Independence Starts at Home

By Cory Hanson

Teach-Ind

As parents, we lay the foundation for the way our child thinks, behaves, and navigates the world around them, especially at school. Here’s what I’ve tried to do with my lovely demon (I’m mostly kidding…) as well as the kids that have come through my classroom.

We need to develop a sense of independence and empowerment in our children. While it is easiest to mold young minds, it is never too late to build the foundation for learning! Academics are important, but kids need to learn how to be people, how to be productive, how to be happy and how to make it for themselves in this world. Kids growing up with a disability need to be prepared for a life that cuts them no favors and often sees their disability as a reason to not give them an opportunity.

How can we do better?

Two children bent over a paper writing

Shift mindsets. Your kids need compassion, accountability, and access to resources. Most importantly, they need you to be present and interested. I don’t expect you to be able to actually do the math or (insert any subject here) at home, rather, I need you to ask your child every day “What did you work on in ____ class today?” and not only expect, but wait for a real answer. When was the last time your child did something other than “oh, nothing” at school?

Bring the conversation to the dinner table by having them try to explain something they learned or show off something they worked on. Be genuinely excited for your child and show interest in their learning and I promise these conversations will get easier.

Are you looking for some ways to support school work at home? Here are a few ideas to use this year:

  1. Rewrite notes and summarize them
  2. Help your child make corrections to incorrect problems
  3. Post a problem to social media and compare work with friends
  4. Ask your child to “Be the Teacher” have them teach someone in the home a topic
  5. Record a video explaining a topic
  6. The list is endless, contact me for more ideas if you need them!

Once these small tasks becomes routine, the avoidance of studying and the homework battles will cease to exist.

Don’t be afraid to connect with the classroom and teacher.

Send emails to your child’s teacher letting them know what you’ve been working on or ask for their professional opinion of what your child can do to improve at home. Contact the teacher regularly, not just at conferences and report card time. Connect with the classroom using digital tools (such as Class Dojo or Seesaw). If the teacher isn’t using these tools, encourage them to start using them. Show an interest in being connected to the families and school community. Build a relationship with the teacher.

Familiarize yourself with resources such as Youtube (it’s more than just cat videos) and Khan Academy. This can all be done without the burden of extra costs from a tutor, high stress homework situations at home, and ultimately a tattered relationship with your child and the school. With these simple tools and habits you can empower your children to be self-sustaining and achieve the goal of becoming more independent and successful as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

Have other ideas? Please leave them in the comments below.

Please see Part One and Part Three of this series on education.


The author is a father, Milwaukee Public School graduate, and educator within the public school system. He is an advocate of Tech in the Classroom and finding innovative ways to reach today’s youth.


 

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