Do We Get In the Way?

The last week of May I was blessed to attend LER’s Spring Awakening 2015. It was a morning spent as a student of the Truth Beauty Goodness community in Minnesota. It was a one day event that I drove many miles to attend. It was worth it. This post is my attempt to share something I learned that is paramount to educating.

As teachers, we must not get in the way of the student learning.

Do We Get in the Way? Allowing our Children to Learn Authentically

It’s tough, I know, for mothers and fathers who homeschool, as well as parents who choose public school. We all want what is best for our children. Even teachers in traditional school settings really want what’s best for the students. It really starts with how we perceive children.

Children are born persons. {Principle #1}

Of course- we think- they are little human beings with the same physical makings as adults, only smaller. But they are not miniature adults. Nor are they the genetic code that decides if they have red curly hair or straight black hair. Or that suggests a child will have a particular temperament.


They are more than miniatures of their parents and inherited traits. They are persons in their own right.

The child’s mind is not a blank slate or vessel to be filled. It is a living thing, relying on knowledge to grow. {Principle #9}

The mind feeds and grows on ideas; it grows like the body grows through nourishment. The mind does not require training to learn, much as healthy lungs do not require external assistance to breathe in and out.

children learn

It is not our business to teach him all about anything, but to help him to make valid the ideas he holds as they match the experiences he encounters. {Principle #12}

They are capable of making their own connections with knowledge and experiences. They have ‘hooks’, as do we all, with which to hang ideas and notions based on past experiences and knowledge. When they encounter new situations or information, they take down the ideas from the hooks and analyze the new situation through them.

But they can be influenced. This is where it is important to not get in the way and make it more about us than them. If we believe them to be persons, capable of learning, we will be sure to not crush this. Here are some ways that we can get in the way.

  • Fear/love– Children trust and love their parents and teachers. It might be more obvious why we should not use fear to motivate our children to learn but love can be just as dangerous in this situation. When we push children to learn because of their love for us they do not learn for themselves. They can languish if there is not someone to learn for; if there is not someone to smile upon them when they do as they should. They become merely what those who love them wish them to be, or what the student thinks the teacher wishes them to be. Their personality is squashed and they live for the smiles, or languish at the averted eyes.
  • Suggestion/influence– I believe these are the two most often used tactics in public schools today. Educators hold the philosophy that the teacher is superior and an expert; the student cannot possibly know what to do without suggestion or influence. However, by using suggestion or influence, the student comes to depend on that for their every task. I have been quite guilty of both suggestion and influence. There have been times that, due to my previous overly suggestive or influential actions or comments, that my child could not make a decision or think clearly about a concept without suggestions or influence from me. This does not help the child, it hinders.
  • Emotions/desires– This is the tactic of enticing the child to achieve a grade or a status based on their learning. It could get them into a special group or allow them special privilege to do or not do a particular task. It is tied with ‘learning’ but it can be dangerous as well. This tactic can and often does produce children that are more concerned with attaining that reward, having that status, than to know. When they are presented with the opportunity to learn for the sake of learning, they will pass it by if there is no emotion or desire fulfilled.

Each of the above mentioned tactics to get the child to learn are actually hinderances because they present something other than actual learning as the goal.

Are there ways that you feel teachers, and by that I mean parents, get in the way of learning for their children? How do you think we can step back and help instead?



North Laurel (25 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel Home & School.

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Homeschool Resolution Time – Or Is It?



New Year’s Eve is “amateur night”.

After all the partying, the alcohol, and the gluttony of Thanksgiving and Christmas….who could possibly have any enthusiasm for celebrating New Year’s Eve?


These are the juveniles that either can’t handle their alcohol OR who stand in Times Square all night when it’s 10 degrees WITHOUT any alcohol!

Now who wants to hang out with these people? Definitely not my wife and I. We stay in – and have for many years now. When we had a TV I would DVR the footage of the Times Square ball drop and watch it, unceremoniously, a month or so later.

But this year was going to be different.

We were in Vienna, Austria! Staying at the Ritz Carlton!

This year our hopes were up for a very different experience.

We rested up in the afternoon and walked to the public square by Saint Stephen’s Cathedral around 10pm. It was jam-packed with people. There was an opera playing on the stage, stalls selling “bier” and mulled wine, occasional fireworks igniting underfoot, etc.

But then the stage was taken over by the worst, 80s cruise ship band we ever heard around 11pm. I mean it was really bad and hard to believe that was what Vienna’s budget could afford on the grand stage for all those people. But the Austrians (laced with “bier”?) were digging it – high-fiving and hugging each other, dancing, hooting and hollering, etc.

We could only last until 11:20pm before heading back to the hotel. We tried. We really did but our hopes were dashed and old prejudices confirmed yet again.


There’s apparently no translation to German!

My wife and I both feel the same way about New Year’s Resolutions. They represent “amateur hour” for people who don’t have any well-defined goals and ambitions. I mean, honestly, for 95% of people, if not more, they are a joke. The fact that people only stop to articulate goals once per year….and then unapologetically break them within weeks is pathetic.

Homeschooling Goals

So what does this have to do with homeschooling?


As home educators we are striving to do the very opposite of “school”. We want to unlock the full potential of our children, in every possible way.

So we are looking for the ultimate, proven formulas for success and achievement.

Where might they be found?

Well I submit they are in the “self-help” and “personal coaching” industries. They can be found reading Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Steve Chandler, Brendan Burchard, Tim Ferriss, et al.

These are the superstars that are so good at motivating others and generating results, that they can command millions of dollars from the most successful people on the planet.

And guess what…

Every single one of these gurus has their clients articulating and working relentlessly toward clear GOALS….365 days a year.

You know how disparagingly we, as homeschool parents, look at “school parents” who are excited when their kids read a single unassigned book or when they take their kids to 2 museums per year?

Well that’s probably on par with how the self-help gurus see the masses out there with their once-per-year, soon-to-be-broken New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s great to have fun craft ideas, quality workbooks, and great reading lists mined from the cornucopia of homeschooling resources out there…

But if they aren’t scheduled or hemmed in by a deadline….they just might never get done!

And beyond a short term checklist, if you truly want to unlock your kids’ full potential, I would encourage you to work with and toward intermediate and longer term goals.

In other words, not just “an hour of math per day” but also “6th grade Khan Academy math done by March 1st”. Not just “I want to someday publish a children’s book on Amazon” but rather “I’m going to publish my book on June 1st”. Et cetera.

Yes, I know. Goals can change. Life’s distractions abound.

But I promise you, many magical things will happen once you start incorporating goals into your life and into your homeschool on a permanent year-round basis.


Dan (13 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at

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Socialization Starts at Home

Every once in a while that old question about socialization comes up:  How will your kids learn how to get along with others if they don’t go to school?

Because we all know that siblings come from the womb full of love and eternal patience for one another.  They never argue.  Never glare at one another.  Never annoy each other in any way.  We’re all just one happy family who are never challenged by each other.

{wink}Socialization Starts at Home @The Homeschool Post




  1. a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
  2. the act or process of making socialistic: the socialization of industry.

I think when most people talk about socialization, they are referring to the 1st definition.

Learning how to get along with other people is a part of being human.   It’s a part of learning to be a productive member of society, allowing  us to work, live, play, and have a fulfilling life.

Now, when I was in school, I did have to learn how to deal with other people.  Sometimes it was a matter of self-preservation.  It would have been impossible to avoid the society of others in a building with hundreds of other people.

But my children are also continually learning how to get along with other people.

It happens when the 14-year-old decides to avert his eyes while the 5-year-old attacks her PB&J in her preferred manner (from the top-down and inside-out) instead of sneering at her.

It happens when she decides to eat it the way that’s been modeled for her by her family.

It happens when the 10-year-old gently directs her younger siblings to knock on the door before bursting into her room when she’s changing, instead of screaming bloody murder.

It happens when the next time they actually do knock on the door.

Kids who live together, play together, and learn together also have daily practice in:

  • respecting the differences of others
  • respecting the privacy and personal space of others
  • conflict resolution
  • the consequences of conflict escalation (ahem)
  • compromise
  • repentance and asking for forgiveness.

I’m not saying that children who attend school don’t have the same opportunities, as they surely do.

But the stakes are higher at home.

Your family is a part of you.  Those knuckleheads at the local school may have a lasting impact on your child’s development, but I’ll tell you something—I’m in contact with exactly one person I went to elementary school with and a couple of people I knew in high school  and college (and only in the form of occasional FB comments).  I can choose not to deal with those people if I want.

But family relationships that don’t work out can leave a gaping wound in a person.  It may seem like you can get away right now, but eventually you may want to come back.

Family life is hard.

Extending grace to those who haven’t caught up to you developmentally stretches you.  In a way, homeschooled kids can be naive if they haven’t had to deal with some of the social ugliness that can happen at school…but in other ways, they can be more mature in their ability to accept other kids of different ages.

I won’t lie to you—sometimes they don’t get along at home.

It’s been a bit hairy at our house lately with the teenaged hormones flying around.  The heat and other stressors also come into play.  But in the real world, people sometimes have difficulty getting along.  This is another opportunity to learn.  As difficult as it is to see my kids fighting with each other, I know that we’re on the right track whenever I see them interacting with other people.

The other night we visited with some friends.  Six kids altogether and only four adults.  Yes, we were outnumbered.

But all the kids (ages 5 to 14) played together without incident for over 2 hours while the adults hung out and talked.  This wasn’t a case of the bigs watching the littles, but people being actively engaged with one another and enjoying one another’s company.  The only tiff happened at the very end when everyone was tired and we were getting ready to leave (and it was between two of my kids).

I see daily evidence of my children finding their place in the world.

I see it when they interact with other kids at the pool or park.

When they talk to the lady at the post office.

When they ask the librarian for help locating a book.

I see it when my oldest child leads his fellow Boy Scouts.

My kids are growing up in a safe home environment, not sheltered from dealing with the rest of the world, but supported in their growth.

How do you respond to questions about socialization?


Susan Anadale (6 Posts)

Susan is a wife, a mother, a Catholic, a teacher, a writer, a philosopher, a seamstress, a maker of things, an imaginer of worlds...I blog about our lifelong journey through learning at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds (my brain on the web).

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