“…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” –Eph. 6:4 (NKJV)
During the many years I have taught both children and adults, I have learned a few techniques that have worked for me. Since so many are now teaching their children at home, perhaps sharing them would be helpful. Of course, every situation is unique. However, I have found that the following worked for me:
1.) Keep on a schedule. Schedules give security and routines help in planning time.
2.) Questions work better than statements. Questions force the learner to think. Statement reactions are usually “maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t”. Then it is usually forgotten.
3.) Repetition of instructions more than two or three times is not good. When you keep repeating, the learner knows s/he doesn’t have to listen the first time because you will say it again. Also, you may want the learner to repeat the instructions back to you.
4.) A soft voice is better than a loud voice. Yelling is not good in any case. If the child isn’t listening, you may want to walk to the child, stoop down, and whisper.
5.) Repetition of learning matter is a good thing. Some studies say that a new learning needs to be repeated at least seven times before it starts to “stick”. This is especially true with math.
6.) Use as many of the five senses as possible. Multiplication tables can be written (touch and sight), and/or said aloud (hearing). Candy M&M’s or wrapped candy can be used for counting (taste).
7.) To force a child to read carefully, give the child a few pennies. Each time a mistake is made, the child must forfeit a penny. (This works well with group reading to have the other children listen for mistakes and then the one who hears it first gets the penny.) It holds the attention of the other children, (When a group is reading aloud one at a time, usually the mind of those not reading aloud wanders until it is their turn.)
8.) “Engage pen; engage mind” works. A friend of mine won a national teaching award when her Pueblo Indian students (learning English as a second language) tested above the national average in language. She said, “Pat, I do one thing. Every morning I have the class copy something that I feel is important for them to learn. I check it for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, etc.” What should they copy? The Preamble to the Constitution, parts of the constitution, Scripture, rules for punctuation, rules for working math problems, portions of a text book, are all good possibilities. This is a good activity if a parent has work to do to keep the child busy with something that is very good for the child.
9.) Math builds on itself. Start where the child is first having trouble. Understanding basics is essential to progress.
You may have noticed that I did not say “make learning fun”. Fun should not be a goal, but may be a by-product. Life is not always going to be fun!