Your Voice is Precious to Your Children

Your Voice is Precious to Your Children

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.

The Homeschool Alliance

What is Learning Well? – with Alicia Hutchinson

Brave Writer Podcast: Alicia Hutchinson

Isn’t this fun? I am loving our new season of the podcast. In Week 3, we went over 17,000 downloads. Whaaaat?! Thank you. So glad the podcast is meeting a need.

The wonderful Alicia Hutchinson is up next. She’s a powerhouse of support and help to homeschoolers. Her community called “Learning Well” offers parents practical imaginative ideas to create a great homeschool experience without fussiness or the scourge of perfectionism.

Such a perfect fit for the Brave Writer Lifestyle.

The funny thing about Alicia is that she never really saw herself as a mom – much less a homeschooling mom. Now she can’t imagine life without homeschool. She blends her natural artistic flair with curiosity and creativity to engage her children. Her Instagram feed is also gorgeous! Be sure to follow her (@learningwell).

Listen to the Podcast

You can also download show notes.

Brave Writer Podcast Show Notes
Download Show Notes

Want to be notified when a new podcast is released?
Sign up here.

Tune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunes, Stitcher (or your app of choice), and here on the Brave Writer blog.

Would you please post a review on iTunes for us? You’ll help a homeschooler like you find more joy in the journey when you do. Thanks in advance!

Friday Freewrite: Cooked Egg

Friday Freewrite

Write a story to go with the picture.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Poetry, Sports, and The Crossover with Kwame Alexander

Brave Writer Podcast: Kwame Alexander

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

We have a BONUS podcast for you! We had the opportunity to chat with Kwame Alexander, the Newbery winning poet whose books are turning a whole generation of Internet gamers and readers into true-blue lovers of poetry!

We featured Kwame’s book, The Crossover, in February’s Boomerang Book Club. It’s is a coming-of-age story told through a mix of free verse and hip-hop poetry that uses basketball as its subject. Publishers turned down Kwame’s book proposal dozens of times. I asked Kwame about it in the interview. His answer is hilarious! You’ll want to hear it.

Listen to the Podcast

You can download show notes for the episode.

Brave Writer Podcast Show Notes: Kwame AlexanderTune in to the Brave Writer podcast on iTunes, Stitcher (or your app of choice), and also here on the Brave Writer blog. Please post a review on iTunes!

Also, check out Kwame’s books: The Playbook, The Crossover, and any of his 20 other books!

A Boomerang for The Crossover

One more thing! Brave Writer offers a Boomerang (the language arts tool that uses living literature to teach writing mechanics and literary devices through copywork and dictation) specifically for The Crossover. You can purchase it now as a single issue. Geared toward 7th to 10th graders, this Boomerang pops and sizzles with a wild variety of punctuation choices, font sizes and styles, and rhythmic language.

You Want Them to Disagree with You

You Want Your Kids to Disagree with You

Trust me on this.

When you get that inevitable push back to your great ideas from one of your kids, the initial energy surge is, well, about like this:

“Wait, what? Why are you not cooperating with my genius plan for your life? If you simply do as I say, we will all be happier.”

Your “genius plan” includes a whole slew of practices and beliefs that wind up in disputes with your kids. You ask them to:

  • Wear shoes rather than slippers to the store
  • Hang up coats before they sit to watch TV
  • Agree that brushing teeth prevents cavities
  • Choose to go to bed before 3:00 am without nagging
  • Realize that the family can’t add two ferrets to the pet menagerie
  • Accept the family budget limits; no big dreams
  • Enjoy G rated films rather than PG and R films
  • Support the family politics and religious viewpoint
  • Date the right people
  • Eat the food the parent prepares even if the child doesn’t like it
  • Help around the house without ever being asked
  • Finish every book, even if the child loses interest
  • Complete assigned schoolwork without ever complaining
  • Suck it up when having a bad day
  • Reserve silliness for the “appropriate” times
  • Put on a jacket because it’s cold
  • Never argue with a sibling
  • Always show gratitude properly to everyone
  • Be polite, kind, and generous no matter what

… you can think of more.

These seem like perfectly reasonable requests of a child—until you see them in a list… And then, don’t they feel like a straight jacket of good manners and expectations rather than the organic growth of a human soul? Is it possible to be kind, polite, cooperative, and helpful all the time, every day, no matter what? Yet this is what we ask!

Kids know (intuitively) that they grow when they challenge authority, when they ask big questions, when they resist what doesn’t feel right to them. They push back not to make a parent’s life miserable. They push back to explore the boundaries of the ideas that inform the request.

For instance, why is it better to hang up a coat when you first get home rather than an hour later after watching TV? Is one choice morally superior? Is one action more necessary? According to whom?

If we pause and consider why a child resists our plan, we discover that a whole different calculus is at work. The child has different priorities—and these priorities make a natural, personally-arrived-at-sense for the child. The choice to “civilize” a child into the family standards can be experienced as stifling, as nonsensical, as irritating.

When kids have had too many commands in a day, sometimes the child simply picks the latest one to resist, “But why? Why does it matter when I hang up my coat?” This question feels like disrespect when in fact it is the self standing up and asking to be noticed.

We respond, “Don’t try to get out of it.”

We say, “Coats need to be hung up immediately or you will never do it and then I get stuck with the task.”

We chide: “I’m tired of your stubbornness.”

We give up: “Fine. Leave it out. See if I care.” (Except that we do.)

What’s needed is engagement! Think instead: Aha! There’s a child thinking, processing, wondering.

“Good question! I like it when we hang up coats because it keeps the house a little neater for me and I am a nicer mother when my field of vision isn’t cluttered with stuff. How do you see it?”

If we share our truth and then invite comment, we give our children a chance to witness our own priorities and how we came to them. We allow them to mull over their own. It’s so tempting to play parent rather than to connect!

When your child challenges the plan, pause and remember: This brilliant child of mine is using her mind, is exercising his will and choices. Draw them out—”Tell me more about why you believe tooth-brushing is a waste of time and doesn’t prevent cavities. I want to hear more about where you learned that and why you believe it.” Then really listen!

Big debates on topics of moral importance to your family go much better if you’ve cultivated a habit of listening to your child’s pushback in the early years over things like bedtimes, jacket wearing, and what to eat for dinner.

Children and teens become self-regulating when they are allowed to challenge parental regulation. Boom Right? How are they self regulating if we tell them what to do ALL the time? The only way they learn how to form their own priorities is if we take them seriously when they tell us what those are!

If a child isn’t polite or doesn’t say thank you? What happens? What does that child experience? Sometimes they need to find out through action, not blame and shame.

A child who wants to stay up until 3:00 am to play an online game with a friend in another time zone is creating a new life habit—going to bed later, sleeping in. Is it worth it to find out if this is a boon to that child’s happiness and thus life before considering it from a parent’s point of view? We’re so quick to say, “You’ll be too tired tomorrow. So no.”

Your kids grow in direct proportion to how well you allow them
to explore their own understanding of why they do what they do.

The more children get to expose and articulate their own thinking, the more power they have to create meaningful lives. They may not always side with your interpretation of what creates a great life, but they will be better able to negotiate with you when they know that you respect their efforts to communicate their own vision.

Next time one of your kids argues with you, stop and think: “This is great! I see a mind at work. I must be doing it right.”

Then enter into the conversation with curiosity and love.

Image by Catherine Murray / Fotolia

For Coaching and Support
Join The Homeschool Alliance