My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Helping Children Learn

I am including a series of articles which were published in our local newspaper. This is the introduction to the series. These are practical ideas on how parents can help their children learn and do well in school. Hope it helps.

October 2, 1998

Dear Editor,
This paper originally began as a simple response to the recent article in The Springville Herald entitled, “How can we help kids learn?”, by Charla Zeeman. The ideas of counseling parents to share their interests with their children, and to take them on educational outings, are great. I feel concerned that this is about all the advice parents ever hear. There seems to be an attitude among parents, and I believe encouraged by teachers, that parents shouldn’t “interfere” in their child’s education. It is implied that somehow parents will “mess things up”; that only professional teachers are qualified to teach children. I do admit that there are parents that have neither the inclination, nor the patience to teach. I believe, though, that most parents would do almost anything to help their children succeed in school.
Several times I have been asked to tutor a child who was failing in school. Generally, it is near the end of the school year, and the usual methods have failed. By then the child has given up, and believes that he is “too dumb to learn”. My heart just aches for them! I also can’t help feeling a sense of anger at a system that insists on forcing all children into one set mold. The attitude seems to be, “If you can’t learn the way we teach, then there is something wrong with you.” A system that demoralizes children only encourages them to turn to gangs, drugs, and to drop out of school. While people freely admit that children are different, where is this compassion in the school system?
All children can learn when they are taught in the way they learn. I have proved this many times when I have “rescued” a failing child. Usually these are the children I identify as “Active” in my article. The “Communicators” are the next ones at risk. Though I’m aware that meeting a child’s needs is crucial to effective teaching, I am enough of a realist to know that teachers are too overworked to provide this individualized instruction. The only way to save these educationally at risk children is through the involvement of the parents.
Realizing this need, I decided to include in my article some suggestions on how to help each type of student. It soon became evident that even this would not give parents enough information to effectively assist their children. Consequently, I decided to draw on my thirty years of educational experience and research, and expand the ideas for each type. My sincere hope is that this information might assist some parents to help their child learn more effectively, thus saving their child from needless discouragement in school.
It also didn’t take me long to realize that even my abbreviated article would be too long for a newspaper format. I hoped that by expanding each “type” section, they might stand as individual articles. So, knowing that I may be taking an unconventional stand, I submit these articles to your editorial judgment.
With deep concern,

Note: The type I call “Communicator” might be more easily identified by the term “Creative”.