Wednesday, February 9, 2011

10 Days of Getting Started: Know Yourself & Know Your Kids

Today's post is all about knowing who you are and what your style is and who your kids are and what their style is! Seems simple enough. Sort of. I speak often to groups of moms with young children and one thing I always tell them is to know what you can handle. That's just as important as knowing what your kids can handle! Sometimes both of you will need to leave the comfort zone, but it's important to know what works best on both sides. Let me give you some examples.


First of all, I'm talking about knowing both you and your kids when it comes to activity level, learning styles, likes and dislikes, and aversions as well as those things that make us sing! 

When it comes to likes and dislikes, my favorite example is crafting. Preschoolers especially need creative activities on a daily basis and most of us have at least one craft crazy kid in the house. It's how they interact with the world and learn. But not all moms are crafty! So, what's the uncrafty mom to do? Well, she needs to get out of that comfort zone and try on some crafts with her kids sometimes, but she needs to choose a time of day when she can handle it best- first thing in the morning if she's an early girl, after the morning nap or later in the day if she's a night owl. The same holds true for kids. Whether your children love crafts or not, the experience will not go well if you choose just before their nap time or another equally poor hour of the day!

In addition, if you are not artsy craftsy, then don't mess with glitter (or insert another horribly messy art medium here)! In other words, know your limits! No one is having fun if mama is freaking out. Trust me. Perhaps this is an area where you'll have to enlist your friends who love to do this sort of thing. I love to pull paint out anytime and I happily take on classes of art messes with kids, but I don't do loose glitter. I know my limit.

Learning styles is another big area to conquer. At least a little. Educators are into learning styles. We have to know them and teach using all the different modes to be able to reach all the kids in our classroom. Moms are not necessarily all about the official names, but I bet you can identify a few key things about your child. The gist of this is knowing how your child learns best. Even if you are just starting out, you'll be able to see that your student tends to excel at one type of activity over another. If you have more than one child, it's easy to see the differences between them- how they approach a problem, how they handle obstacles, what sorts of activities they gravitate toward, etc. Use this knowledge to your advantage in your homeschooling!

You might be familiar with the three general learning styles visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Some kids are really tuned into things visually. They pay attention to things they see. They remember the things they see and really do well with things that get their input through the sense of sight. Some kids listen well. They remember what they hear. They respond well to things they get from their sense of hearing. And some kids do well with their sense of touch. These are the hands on learners. They remember things by doing them or by manipulating something in order to learn it. Most people are a combination of these types. Some folks are really weak in some areas and rely on strengths in others.

Another way to learn about your kids is through Multiple Intelligences. The three learning modalities I just listed are sorta old school now (though still hold true) and Multiple Intelligences is newer (although not new- they were just coming around in the mid-90s when I was in graduate school) information based on the research of Howard Gardner. I can't really do it justice here, but he identifies 8 areas of intelligence. We all have the potential to achieve in each one and they can be awakened or dampened at an early age or at any age. Dr. Kathy Koch has a book/program called How Am I Smart? In it she identifies the different kinds of smart based on multiple intelligences and how you know which ones you are and which ones your kids are. I can't recommend this book enough! I have taken this topic on the road a bit to share it with Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS groups), but it really helps to figure out how your child is smart and how to develop the other areas. Our job is really to awaken as much as we can as early as we can though we know there will always be dominant areas.

One thing I really took away from How Am I Smart is that our kids' misbehaviors come from their strengths. So, if you have a kid who is really challenging...they are using a "smart" in a negative way and you can turn that around if you work on it. So, we should think of it as a strength that needs focus rather than a weakness to be eliminated. Who they are today will cause them to be who God made them to be tomorrow. In addition, Dr. Koch's message really speaks to the idea that we need to raise the children we were given not the ones we wish we had. It's really exciting to hear about the ways we can awaken strengths in our children that God our Creator placed in them! I very much recommend getting your hands on this book. You will be amazed at how it will allow you to work with each of your children in a unique way and to sort of figure out why they are the way they are!

So, what does all this have to do with getting started in homeschooling? Knowing what your strengths are and how your kids work best is paramount to having a great start! If your student hates crafts and you love them and you try to gun out of the gate with all the stuff you love and he hates...that is a set up for failure and frustration on both sides! If you have a hands on learner, doing a lot of writing of math facts may not be as effective as manipulating equation cards. If you have a reluctant writer, playing games might be better than writing to start.

Knowing how you and your children work best and knowing your vision for your school will help you decide what curriculum you want to use or build. Stay tuned for Curriculum Choice as tomorrow's topic.

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Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

3 comments:

Carpenters said...

Heather, I'm so enjoying this series. I hadn't heard of "How Smart Am I?" and will definitely be checking it out. Thanks so much for sharing.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

When we first started homeschooling I had no idea there were different "learners." My oldest learns just like me and she was easy. Then came my second who was completely different! Once I finally figured out she just learned differently things went much smoother...and now with 8 children we run the gamut of learning types. Keeps me on my toes for sure!

Jenny said...

I hopped on over from Special Needs Homeschooling. First of all, I LOVE your blog title! Thank you for this great post to a newbie homeschooling mom. I am the uncrafty mom and my son adores "projects". Oh well! ; ) I also like your input about strengths becoming ornery. Thanks!