One day a few years ago when attempting to stress the value of bringing a good attitude into a school assignment our oldest son was struggling with, it occurred to me that it was an issue of "buckets". The image of me (i.e. the teacher) lugging a bucket full of information, directions, and skills to the loft (i.e. our classroom) came sharply into focus as I realized that I had nowhere to put its contents! Unless our son (i.e. the student) brought his "bucket", full of importance, cooperation, and energy to "activate" the contents of my "bucket", we weren't going to get anywhere.
Often times, we lug our "bucket" around thinking it is enough. But it is not. Without our child bringing his "bucket" to the table, we will not make the progress that we know they are capable of making. We can bring the abilities and the teaching to them, but if they don't place importance on the learning that is ahead of them, we will be stuck. Ultimately, it is like having an un-watered seed that is full of potential but remains untapped until the right ingredients are introduced to it.
So if this describes your homeschool environment take these suggestions to heart:
1. Ensure your child understands that you are God's agent. Sometimes we get stuck using the age-old phrase, "do this because I said so!" When we make our children believe that we are the end-all, be-all of the line of authority that controls their life, we are doing them a disservice and are misrepresenting our role in the process. Instead, make sure that they understand that parents are accountable to the Lord for how they raise and educate their children. So emphasize to them that when they don't cooperate with you, they are really being uncooperative with the Lord. Similarly, when they don't place the proper importance on an assignment that they should, they are really sending a message to the Lord that they, not His parental agents, know what is best.
2. Know what motivates your child. Different kids are motivated by different things. So be sure to tie your expectations for their academic performance to something that is important and precious to them. Make sure they understand that they need to fill their "bucket" with the focus and enthusiasm necessary to fulfill their responsibility to "receive the teaching", as we say in our home. If this doesn't happen, then whatever extra activity or experience that they value will not take place that day.
3. Make sure your "bucket" has a reasonable content level in it. Often times, we can frustrate our children when we have a substantial list of assignments and expectations that look fabulous on paper but in reality are very difficult for your child to fulfill in a reasonable amount of time. Even a motivated child can become discouraged if it seems like the day's "ability bucket" never seems to be completely or even mostly empty.
It has been said that education is the "lighting of a fire", which is true. Yet, we all know that "buckets" are involved as well. So, once both parties know what to put in their "buckets", when to bring them to each other, and how to mix them together, the homeschooling day and related learning priorities will progress at an appropriate pace for both the teacher and the student.
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.