In The Growth Mindset Coach by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley, the reflections often cite the classroom experience or relationships a teacher has with the students and their families. How can this be useful for those of us who choose to educate our children at home? I’d like to offer you some ideas that may be beneficial in your situation.
Chapter 4, “I Am a Valued Member of This Learning Community,” features strategies to build relationships. There are few other people in your students’ lives who can purposefully and positively affect their education experience in the way that you as the homeschooling parent(s) can. “Students know that the teacher has faith in their ability to achieve” (Brock and Hundley, p. 77). Students know that grades are less important than growth” (p. 78). In this dual-role as both parent and teacher, our words and responses to our children can demonstrate our commitment to each one as a unique learner.
The authors also highlight how sharing common interests between teachers and students can build relationships. Parents can use their own journey with learning as an illustration of how they have overcome obstacles and challenges in their own lives. Study your children to determine the most positive way to provide feedback based on the way they respond to correction. Continually remind them of your confidence in their ability to learn and achieve as they develop in determination and persistence toward specific educational goals. Resist the urge to focus merely on “grades” as the indicator of mastery of material as you present the need for growth over grades. Endeavor to find ways to include your children’s outside interests in a relatable way to your subject, or as a way to deepen your relationship with each child as you listen carefully.
On page 85, the authors describe the differences between “the coddled classroom, the nurtured classroom, and the disconnected classroom”. The traits of the desired “nurtured classroom” are also valuable for the parent-teacher. Some highlights include: consider mistakes as learning opportunities and provide extra chances; encourage your student to challenge him/herself; remind your student that achievement gains are possible with effort and practice; and guide your student to manage his/her own learning with you as the facilitator (p. 85).
The motto for Chapter 5 is “We love a challenge!” When you homeschool your children, challenges arise, don’t they? In order to build perseverance and determination in your learners, they must be given opportunities which provide challenge. Carol Dweck writes “It is crucial that no student be able to coast to success time after time; this experience can create the fixed-mindset belief that you are smart only if you can succeed without effort” (from the Educational Leadership journal, quoted on p. 96 in The Growth Mindset Coach). Each one of our children may learn in a different way and at a different pace. You quickly discover that it’s important to adapt your materials to each child you are teaching at home. The advantage of being able to personalize the learning and challenges for your students is built into home schooling! There are a number of suggestions found in this book regarding differentiation and challenge (pages 105-108) that make it a valuable resource for the home school family. Consider adding this resource to your library!
- Kathy Burns