Brave Writer Podcast: When Learning Isn’t Fun with Anne Trott
Banish the breathless anxiety of challenging topics (like math)!
It’s painful to watch our children struggle, especially when we (as home educators) are the ones assigning the topics!
Guess what? There’s a solution.
Anne Trott, today’s podcast guest of honor, wrote to me asking: How can I push past the difficult learning moments without damaging my relationship with my children?
We patched together a plan, Anne did her “homework,” and the end result is truly encouraging.
You won’t want to miss it!
In this episode, we cover:
- Taking the pressure off your children—and yourself
- Meeting your child where he/she is and valuing hard work
- Learning how to trust the process not just the final verdict
- How to be an advocate for your child
What about when learning isn’t fun?
Parties take a lot of energy, creating a “fun experience” takes energy, and when we put our heart and soul into what we imagine will lead to fun and then we’re met with resistance or apathy, it can be discouraging.
We’ve probably all heard grumbling about math and writing assignments. Heck, we were kids once – we’ve all grumbled about math and writing assignments! However, children still need to engage with subjects that they don’t think are fun.
So, how can we help them do this? What makes a challenging goal personally meaningful enough to persist through struggle?
People have to come to an epiphany; to a point where what they want outweighs the struggle of getting it.
As parents, we often say “I have a goal on your behalf,” instead of letting our children take ownership. But children need ownership and personal meaning for a subject that currently feels irksome! They need a personally meaningful goal, actionable steps for getting there, and your support along the journey.
If you ever start to think your children are trying to get out of something, remember that they’re not deliberately setting out to thwart your will. The truth is you’re often the only one who agrees that a task is important, and they’re just telling you the truth. They haven’t yet bought into your vision, so you have to communicate with them so that it can become a shared vision.
Really, our goal isn’t to make it fun; it’s to make it meaningful. Meaning is valuable. There’s something about them feeling connected to the meaning that motivates the exertion beyond it being fun.
People can’t persevere when they don’t see the point. So, how can we help our kids see the meaning?
- Math is just a language describing real world experiences: money, weather, temperature, physics, flight, gravity. There are so many places where math actually shows up and describes the world back to us in a meaningful way.
- Spend a day looking up, for example, pitching speeds, watching baseball videos online. Understand the different speeds and techniques of a curveball, screwball, fastball, etc. How can we see math as the fabric of the universe rather than an isolated school subject of skills that has no relation to the rest of our lives?
- Give opportunities where you aren’t hovering. We sometimes forget the power of leaving our children in the midst of their curiosity and surprise.
- Nurture the context and recognize that things are hard for your children sometimes, just like we struggle with things. So, lower the bar to experience success!
- Tackling the worksheets:
Situate your child in a context of value to their daily life.
Re-think the context for how we master that skill.
Partner with your child and supply emotional imagination to bring meaning to an irksome task.
Involve your child in setting goals. “How many math problems do you think you’d be able to do today?” At the end of the week/month how can we celebrate the finish line?
Brainstorm ways that fractions are in our lives, then choose activities for that month that involve fractions. Example: every time we get to 20 or 30 completed math problems, we can bake a cake.
- Remember that the writing muscle is still growing.
- Keep seeking opportunities and staying open – allow your child to see you’re their ally and partner.
Your child writes a word, then you write a word.
They trace what you handwrite for them.
Record or transcribe his spoken words, then either have him trace or copy just like copywork. Then you have his writing while providing the level of support for his individual needs.
- Pick a goal. Commit to it. Have a tangible celebration at the finish line.
- Ask how things are going for your child – check in and show you care and know it isn’t easy for them.
- Find ways to tie meaning to their skills at least once a month.
- You can even skip a day once in a while to take a break.
And remember that you are already doing an incredible job!