Better Learning Happens in Homeschooling and Other Settings by Avoiding Lecture-Style Teaching

This is so good! Please read it if you ever teach anything to anyone! Please especially read it if you are a homeschool mom!

Don’t Lecture Me! Is a brand new blog post essay by Alfie Kohn. It addresses high school, college and university lecture style teaching. It could very much be applied to teaching in church classes, teaching in Family Home Evening, teaching homeschool at all levels, including and especially homeschooling high school. It could even include homeschooling university or college if that is what you want to do. 
Lecture style teaching is what much of my elementary, junior high, high school and university education consisted of, but it was not what worked best for me. I remembe well the lessons of the teachers and professors when they used other means, such as hands on learning, forcing us to discover answers to difficult questions via our own investgations, group preparation for presentations, and class dicussions.

I do think it is funny that he says that using a power point presentation proves the uselessness of the lecturer. I remember going to listen to speeches or going to classes wherein the lecturer said not to worry about copying the slides because a handout would be given to us with all the slides of the power point included. That makes me just want them to write a book I can read in my pajamas late at night or early in the morning, or in the afternoon when I am trying to catch my breath again after a stressful few hours. Really, more of these people should be writing books. Why are people afraid of writing books 📚 but not afraid of creating a power point presentation? I would rather write a book. I do not know how to make a power point presentation. I guess each person has a preference.

Parenting, Homeschooling and Lectures

When I lecture my kids, whether about socializing, the gospel, housework, gardening, getting along with each other, math, history, art, grammar, science or behavior,  I see them not caring.

Sometimes I get after them like it is their fault they are bored 😷 sick. I say something similar to, “Should I stop ✋🏼 then? I feel like you are not listening.” Their replies are programmed and in unison because of past lectures they have heard from me. They say something like, “No, Don’t stop! We are listening!”
Sadly, I go on, as if I think their reply means that they will learn now because they will now listen to my lecture with renewed enthusiasm. It is so silly. I am so glad Alfie Kohn wrote this. It really makes me think about the way I parent and teach homeschool to my unfortunate child-students. I feel like he wrote it just for the benefit of my poor children so that they can have better lessons taught by their homeschool mom and by their mom!

Here’s to a goal and to hope for more future effort on my part, given to being a more effective (non-lecturing teacher so that my kids can learn better! Go, me! I can lead discussions! I can ask questions which make the kids figure things out on their own! I can teach hands-on lessons!

college classes, smaller classroom sizes in college, lecture style university teaching, university lectures, discussion, power point presentations, constructivism, housework, homeschooling, grammar, history, math, gospel, gardening, writing a book, children, listening, goal, hope, better homeschool mom

Socialization in a Different Light

IMG_2896I quite often get asked about socialization, since my kids are homeschooled. The worry of the folks is that my kids will be weird and will “Stand Out.” Please watch this video at the link below and think about what it would mean for this woman to stand out. It is hilarious and hard to believe. It is what really happens to adults here in this video. If it can happen to adults in a real-world situation, it can happen to your kids in real-life situations, too.

Where do my kids get socialization from, if not from public school? The truth be told, they are mostly taught by me and by one another (siblings). This is not a bad thing. This means that my child will be taught manners, politeness and empathy by me. They will be taught about making friends, bullies and standing up for themselves, by me. When they play with kids they socialize with, all of the homeschool moms are there. They all influence the kids. When they socialize with adults in the real world, as they often do, they are taught social behavior by those adults. Even then, most of those times, I am still there.

Many people think this is crazy and that it means I am too controlling and I am not letting my kids grow up and be mature. The truth from my perspective is, I do not think that before they are mature adults, that they are old enough to be away from me as long as kids who are in public school are away from their parents. I am still training them because they still need it. I do not think that letting go of time with kids is supposed to happen too often before certain ages. I do believe that as kids get older, they can keep the socialization they learned from me when not with me, more and better. For this reason, I allow them to be away from me more and more as they get older.

One thing that appalled me about the Weber County Early Intervention Pre-School I took my son to years ago and stayed to observe, was the following. There was a girl with muscular dystrophy and maybe also cerebral palsy, in the classroom. She cried and cried. I wanted to get up and go comfort her. I did not but I asked the teacher why nobody cared that this girl was crying. The reason, she said, was that she cries like this every time she came there. She told me, “Just ignore her.” A few minutes later, her extremely militant, very cruel physical therapist came in. This therapy was probably something the parents were happy that their daughter could have for free at this government-paid-for preschool program because of her “individualized student plan” needs. I do not think the parents knew what was going on. This physical therapist, who, quite obvious to me, had never experienced the things that this little girl was faced with, called her lazy and stupid, yelling at her, then forcing her to move. The little girl said it hurt and the therapist just kept telling her to move and stop being lazy. All of this, my son and I were supposed to “just ignore.” Everyone else was just ignoring, after all. I decided not to send my son to this place. It was a place of no empathy.

Now watch the video on this blog post (Reason #330 to Homeschool) so that you know what I am rambling about!

“The Myth of the Spoiled Child,” and Societal Guilt Pressure

We have been going from strategy to strategy in parenting. Finally yesterday, my husband and I went out and talked about ONLY THAT. We decided to be better at going with what we know works consistently toward influencing permanently the heart and soul of our child, which is Unconditional Parenting. 

Other strategies like punishing and rewarding only last so long. Then no matter what, the parents have to come up with one new system after another. The problem is that the other systems are about having CONTROL over the child. They are not about helping the child to understand the deep-rooted reasons for kindness or learning to read. Instead they are about power and subordination. They are not about respect, but about children deserving or being, less than adults (which is all about power and subordination). 

Reading John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of Education” at the same time and having recently also, read much of “Fabian Freeway,” I see things which cannot be ignored or unmentioned. Fabians are Socialists who decided to take down our Constitutional Republic slowly over time and without anyone noticing. Soon factories replaced entrepeneurism, apprenticeship, the cottage industry and trade-learning at a young age. The argument, then, was that children should not be working in factories and the option to be in the home was not the alternative given. Instead, the alternative presented and which took hold, was to put the children in public schools and to train them with corporal punishment (physical punishment) and embarrassment in front of peers, as a means of teaching them to become subordinates. This was all part of the Socialist doctrines the Fabians loved. 

Today I decided to pick up and read “The Myth of the Spoiled Child,” by Alfie Kohn, the author of “Unconditional Parenting.”

“The Myth of the Spoiled Child” is helping me so much. Years ago, I read many of Alfie’s books. I was very convinced that he was right. However, over the years, it has been very difficult to live that life with my kids because of:

1) the method I was raised with by my parents, getting into my brain.

2) the methods of others around me seeming to work better at helping kids become good people

3) the arguments and protests of others wearing down my resolve

There is so much pressure put on parents by THEIR parents, to CONTROL their kids. I cannot find an end to the desire of all of us to “get them to behave.” The freedom comes when they become adults, because when they are adults, then of a sudden, regardless of their behavior, they “deserve RESPECT” just because of their age. Alfie argues that were people to teach their kids that every human deserves respect, and then actually give the same respect to children that adults get, that would be good. Treating people with respect because they have earned that respect would also make sense. Sadly, though, it is more like this: The adults deserve respect just because they are adults, and kids must do what adults say no matter what.

Let’s look at this just from a criminal’s perspective, or, as my kids would say, the way a “bad person” would see things. Pretend you are the bad person, And want to do harm to a child. Do you like this “Adults deserve respect” and this “kids must do what adults say no matter what (no reason needed)”? Mmmm. Yummy, eh? Great philosophy, from the perspective of the evil-at-heart! From the perspective of the abusive parent? Also grand.

When you look at it that way, you must be thinking, “No! I teach my child to respect all people, and only when that respect is deserved?” If you do feel that way, then you will be happy to know that the book, “The Myth of The Spoiled Child,” is all about just that, so pick up a copy and read it.

This book is wonderful at helping me to understand why others see things differently. Knowing why helps me to be able to see things from the perspectives of people like my relatives, and then be able to, knowing why they feel this way, help them understand and be able to be compassionate and understanding of their view at the same time.

One thing he said is that largely, a nostalgic desire for the past because of a feeling things change too fast, is what many suffer from. Another is guilt. Parents may be made to feel guilty if their child is loud in a quiet room, even if nobody is criticising them. This is how I am. Because of my upbringing and the pressure from others, I worry what others will think of me as a parent if I do not do something to try to CONTROL my child.

I must add that just having read this book a bit, does not mean I am now perfect at this method, nor at parenting at all. It is a long process of learning, experience, repentence, more learning, improvement, etcetera. I have no clue what I am doing, as a matter of fact. 

I Love That My Daughter Asked, “What’s a 4.0?”

Just now, my daughter found out her cousin of the same age, is in all likelihood, going to get a 4.0. She asked, “What’s a 4.0?” It will be difficult to explain my elation to most people around here, because in my “neck of the woods” here, things like that are so important.

I am an Alfie Kohn fan, and Alfie Kohn does really great job explaining why grades are bad. I will sum it up and then give you a link somthat you may read his awesome and very true essay.

Why grades and grading, in school, are a bad idea:

-Society cares about them, gives importance to them, and does not ignore them. (Ignoring and not valuing them would help a ton).

-Grades can cause suicidal thoughts, whether they are good ones or bad ones. Kids with good ones feel very much pressure to keep getting good ones, because others value grades so much.

-Kids do not see their value the way God does when they see their worth through their grades. They feel like the love they receive is received by merit.

-They do not feel unconditional love when their parents or teachers are “proud of them” for their grades. They feel love dependent upon the achievement of good grades.

-Grades do things to teachers. They make teachers say things like, “If you do not, you will have a lower grade.” The grades make the teachers forget the real reason why the child should do as they ask, which should be, to learn. I would prefer no grades so that thr teacher could say, “If you read this book, you will become more wise, and wisdom is a great treasure!”

-Kids feel like as long as they have perfect grades, they are done with the learning in that area. If they have a perfect score, they figure they are perfect at it and cannot go higher. Grades give the sky, a limit.

-In Alfie Kohn’s book, he talks about a study that shows that kids who get a 3.99 feel a lot worse about themselves than kids who get really low grades, because they were close to perfect but did not make it to perfect. These kids are so dramatic that they feel like their lives have been destroyed, if they get a 3.99

-See with the other perspective for a second, which is my perspective. If there is no “A” or “C” or 4.0 or 2.0, the child can focus instead on learning and learning and learning some more. There is not the pressure to achieve. Whatever is learned just makes the child want to learn more.

-My daughter’s reasons for writing a story now are, “because the article made me want to.” Desire fuels learning. She just read an article in the paper about the McKenzie Wagner’s “Benotropia,” which my daughter bought just because she wanted to read a book, because reading is her hobby. She used to be in public school. In public school, she says, she hated reading. She doesn’t know why she didn’t lie it then. She just didn’t.

-My son loves to learn science because it is awesome. He loves learning about animals, especially. He loves learning history because you can learn about the past because it might happen again. He loves learning about other cultures because when you learn about what they do, you may want to do it, too. My son likes learning math because it will help him with science.

I know to most people around here, my family is very strange and these ideas are so foreign that I belong in a museum of the weirdest things on earth. Only experiencing it would allow you to see how great learning for the right reasons, really is!

I promised an Alfie Kohn link, but I have found a few really good ones, so I will post all of them.

No Grades + No Homework = Better Learning

The Case Against Grades

From Grading to De-Grading

Grading: The Issue is Not Why, But How

The Dangerous Myth of Grade Inflation

It’s Bad News If Students Are Motivated to Get A’s” (Youtube video of lecture)

Achievement vs. Learning (youtube video of lecture)

Public School, Homeschool and Behavior Issues

My son used to have major behavioral and psychological issues when in public school. In a week, I noticed slight changes. In a month, I noticed more changes. After 3 months, his issues had been cut to 60% what they were when he had been in public school. After one year of homeschooling, I think the behavior issues were about 40% what they had been in public school. Now it has been almost 3 years. He is older, so, granted, that could make a difference, too, BUT I think homeschooling has made a bigger difference than age. He has behavior issues still, but they are down to about 20% what they were when he was in public school.

I wonder so often, whether they would even exist, had he never been in public school, but that does not solve anything, so I shouldn’t.

I will tell you some things that I think made a difference for my son. They are important to me. I cannot guarantee they will work for you. Every family will do different things. I am sure something here could help someone, though, so here it is.

When I began, I had already read about 6 books written by amazing author Alfie Kohn, including “Unconditional Parenting” and “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” which I recommend you start with. His books are very thick because of solid references which are in the back of the books. These take up about one third of the book. I looked at the references and used them to decide which books to read next. These were also very helpful.

I love “The NDD Book,” about how your child getting enough sleep, exercise and the right nutrition, will spfor sure affect his or her behavior. My child does get more sleep out of public school, because if, for example, we happen to stay up late on a Thursday night, visiting relatives or something, the he sleeps in the next morning (Friday). When we do an exhausting field trip, project, co-op or gathering, he eats and naps. He naps whenever he needs it and I let him, because he does not do it very often, and I have talked with him about how his body will tell him when he needs it. Usually when he has a meltdown, we feed him (that helps) and then he will go lie down for a one hour nap. When he gets up again, he is cheerful, kind, helpful, obedient, etcetera.

We have discussed what works best for him, with him. He likes this. When we forget to do this for a while, things do not work as well. He also needs regular one on one love and individual attention. Before he really “got into” reading, I used to get up in the morning and, first thing, read to him sitting in a chair in his room, to help him wake up. I read for half an hour. This helped him get out of bed cheerfully. It also helped him feel loved and helped us bond. I cannot deny that it made him love books, as well.

I teach my kids via eclectic homeschooling, and one thing included in 60 to 90% of our homeschool, depending in the day, week and month, and what is going on, is letting him learn however he wants, and whatever he wants, as long as it is within our religious standards. A lot of people call this unschooling, but I prefer to just describe it, as the “un” has such negative connotations. He learns a ton this way, and the freedom of this approach takes away a lot of behavior issues.

We also use an LDS curriculum called “L.I.F.E. School.” “L.I.F.E. Stands for Life Integrated Family Education.” The kids all get the same lesson. Then they do their work, which is similar, so they can help one another, but it is different for each grade level. I love it. It makes things so much easier for me. I do not have to do as much work to out things together for my kids to learn. The gospel is woven into every lesson. It teaches art, geography, history, science, literature, poetry, theater, reading, grammar, paleography, spelling, and many types of writing. It teaches dictionary work and research, essay

The only subject not included in this curriculum is Math. I am fine with that. I work hard at math teaching, most of the time. When I do not, I have to make up for it later.

“She Needs to Teach her Kids That”…They Don’t Have to Share!

I like Alfie Kohn books and from them, I learned why not to make kids share. They were different reasons, but I see this reasoning being just as good. His first reason was, that at that age when parents usually teach them to share, they are not developmentally ready to share. He also said that we, as adults, do not share everything with everyone. I have my linocut supplies, which I would never share with my husband or kids. I hate it when my kids get into my file cabinet. My new, nice books are not to be touched by the kids. Sharing husbands is not what we do in the adult world. I do not share my kids. I do not let whomever, come in my house when they feel the need, because of my golden heart, and share my house. I do not share my private life details. They are mine. See? There are certain things we do not share, even in the adult world! The third reason is this: forcing them will not help them to make the decision themselves. Sharing is kind and it is also their choice. Instead, I say to my kids, before a play date, that we should hide the toys they do not wand to share. I ask, “Which toys do you want to share?” Sometimes I forget. If I do, and the other child wants the toy my child loves, I say, “He does not want to share his car and that is o.k. Would you like to play with one of these instead?”

This will better prepare them for the real, adult world. They will not share everything when they get older. Why should they when they are little? It makes no sense to force them to share!

I do think there is merit in teaching them to share in other situations. For example, with food. If there is only one cookie and my child wants it all to herself, I say this: “If you share, you can eat it in front of them. If you do not wish to share, go hide, and eat it in private.” My kids sometimes choose to share. Sometimes, they choose to hide it wnd eat it later, in private.

They are also learning, that sharing is nice to do and can make the other person happy. I let them learn this on their own, and they do learn it on their own. Sometimes, even with q toy they love, they will, out of the blue, say, “You can use this if you want.” Then they see the other person’s happiness, and smile. They enjoy seeing the other happy. It was their choice, so they are aboe to feel the good feelings that come from sharing. If I had forced it, they would have only felt resentment toward me, toward the other child, and toward the society rules which make them do this thing. They would learn to hate sharing.

I hope this article was enjoyable and that you understand me a little more now!

Weekdays with Dad as the Sub for our Homeschool

This week, I became very sick. I had just made a new schedule and new expectations, which really were just small changes to the old, to accommodate for the new weather and the new requirements of baseball little league games. My husband took two days off work to fill in.

I was very grateful to him, but did not expect what happened. He was amazing. He got the kids to do half of to what is on their lists, which is more than I have been able to get them to do since I started nursing our newbie. It was very inspiring, a glimpse into the future of what life may hold for us when newbie increases his baby food intake, allowing me to be up and moving more often.

What did he get them to do with his help the first day? (Nothing short of miraculous):

Groovy Grooming
Leave No Trace Breakfast
Beautiful Bedrooms
Lovely Living Room
Discover the Book of Mormon
Spelling City on iPad 15 minutes each
Math on iPad 15 minutes each
Reading history half hour
Leave No Trace Lunch
In Evening, Dinner and ball games for multiple kids

The second day, mind you, I felt better but did not feel recovered enough, so with a clean house, he worked on the budget a week later than we usually do, and I did the child care, housework, and recovery. This is what we did:

Groovy grooming, which took all day for some kids
One kid cleaned dining room alone
Two kids did spelling and math o the iPad
Softball practice outside for one
Reading the Hobbit Outside, for another
Cleaning the Living room, for one child
Making beds
Discover the Book of Mormon for one child
Devotional for one child
Lunch, which was cleaned up a couple hours later
Softball practice with team for one kid
A visit from grandpa for all kids
The reconciling of the old budget by dad
The creation of the new budget by dad
Going to bank to get cash by dad
Grocery shopping by dad
Mom and dad date time with the eldest watching the kids

I must give a shout out to thank all the awesome fathers of homeschooled kids out there. You can do it, you are great at it. You are part of the learning these kids are up to. Thank you! You do a lot more than people know. You are needed, very helpful, indispensable and amazing!