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 (22 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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Top Ten Wednesday: Best Encourager Blogs 2014

Each week we will be highlighting the Top Ten Bloggers from each category of the 2014 Homeschool Blog Awards. We understand the hard work that is involved in running a successful blog. Kudos to all who were nominated, all who made the top ten, and to our winners!

Homeschool Blog Awards #HSBA2014 Winners! at

This week we are highlighting the 2014 Best Encourager Blogs!

Best Homeschool Group Blog

These are the bloggers out there who lift you up out of the homeschool “blahs” and help you get back on track. The winner of this category didn’t have to be perfect or always in a good mood… just someone who made you feel as if someone else cares and had a positive attitude overall.

Winner 2014 Best Encourager Blog

My Joy-Filled Life was the winner this year!

Top Ten 2014 Encourager Blogs

In no particular order:

Campfires and Cleats

Garden Glimpses

Wildflowers and Marbles

Under Mary’s Mantle

Ben and Me

Future Flying Saucers

Amy At Raising Arrows

Upside Down Homeschooling

Homemaking with Heart


Best Encourager Homeschool Blog @hsbapost



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Sara (69 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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There Will Be A Brief Intermission

It seems like a long time ago that I had little ones and finishing schoolwork for the year was a big deal, because we actually finished. Not only did we finish the schoolwork, but we generally finished it well before our public school counterparts. So yeah, of course we got our party on and went to the beach or to the theme parks early in the season, when we had the place to ourselves. Relatively speaking. I kind of thought we’d reached the end of the season, we could enjoy an extra long break, and we’d start fresh in September.

There Will Be a Brief Intermission: How Homeschooling is like a Hockey Game

As my students got older, the end of the school year has morphed into an ever more nebulous thing. This happens to many homeschoolers because even if we do follow a traditional school calendar, we view them more as guidelines than actual rules. Some of us school year round, or follow some other non-traditional, modified calendar. Honestly, I don’t like taking really long breaks because we tend to lose momentum and focus, and even run the risk of forgetting some of what we thought we’d learned. By the time we’d been homeschooling for just a few years, I realized that the so-called end of the school year might actually be more like half-time or intermission during the game. We’re headed off the field for a little while, but we’ll be back soon so we need to keep our heads in the game.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a breather, but I think it’s important to know just how long the break is going to be. Think about sports. In a hockey game, the break between periods is twenty minutes – time to clean the ice; time for the players to re-hydrate and rest a little; time for the teams to rehearse their strategy and have a pep talk in the dressing room. They look at what they are doing well, so they can keep up the good work; and they address where they can do better. If they are leading the game at intermission, they might congratulate themselves on being able to head into the final period with a lead, but I guarantee they are not celebrating the win just yet. If you followed the NBA or NHL playoffs recently, you probably noticed that it’s a long road for the team to win that championship. After working hard through the regular season, they had to keep on working to win each playoff series. I was watching the hockey games myself, and I can tell you that the teams celebrated each goal they scored and each game they won. But the Stanley Cup is a best of seven series, so after each game – win or lose – they very soon turn their attention to what they need to do to win the next game. The big celebration doesn’t come until they’ve won the fourth game in the series.


Likewise, we can hug and pat each other on the back when we score our goals; rest and refresh during our intermissions; and congratulate each other at the end of each game; but realize that the celebration and the break is to help us stay motivated and prepared for the long series we are playing. And then we’ll have that huge party for high school graduation!

Hockey Hall of Fame


So now that I’ve finished final grades for my kids (despite the fact that the true final assignment for a couple of their subjects won’t be completed until sometime during the summer), I can think about how long our intermission will be. Or how many days until our next playoff game, if you like that analogy better.

We haven’t done big end-of-school celebrations for several years, and I started to feel bad about that. But as I thought about celebrating each goal we score, and each win that gets us closer to the championship of graduation, I figured we could throw ourselves a few small parties when we reach milestones. My kids do have a couple of special trips planned during the next couple of weeks, so those are breaks from the regular routine of school and work. We’re talking about how we can celebrate closing the books on the courses they have finished, and what we’ll do to celebrate as they tie up the loose ends on the remaining work.  Some easy ideas we’ve come up with so far:

  • Ice cream!
  • A drive-in movie
  • Mini-golf
  • A day at the lake
  • Pool party
  • Family movie night
  • Bonfire

The end of a school year may not come all at once, and I think rejoicing in several small milestones along the way can be just as rewarding as one huge party – perhaps even more so! I won’t be surprised if the small but meaningful rewards awaiting a completed textbook or final paper provide a little bit of motivation for that final push; and allow the momentum to build. After all, we’re just a couple of wins away from the championship!




Kym (5 Posts)

Kym is in the middle of her 17th year of homeschooling her four kids, two of whom have graduated. She and her husband of 27 years are Canadians transplanted to Maryland. Kym loves coffee, history, and homeschooling, and you can join her for coffee break at her blog, Homeschool Coffee Break.

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