Stories of tears and tantrums once homework is mentioned aren’t new. I have had numerous parents ask me how I am able to maintain a calm atmosphere whilst learning with my young children. At Learn Tree, you will quickly recognise that our learning environment is calm and children get on with work peacefully. Remember, children can feel, sense and hear our frustration, and this creates a tension that can put them off learning. So, here's how you can curb your frustration and making learning a more enjoyable experience for you and your child :-)
1. Change your assumptions and expectations!
When I look at areas in my life where I am most impatient, I can see instantly that it is because I have made assumptions about the person or issue and my expectations have not been met. if you are frustrated with your child, it must mean that they are not meeting your expectations or those set by their peers, or by society and so we put that burden on them! It is absolutely normal to show frustration when we think they should know better, but it might mean we need to reassess our expectations and ditch our assumptions!
At Learn Tree, we begin a session trying to find out where the child is and help them get to the next step (not the top of the stairs, but the next step) and the next and so on. Once we’ve established their current level, we work to solidify and then challenge them. Remember, you can only set high expectations once you’ve got the foundations right!
2. Little and often, not all at once!
I don't think I can stress this enough. To help ease a child into a new concept it is always best to start early, go slow and practise regularly! Start when it doesn't really matter because there is usually very little pressure to perform. In other words, start way before the deadline or before you think it is crucial for them to have mastered that skill and go at a slow, easy pace. at homework when it arrives and without sitting through it, start dropping the concept into the child’s mind in simple ways where possible.
3. Focus on the process and not the end goal.
Time spent learning with our children is valuable time. Children learn best from those they know love and care about their well-being and progress. So it is important to help your child enjoy the process of learning so that they are motivated to continue practising.
To do this you will need to focus on the child’s improvement and understanding of the concept rather than on completing their work with a 100% score. Homework time should not only be spent looking through the work, but also finding out how your child is coping with the topics and what they find difficult. You could share with them your difficulties at school and how you overcame them. At Learn Tree we focus on developing character traits such as confidence, resilience, independent learning that aid learning as we believe that these character traits result in greater competence!
4. Be positive about the outcome.
you are devoting some time regularly to learning a topic or completing homework with your child, be positive that there is an impact being made and you will see this in the future. A lot of times we worry that nothing is happening. The light is switched off. We want to see instant results and so when we don't see we panic.
This fear and panic what increases our impatience. In truth, something is going in, the child is trying to make sense of it. Stay positive and give it time and one day, with most things, one day the fruits will show. You know, plant a seed-water-wait-water-wait.... Don't try and uproot it all before the flowers begin to blossom. (See other blog post)
5. See it as your role to help them learn...not to teach them
This may sound but I've found this so helpful in my quest to help children learn. (I'm going to talk about gems a lot now). Rather than see myself as the gem keeper whose job it is to pour these gems of knowledge down the children's throats, I imagine that all children have gems of knowledge in them or the ability to learn and it is my duty to help them draw it out. Think about it, it is much easier for me to hold a child's head back and pour these gems into their mouth, but highly uncomfortable for them. However, if I see my role as having to draw these gems out then I rethink my whole strategy.
I work with them. They be willing to release the gems they are holding inside. I teach them how to do it. I create the environment, nurture and encourage them until they feel confident enough to share that gem with me. I encourage them, be patient and positive for them to feel safe. This way of thinking makes me approach teaching differently. It is my job to help you learn, not to teach you the subject!
6. Take your pride out of it
We may not realise it but our pride, , gets in the way. To put it simply, do not assume that your wonderful way of delivering will automatically be lapped up by your little one. If they are not getting it, it usually means they are not ready, you are not explaining it well enough, or you are not explaining it well enough 😀. Don't get mad, just change your method, change the time of day you teach (if you can), change the atmosphere, change something, change everything. Just remember, if they don't get it, then it is not enough for you to get frustrated with them.
I am sure that there are more points you can add to this list, just think of areas of your life where you are incredibly patient, study why you are able to remain calm and try and apply that when helping your child!