December 11, 2013

Using Educational Materials without letting them use You.

I received this question via email.  I'm very happy to hear that another family has chosen to avoid school in favor of healthy education and is looking for ways to enrich a natural and intellectually healthy experience for their child.  

The nature of the question begs a response that in my opinion,  provides a great example of blending the concept of flexible, natural learning with Trivium principles and how the two ideologies compliment each other.  I am publishing parts of the question and my response here so that the concept can encourage others in similar matters of home-based learning along the Curve.

(snipped in parts for brevity and protection of privacy)

I have a question about what do you think is the best method of teaching phonics?  

I have been in a email conversation with Gene Odenening.  I asked him the same question.  (Gene referred to the following programs)

1. Tatras

2. Spalding

3. Explode the Code

Have you heard of any these methods?  Do you concur with what Gene says?

Response:(with minor alterations for general public application)

I usually concur with Gene Odening on these matters, and I do believe that a phonetic foundation is important to establishing good language thus communication skills.  That said, I do not have experience with the first two suggestions, but I have used Explode the Code personally.  One of my children responded well to it, the other two did not.  They were not stimulated by the presentation and therefore it was not useful for them.  I've also used remedial programs such as Hooked on Phonics and miscellaneous materials from various publishers. 

Please remember that the specific "brand" is far less important.  Keep the goal in mind and you'll find that you can get there with any program as long as you are paying attention to your child's cues and the way they are responding to the exercises.  If your child is bored, frustrated, becoming agitated - it's a sign that whatever you are doing is not working.  The child should be engaged, challenged (but not frustrated) and interested.   Learning becomes a dreadful chore very quickly if we force a particular brand without considering the child's response.

This is not to say however that we should go to the other extreme of neglecting to foster healthy education.  There is an important balance to be sought, met and exercised.  The point at which that balance is found changes, alters and moves along with the natural flow of human development; hence "The Curve".

Again - it is very important to develop good phonetic foundation, but there are a variety of ways in which to accomplish this and a variety of materials to help.  Use the program, materials, books that ignite your child and work well for him/her.  Do not rely on the program to teach the skill.  YOU will be teaching the skill, the program merely helps with organization and presentation; so with attention and creativity, you can help your child develop skills with any program at all.   Try whichever one strikes you, or that you think your child will respond well to, and remain flexible enough to change programs or alter or Curve your approach according to your child's cues.

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