teaching her at home. Has anyone had struggles with teaching at first, and how did you get past it? I found it is easier to teach other children, and more difficult to teach your own child. I have found that my child shuts down quicker with me than others. How did you get past this?And so goes the frustration of a mom who has tried to teach her own child. My blood pressure rose many times as I watched Bubs' Occupation Therapist get him to do things that he never would do for me.
Daily teaching your own child academic concepts is very hard because it is just another level of roles that you place on yourself and your child. Already you are the child's mom which includes nurturer, provider, trainer, and disciplinarian. Other people can simply be the child's teacher without fulfilling the other roles. Also, teachers can distance themselves from the situation where it is very personal with you.
So, how do you get your child to "do" school several times a week?
- Put on the teacher hat and lay the Mommy hat aside.
As we just discussed, this is a hard one. But, the more you can take the "personal" aspect out of the situation, the better it will be. Also, come to school time with a clean slate. Don't bring with you past offenses.
- Create Realistic Expectations
Don't expect your vivacious child to sit for 90 minutes straight and do the "drill and kill" method of learning. Plan activities around your child's energy level and interest.
- Start Small
If your child has not learned to sit for small periods of time, training will need to begin. On the first day, teach the child how to sit (criss-cross, hands in their lap). Make a song or game out of it. The 2 Year Curriculum has suggestions and ideas on this. Then work for 30 seconds of sitting while you read or teach a fingerplay. Slowly increase the intervals until the child can sit for an entire Bible time or story.
- Monitor the Child's Subtle Clues
Know when your child is done. The child may become very antsy or may begin to stare. These are clues that you need to do something different. Either take a break or move to a different environment. Do jumping jacks together or run around the house to get the blood flowing again.
- Make Learning Fun
No intelligent person ever said that learning should be boring. Have fun with your child and enjoy the energy for your preschooler. As stated on the ABCJLM website, the curriculum are guides for parents and teachers to make sure that the various aspects of learning are covered. The majority of objectives can be covered in normal day play, craft, and sit down time. The adult simply has to draw the learning out or incorporate the learning into these times. Each of the lesson plans as well as the ABCJLM website include many ideas on how to do this. Be sure to check out the "Extra Ideas" section in the left hand column on the home page for ideas.
- Play, Play, Play
This goes along with the last point but it is still important. Incorporate the learning into fun preschool activities and imaginary time. Use playdough, shaving cream, cooking, balls, lacing, cars, bath time, songs, car traveling, and the list goes on and on. Again, many play ideas can be found on the ABCJLM website and in the "Ideas" section of the lesson plans. (Thank you, Rhonda K, for reminding me of this.)
- Make School Part of Your Weekly Routine
When the learning is part of your weekly schedule, the child learns to expect it as the norm. Establish a set place and time to hold school. Also keep the behavior expectations appropriate and consistent.
- Don't Ruin Your Relationship with Your Child
In teaching piano lessons for 20 years (I started very young), there is one statement that I have told parents many times when their child doesn't want to practice the piano. "Don't ruin your relationship with your child. Allow me to be the bad guy." And I say the same thing you. If school time is putting a strain on your relationship, then stop. Take a break. You may need to find someone else to add to your team. And, that's okay.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to Be Part of School Time
Start your day with pray. Start your school time with prayer. The Holy Spirit will be help you.
What additional ideas do you have to get your child to "do" school?