The With-You Principle--one of the best teaching strategies for homeschoolers

The With-You Principle--one of the best teaching strategies for homeschoolers

Renee EllisonJul 8, '20

A child with an undisciplined mind learns internal discipline by gobs and gobs of experiences of external discipline. That is to say, lots of attentive time with Mom/Dad or tutor.  (Discipline here is not used in the punitive sense but rather as the ability to apply consistent, well-ordered thought to a project or line of study).

A child’s immaturity to discipline himself, i.e. to do that which he would rather not do, either mentally (with studies) or physically (with chores), might be renamed “lack of internalizing enough external experience with someone”--i.e. being very unsure, fearful, overwhelmed (from the child’s perspective). These children cover it up by laughter, antics, wandering thoughts, resistance, “I don’t care.”

The traditional response from parents to laziness or lack of personal discipline in a child is anger and/or upping the time spent on task or upping unpleasant consequences. Sometimes, all the child really needs is more attention, for a while, beyond what the parent was predicting the child would need. Children need more close time in a relationship with someone with whom they feel secure. They desperately need lots of time with an uncritical person who will splinter the task into bite-sized pieces of success for them. Sitting with children and doing every problem them him for awhile, telling hem what to think for awhile, exposing them to how it is done over and over and over again…with encouragement, and patience is what will eventually diffuse his or her emotional resistance and feeling of overload to life. This kind of time, even for an older child who hasn’t matured as quickly as others, is what will eventually build that person's own stamina with his own internal discipline.

That is why it is okay for parents to do science projects with their children. The child has never been down that road before and doesn’t know where he is headed or how to get there. The poorly done projects of children who had no parental help nail the point. Children learn by doing, and even just by observing. They pass through the experience as a larger person, because of the hand-holding.

When Susanna Wesley’s husband asked, “Why do you tell that child that [math principle] sixteen times?” She answered, “Because, sir, if I do not go onto the seventeenth time, when he finally gets it, I shall lose all my beginning energy.” The great surprise to parents is how much focus the majority of children actually need. But the great reward down the road is that they “get it” thoroughly and become far more disciplined than a child who is pushed to be on his own too soon--before his own maturity kicks in.

That is why the Suzuki method of teaching music to three-year-olds is so successful. Mom or Dad is with him in executing every measure, in the beginning. Finally the child takes off like a rocket, needing no help at all!!! It is the child who pushes the parent away when they are ready, not vice versa. Our modern culture leaves a child at day care (the baby dump) at an outrageously early age when the child is still clinging to the apron strings for a reason.

A child left to himself with a worksheet over in a corner will never become the tenaciously aggressively disciplined, confident adult that he could have been. Approaching life (in its minutiae) with Mom and Dad or a one-on-one tutor, incident by incident, builds a very mature and “can-do” adult. Maturity happens when you aren’t going after the ( i.e. looking for) maturity but instead focusing upon providing a voluminous experience base within a supportive relationship.

By the way, the marvel with the ACE homeschool curriculum is that you can sit with an older child (one who is past phonics) to just get him launched and for many it is only three days, or merely a week before “maturity” sets in!!!

Just more thoughts for your hopper!

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