Did you know there are only three things a homeschool mom -or any teacher for that matter- can do when it comes to teaching? You can present knowledge, coach a skill, and co-inquire into truth. No matter what we are studying or teaching, those are the activities you can engage in to help your child learn.
Each activity has certain methods of teaching, assessment, and other considerations that make it fruitful and engaging.
Have you ever read a book? Have you ever explained something to your child? Have you ever listened to a story or a lecture? Well, then you already know a lot about presenting knowledge. The idea of presenting knowledge is pretty simple, the part that seems hard is making sure our kids are learning what we or some other person presents to them, whether it be in a book or face-to-face.
The key to apprehending what is presented is to make sure your child is building a relationship with it. When we do this, we help our students gain relational knowledge. This kind of knowledge is much more durable than simply trying to memorize something in a disconnected way, and it begins with the kind of resources you use. If you are presenting by reading, then use living books (books that show reason at work). If you are presenting knowledge about art or music, look at the art and listen to the music. If you must present something through a lecture, then tell a story. These living ways of presenting knowledge give the student context and a reference point so they can assimilate what they are learning with what they already know. If you combine this with the use of narration, both oral and written, you have a powerful combination that will help your student make what they learn their own.
[dt_sc_h3]Coaching a Skill[/dt_sc_h3]
Have you ever taken art lessons? Have you ever had a writing tutor? Have you ever been on a swim team or learned to play an instrument? Have you ever cooked or baked alongside your mother or grandmother? If so, then you know what it feels like for someone to coach you in a particular skill.
Coaching in anything is about making the internal processes and patterns for doing something known so the student can imitate a more experienced person and the predetermined form. For example, when I coach a student in the skill of writing I first name the form they will follow. If we are writing a persuasive essay, then I share the parts of the persuasive essay and the steps they need to follow to get to the completed product. If I am a good coach, I will also think about “What goes on inside my mind when I do this successfully?” “When I have failed, what were the reasons?” and “How can I communicate that to my student?” Answering these questions, then helps you troubleshoot with your student and they move towards mastery. This can seem daunting, but if you are well versed in a skill, and you have a heart that wants other to understand then you are probably already doing this.
For the homeschooling mom who is not well versed in some skill that a child needs to be coached in, this can be scary. We know our children need to know how to write, calculate, read closely, and the like, but what if we don’t know how to do these things ourselves? Do not fret homeschool mom; this is the value of self-education, community, an excellent tutor, and thoughtful resources. If you don’t have mastery in a skill then you can learn it, buy a resource that helps you by giving you the forms, you can hire a tutor, or some combination of these. Anyone can present knowledge, but only experienced participants can coach, so become one. This is also why I will always be part of a classical homeschooling community. Coaching in skills is where I need the most help, and this is what a good classical homeschool community or class can provide. I feel confident to coach my children in reading and writing skills, but I will not subject my kids to my “coaching” when it comes to higher math. Therefore, I enroll them in online math classes beginning in 9th grade. There are a ton of great options out there, join a homeschool forum, look up Schole Groups, or join the Expanding Wisdom Community and ask what others have found in the way of quality self-education opportunities, classical classes, and classical communities.
[dt_sc_h3]Co-Inquiring into truth[/dt_sc_h3]
Have you ever had a discussion with a friend about a Bible verse and what it meant? Have you even been part of a book discussion and have some realization about the story or life in general? Have you ever had a wrong notion about something and through a conversation saw the truth of it more accurately? If so, then you already co-inquire into truth.
Co-Inquiring is all about seeking truth together in community. Everyone present views themselves as a student and they place the pursuit of truth above proving they are right. The literature discussion and the Socratic dialogue are the best examples of co-inquiring into truth in the academic setting. In the literature discussion, the book and the ideas are topics. Any question goes. The most basic one, ‘Should he have done it? This question will drive you into the heart of the story, give you something to discuss and provide fertile ground for other questions that will give you reasons for and against. Questions like: ‘Who is this character?’ ‘What kind of man/women/creature are they?’, and ‘What are the circumstances?’ The Socratic dialogue, on the other hand, is launched when a misunderstanding is present. The most basic question here is ‘What do you mean by that?’ and ‘Can you tell more about that?’ Beyond the question, an unshakeable commitment to seek understanding and truth is at the center of everything.
In closing, if learning more about these ways of teaching interests you, then visit our How to Teach page here on the blog or check out our course ‘The 5 Elements of Classical Homeschooling.’ In module three of the course, we talk extensively about the three activities of the teacher, their methods of teaching, assessing, and considerations for practice.
Lastly, we are building a pretty cool resource called the Classical Teaching Library, which is filling up with examples of classical teaching from real life and literature.
Where will you begin? Which activity of the teacher will you begin to learn more about first and why? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Expanding wisdom, extending grace,