TIPS FOR TEACHING ARTICLE – Three Things that Make a Difference

As a parent you are your child's first and most important teacher. You are teaching all the time through your actions and words. When you teach a formal lesson, whether you are home schooling full time or offering a spiritual lesson, there are a few thing to keep in mind.

GIVE CLEAR DIRECTIONS

Give clear, concise directions to get your child involved in the lesson and activity quickly.

  • Try these techniques in the beginning of the lesson and repeat them as needed:
  • Center in your heart.
  • Pause and establish heart contact and eye contact with your child.
  • Give a brief overview of the lesson and tell your child what you expect.
  • Demonstrate what you want your child to do.
  • Encourage your child throughout the activity.
  • Review accomplishments.
  • Begin the lesson when you and your child are rested and happy. Centering in your heart can be as brief as taking a deep breath or as lengthy as a prayer or meditation period.
  • Give directions right before the activity. Don't delay the activity with nonessential information.
  • Limit directions to one or two points at a time. Some children get confused with too many instructions at once.
  • “Let your words be few,” Maria Montessori advised.
  • Demonstrate or model what you expect your child to do. “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
  • Thank your child for his participation and attempts at engaging in the lesson. Appreciate effort!
  • Answer your child's questions as directly as possible. Stay on the topic.
  • Bring lessons to a close with a brief recap of essential points.
  • Refer back to the lessons in the weeks to come when appropriate, to help your child see the relevance of the lesson to his of her life.

MAKE LEARNING FUN

Love and laughter go a long way in promoting a comfortable and fun environment where you child can learn and flourish. Begin by preparing yourself. Maybe you only have a few minutes to review, but make sure you are comfortable with the material. Think of a funny story or joke before you start the lesson. You may or may not use it, but it will help to put you in a laughing mood!

Show your love by listening to your child's questions and concerns as you share the material in the lesson. Feel free to laugh and incorporate movement whenever possible when you teach to strengthen rapport, reduce tension and energize you and your child.

  • Keep in mind the wise saying, “Joy is the motor of life.”
  • Use laughter and redirection to circumvent or minimize discipline problems.
  • If you see a tense situation on the horizon, try to redirect your child.
  • Get up and play a game or sing a song.
  • Tell a funny story.
  • Make jokes about yourself, but don't joke about your child and risk hurting his feelings.
  • Make sure your child understands the difference between laughing with and laughing at someone.
  • Help your child remember what he learns by adding funny stories or anecdotes to the lesson, whenever appropriate.
  • For example, your child might more easily identify with George Washington as a role model if you tell about his struggles.
  • You could even tell them he had a hard time with his wooden false teeth!
  • Have fun–we all love to laugh and have fun; it makes any learning experience memorable.


HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Keep your expectations realistic. When it comes to spiritual matters, you are sharing aspects of a great mystery, not material required for passing a test. Children learn more easily when they are exploring something they find interesting. They have a powerful capacity for understanding deep things in life, but don't expect they will memorize everything or become saint-like.

As you present new material and new experiences, observe what is most interesting to your child and build on it. Keep the lines of communication open and encourage your child to explore how each new lesson is relevant to his or her own life.

It is worth all the time and effort you spend preparing and teaching when you watch your child's delight and understanding grow. And you learn so much about your child and about yourself!


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