Today’s digital opportunities for education are unparalleled and we are all so grateful for the gazillion ways we can ease the load of education by including technology into our homeschools.
We use DVDs, apps on phones and iPads/tablets, YouTube, Netflix, teaching videos from a variety of curriculum companies, Spotify, music CDs, Audible for read alouds, online classes that are video and live broadcast style, and more. These have enormous value which is why they are catching on so rapidly.
In our hunger to be up to date with technology and because of the promise of a little relief (freedom from the pressure to be ALL things to ALL kids ALL the days of their young lives), we dive right into their use with joy! And we should.
Here comes my own tiny caveat that I hope you’ll remember, though.
There is something about your voice (particularly the mother’s voice) in the educational life of your children that is unparalleled in giving them the soothing calming effect that lays the groundwork for learning. Your actual, literal, voice.
For instance, you could play a lullaby CD at bedtime. And that would be gorgeous. But your slightly tone deaf rendition, sung in the presence of your children, filled with heart, emphasizing the words that feel like love to you, will stay with your children forever. You don’t even have to sing every night. Singing to them a few nights a month creates a melody of love in their hearts that they will never forget. Your voice does all of that.
Actors who read classic works of fiction for Audible and books on CD are entertaining and wonderful, of course. Yet their voices will not catch and break the way yours will over the same passages. They will not gasp and respond in choked tenderness the way you will. They will not interpret the story through the lens of your family’s experience the way you can. They will not sound like you to your children.
And that is a loss in reading aloud. Reading aloud is more than getting through the chapters to the end. It’s more than entertainment or a show. It’s a chance for your children to experience you—your values, your priorities, your heartfelt connection to life itself. When you read, your children hear the lift in tone, the pain, the tenderness, and your mother’s love familiarity that warms and soothes them.
Teaching math may appear more effective coming through Kahn Academy or some other text book DVD program at first blush. It may well be that you ought to use that tool so that you, too, understand the methods being taught.
Still, it’s also important for your voice, your kindness, your natural vocabulary to expand and enhance what is given on the screen. Your children are wired to listen to you (even though I’m sure it doesn’t always seem that way!). They retain your words better than anyone else’s. When you share, and are giving and supportive, the tone of your voice (the timbre, the inflection, the accent, the melody of it) literally imprints in a way no other voice can or does! Paired with gentle contact (a hug, a smile, a stroke on the arm), your children have the greatest chance to be soothed and returned to calm (the right physiological space for learning).
My primary point is this: Mothers can create a much more profound learning and loving environment when they USE the beautiful voices their children already adore IN their educations. We are wired to listen to our mothers.
Give them what they need: your loving voice.
This study describes the research to back up this assertion.