Let’s start with a quick exercise. Raise your hand if you have now morphed into a part-time teacher. Most hands are up, right? This has been quite the year—challenge after challenge—and homeschooling has been a big part of it for the parents out there. From staying on top of our own careers while trying to maintain a small slice of sanity, we somehow managed to “zoom” into the education world for our children, as well. Never have we felt so much respect for teachers! As many of us continue to homeschool, it’s time to reframe our approach, regain our control, and start to feel empowered.
Enter Kimberly Berens’ Fit Learning method. Her book, Blind Spots: Why Students Fail and the Science That Can Save Them, is a must-read for both parents and teachers on how to effectively educate our students by learning to see them as individuals and discovering their blind spots. Based in behavioral science, the approach explained in the book allows us to improve how our students understand and move forward. And as our kids start to crush their goals, we can get back to ours, too. Here, we highlight a few key takeaways from Dr. Berens’ methods… we’re planning to start applying them today.
1. Don't let your child be a word-guesser. Work with him/her to identify the sounds of letters, discriminate between vowels and consonants, and sound out words. Looking at the first letter of a word or guessing the word based on context clues won’t help your child move forward. And remember to read at home… but not just at home! Encourage reading road signs, menus, billboards, you name it. This helps the student gain confidence and doesn’t make reading feel like a task.
2. It’s OK to challenge an educator’s analysis of your child and it’s OK to reframe their approach. If a teacher is frustrated with your child for not listening to the rules and questions their development, or even recommends getting him/her tested for learning disabilities, remember to take a deep breath and suggest a different plan of action. A simple rewards system, like giving the student a star every time they follow through with instruction (and reinforcing that with privileges and treats at home for each star they get) can work wonders in getting them to follow the rules.
3. Remember that having a student be upset is an essential part of the learning process. Don’t give up and reinforce the easier, bad habits… this won’t help the child learn. It is going to get worse before it gets better. As Dr. Berens puts it, “As a culture, we like immediate gratification.” But as we read through her book, we know that it is OK to have the bad moments and it is OK to for your child to have tantrums during their educational progress. Learning does not happen overnight and it takes lots of reinforced practice, and that’s exactly what programs like Fit Learning are there for. Dr. Berens and a team of scientists have spent the last 20 years perfecting this powerful system of instruction based on the learning, behavioral, and cognitive sciences. To learn more about the program and find a location near you, visit here.