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Learning to Guide

Home education is like no other. The freedom you have to teach the way your child learns is truly a blessing. Becoming a great learning guide can completely transform your child's education, making your homeschool journey come alive! A concept I struggled with in my early years of homeschooling was guided learning. Guided learning is an array of education practices that promotes learning through guiding and increasingly, independent investigation of problem solving. This approach could be very interactive like hand over hand or as minimal as sitting close enough to your child to offer assistance. You learn so much about yourself through homeschooling your children. Your personality, personal education experiences, upbringing and preferences will challenge your ability to practice child centered teaching. However, only when you accept this challenge will you be able to let go of your educational brain washing and begin to teach the way your child needs to be taught. My daughters were as different as day and night. My oldest was a self starter and extremely independent whereas her sister needed guiding in all concepts of learning. It was hard for me to adjust to her level of dependence. Just my presence would bring about tremendous abilities in my daughter but the moment she was left with an independent lesson, she would not accomplish much. As a busy, working, homeschooling mother; this would leave me exhausted. The work seemed simple enough. She knew the lessons. Why couldn't she get through basic assignments efficiently? My elementary schooling education was strict and fast paced. You either knew it or you didn't. We were forced to memorize facts, read early and do timed assignments. For me, it was always a race to the finish line. I didn't want to be left behind. I did not want to be teased for not knowing the answer when called upon. Elementary school was brutal and middle school was worse. The sad reality was, I started to unconsciously recreate the same environment within my homeschool. I noticed my daughter becoming nervous every time she was expected to complete an assignment on her own. She didn't need my help. What she needed was guided learning! She needed my support and reassurance. She needed me to walk her through the lessons until she was confident enough to walk on her own. If only I knew then what I know now! My home education methods have completely changed. Guided learning is used from the very early stages of learning and is continued throughout our homeschooling process. Guided learning has a lot of benefits and effects on our children, their entire education experience and our family as a whole. I started to actively participate in my children's lessons, but in addition to participating in their lessons, I started to learn more and more about myself. My strengths and weaknesses. Our family is more closely bonded because of our hands on participation with our children in their education. As homeschoolers we are the essential part of the educational process. We have a great role in motivating, managing and guiding our children. Though homeschoolers may face some problems in creating the environment for effective guided learning, they can try to find some solutions for these problems. The technique of guided learning is used to create an independent learner over time. A confident learner who is able to find the appropriate information they need and manage their own learning. As parents we should be good guides by creating a fit environment for the learning process; by organizing your children's lessons and work materials and giving them clear instructions for the task. In addition, we must encourage and motivate our children to participate effectively. We can do that by authentic praise, stimulating and even challenging them from time to time to get them do their best to achieve the task they are working on. To achieve effective guided learning, in addition to using different teaching methods and techniques, the homeschooler should use teaching aids such as books, posters, flash cards, videos, computer lessons and field trips to keep the child's attention and show them how to use different resources to extract the information. It may be very trying at first, as it needs a lot of effort, especially from the educational brainwashing we endured in public schools and to get the family accustomed to it, but in the end it somehow lightens the burden of homeschooling by becoming a guide. Moreover, guided learning needs all efforts to be integrated to create an independent learner who has the ability to get their information from different resources, to do their best work, reflect on their outcomes and modify or improve their work, after receiving feedback. The guide also needs cooperation and encouragement. In the beginning I felt like I was wasting time sitting their offering reassurance. When in fact it saves time in the long run by building confidence, a solid foundation for independent learning and a lifetime of exploration. I have come to enjoy the process of guiding more than given commands. We have fun and make every moment count during our lessons. I have found it is less stressful. A guided learning session may take an hour from start to finish. Whereas independent work for an insecure child may take hours and then the frustrations of having to correct each assignment. Lets not forget the emotional defeat for both parent and child. Make each session fun and productive. Allow your children to choose the order of the subject matter and what materials they would like to use to explore the subject matter. Have your children keep learning journals on each subject so they can take important notes, record vocabulary and special formulas. They can always use their learning journals during review. They are also great keepsakes to look back on and add to homeschooling portfolios.

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