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No More Homework-Enforcer: Become Learning Coach Instead

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No More Homework-Enforcer: Become Learning Coach Instead

Learning Coach by Linda Dobson

Plummeting test scores, school terror and violence, an increase in the number of children complaining of stress and depression, and observation of basic skills that don’t measure up to report card grades have all played a role in the booming awareness of and need for educational alternatives. But nothing has impacted the shape and delivery of those alternatives as has twenty-first century technology – computers and the Internet – available for increasingly affordable prices to American families.

Computer learning coachA Learning Coach Has the Internet

Where once the school building was known as the information “storehouse,” today the Internet serves as a collection of global information on any matter of interest or need. The same information typically dispensed in schools, in the same curriculum format, can be found on the Internet. But the Internet has also thrown open a door to information you and your child can take at will, 365 days each year, in any order or sized chunk you care to digest.

Availability of information and the ability to freely choose how it is received are the emerging hallmarks of twenty-first century education. Taking advantage of them represents a drastic departure from even your own educational experience just one generation ago.

Sadly, school systems ensconced in the status quo and providing a large percentage of employment in every metropolitan city and rural town show little interest in changing. But who can blame them? Freeing individual children and families to assume some degree of educational responsibility would rapidly reveal the status quo as an antiquated, inefficient, totally-dispensable-in-the-21st-century system. Promoting the availability, ease, speed, and customization available today – right now – to anyone who wishes to partake, would surely hasten what many already see as the system’s inevitable demise.

“I really struggled through science in school – and summer school,” remembers Sally, a real estate agent with three children. “It must be in the genes, because recently my daughter, Alicia, was suffering the same fate. I tried to help with her homework, but it didn’t work. Then one night, after I felt like the worst mother on the planet for yelling, ‘Alicia, I can’t believe you don’t understand this – this is the easy part,’ I knew I had to do something different.”

On a whim, Sally booted up her computer that night and after surfing until 1 AM “hadn’t even scratched the surface of available help!” After school the next day she greeted Alicia at the door with two pages of Internet addresses offering everything from alternative texts to “instant homework help” to interactive, home-friendly experiments. “Her favorite seems to be www.sciencemadesimple.com,” says Sally, where she enjoys the projects and almost always finds one related to whatever they’re studying in class, and has taken to watching science in the news at the site, too. “What a relief to know I can best help Alicia, not by pushing her through a textbook she doesn’t understand, but by keeping my eyes and ears open for different ways to accomplish the same thing. And neither one of us misses that fighting!”

A Learning Coach Has Mailing Lists

Tom, a single dad to Nathan, took another route in their home. “I could tell Nathan really enjoyed writing science fiction, but I couldn’t do much more than read what he wrote and comment, ‘Yes, this is very good,’” says Tom.

Tom knew a co-worker was getting lots of good advice via an e-mail group of professional financial planners, so he wondered if a similar group existed for science fiction writers. “My buddy’s group was on yahoolists.com, so I checked,” Tom says. “Sure enough, there were a couple of groups that looked good for Nathan. Now I still encourage him, of course, but he gets real advice and constructive criticism on a couple of lists with people who share his passion.”

(See also “Five More Ways the Learning Coach Approach Is Different From Traditional Teaching.)

Countless other families also daily discover the helpful educational resources available via the computers sitting in their living rooms and dens. But this is only a brief, first glimpse at the opportunities that await parents willing to embrace the emerging possibilities of 21st century education. Let it help you boldly step out of the role of homework enforcer into the much more pleasant role of learning coach.

From
The Learning Coach Approach: Inspire, Encourage, and Guide Your Child Toward Greater Success in School and in Life by Linda Dobson (Running Press)

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2 Responses to “No More Homework-Enforcer: Become Learning Coach Instead”

  1. lisa says:

    The link for http://www.sciencemadesimple.com in your article points to the wrong site.

  2. grandma_linda says:

    I just fixed it, Lisa…don't understand WHAT happened there, but very much appreciate you notifying us…many thanks.

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