Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential
I've really been enjoying everyone's posts on "Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential" by Zan Tyler. I thought I would take this opportunity to jot down a few points I've gathered from Chapter Seven: Providing Stimulating Academics. Zan very cleverly ties the provision of stimulating academics into actual engaged time in the learning process. It was pointed out that a typical day in any school consists of a very limited amount of time devoted for actual engagement. (Our family has been blessed to find superb private high schools.)
Check out some of these teacher complaints: http://www.rd.com/slideshows/slideshow-13-things-your-childs-teacher-wont-tell-you/?trkid=outbrain-all#slideshow=slide34
Engaged time comes in many forms. Webster has various meanings for "engage" with these that may portray best those involved with education: "1) to bind (as oneself) to do something; 2) to provide occupation for: involve; 3) to arrange to obtain the use or services of: hire; 4) to hold the attention of: engross; 5) to induce to participate." The older child achieves a more disciplined, independent, and controlled engagement with their environments while a younger child needs more verbal one-on-one engagement. I have found that the more I've verbalized with my younger children...the more successful they become in their teen/adult years. This is one reason I love to talk about stories with my younger children. Sometimes I even wonder if it matters at all what books they have as long as mom is talking to them. (I know curriculum to fit your child is important too-just trying to stress the importance and priority of communicating to your child.)
Younger children are prone to incorporate into their own characters everything they see and hear. It is a highly sensitive engagement with their world because they are at a developmental age where everything seems to influence them...acting like sponges that take in everything. Images, mannerisms, values, statements, ideas, virtues, vices all easily seep into their porous minds and hearts. They may even tone out important information being passed on to them if they are left to their own devices too much. It is a mother who sees these ques and corrects them. This is why it is so important to avoid prolonged awkward, active, and excessively busy engagement (with the wrong people) that can be detrimental to their development. It appears that this may happen with kids in many schools. (Keep t.v.'s and computers at a minimum). I believe silence is golden for the learning process...the time when God speaks to our hearts.
It is the older child that masters the task of deciphering through extra 'business' and adhering to schedules independently to achieve a successful engagement with their world. Young children have not fully developed the God-given inspired internal mechanisms that an older child has developed through the formation of their sound Christian foundations. Younger children are more easily influenced by externals while older children have an internal capacity to independently withstand more pressure and take on more challenges. Older children have the ability from their earlier preparations with mom to master more stringent academics and schedules.
Note the specific items referred to in this chapter that may involve personal presence and/or dialogue. I made a list and added a few of my own:
1) personal presence (by example vs. exhortation)
2) close companionship
3) gains in family life/unity (result of engagement)
4) interaction (sibling and parental)
5) dialogue/communication/language interaction
6) emotional environment
7) involvement and enjoyment
8) good character/traits
9) connect learning to life
10) exterminate popular vices (fads)
12) listening skills
15) curriculum counseling
16) extracurricular activities/athletic involvement
17) outside interaction with friends/evangelizing
18) preparation time/planning
19) knowledge/love of child in context of family background enhances engagement
20) employs tutorial method
21) outside help/classes/field trips
23) dynamics (interactions and energy/earlier chapters)
24) scholarship and constructive criticism (did not seem to be promoted)
25) political involvement
One statement Zan made that I really wanted to highlight is: "No one rivals the tenacity of a mother when it comes to caring for her children." (p. 155)
God has given virtuous mothers a remarkable capability to bring true wisdom, which is knowledge of the world in relation to God, to her children. "The damage to the American family that is most resistant to remedy derives from the separation of parents and kids" (p. 158) for a prolonged period while they are still in an extremely needy stage of development. Therefore, give your young children a love for learning. Capture moments with them that are priceless to prepare them to engage their world with skill, tact, and finesse. A large part of this comes from the balancing of our Christian principles to be applied to the various situations we encounter.
I would highly recommend this book to homeschool mothers. It is exceptional. If you would like to see what others are saying, visit the book discussion on Amanda Pelser's blog.