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Find and Support Your Child’s Strengths for Homeschooling Fun and Success

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Find and Support Your Child’s Strengths

for Homeschooling Fun and Success

By Linda Dobson


A hungry mind will always find opportunity for more food.

A homeschooling child with time and encouragement to follow her interests will drift toward those activities that provide the most pleasure – just as an adult will! Children usually aren’t shy about asking to hear a book again (for the fourteenth time in a week), or use the paints again, or watch the video of science experiments yet again. These types of actions could all be early indicators of an intellectual strength.

Experiment with Homeschooling to Feed Your Child’s Mind

With the time and freedom homeschooling provides, you have the opportunity to experiment with these early indicators and test your hunches by offering more on the topic – books, videos, classes, tv programs, blank paper, and anything else you can find. Just as a hungry child will eat until satisfied, so too will a hungry mind devour all made available to it. If the mind gets satisfied, hunger (interest) wanes. If not, hunger continues.

This works regardless of the amount of structure incorporated in a family’s homeschooling approach. Even if a family uses three, four, or five hours each day toward completing a formal curriculum’s requirements, a hungry mind always finds opportunity for more food, thus pursuing interests and potential strengths in more depth during other times of the day.

You may find your hunch was wrong, and what you thought was a strength was merely a passing interest. Simply continue observing. You haven’t lost anything; your family has been learning all along, and you’re free to test a different hunch.

You may be thinking, “Teachers attend college for years to figure out this stuff. This sounds too…simple.”

A teacher deals with twenty or more children at the same time. She can’t observe and get to know any individual child as well as you know yours. Even if she notes a child’s particular strengths or weaknesses, she’s on the school curriculum’s path and mustn’t stray. Your intimate knowledge of your child, coupled with homeschooling flexibility, does make learning comparatively simple.

There is a major difference between the group approach to learning that is necessary for a classroom situation and the individualized approach available with homeschooling. “I can customize a learning plan with my son’s input so he always feels like he’s on the edge of his chair, eager to learn the answers to his own questions,” says Leslie, who is homeschooling in Seattle, about her seven-year-old son.

Homeschooling Bolsters Weaknesses

Because Maureen’s older son has symptoms of borderline Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Maureen had to do a little more hunch testing than Leslie. “I thought he was just a boy who couldn’t sit still and needed to be moving all the time,” she recalls.

“I would try to read to him and he would wander around the room. I asked him to sit and within seconds he’d be up again. Then I tried this: I read a couple of paragraphs to him while he wandered around the room, and asked some questions about it. He answered every one, almost word for word what I had read.

“Next, I asked him to sit down while I read a little more. He sat. I read. I asked questions about that piece and he couldn’t answer one. I learned just as much as I need quiet to learn something; my son needs movement and stimulation. He concentrates best when music plays or he can move.

“I try to work with this, allowing him to walk around the table while I read, or using the stairs when we do a quiz; he starts at the bottom and moves up one step for each correct answer.”

A little observation, an adjustment, and a weakness is bolstered.

Homeschooling Supports Your Child’s Strengths

In Vienna, Virginia, Shannon saw early signs of artistic strength in her daughter, Robin, when they were homeschooling, and was determined to build on it. “We’ve always had art supplies around but Robin’s mind generates so many ideas and she consumes such large quantities of art supplies, I started buying in bulk.

“When she was about three years old I gave her my kitchen table for her artwork and we started eating in the dining room,” says Shannon. “Half of our kitchen is Robin’s art studio. We do a minimal amount of ‘book-work’ with our homeschooling, so Robin has many hours during most days for her art. If she’s very involved working on a hot project we forgo bookwork that day.”

A little observation, an adjustment, and a strength is supported.

The information you gain about your child’s learning style or strengths and weaknesses is valuable to others who may also help your child learn. Your observations save them time and energy figuring out to best meet your child’s needs, and make their time with your child more productive from the start.

Homeschooling The Early YearsWant to learn more? There’s lots of important information for your homeschooling family in Homeschooling the Early Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8-Year-Old Child by Linda Dobson. Makes a great gift for someone interested in homeschooling, too!
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