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Personality Matters In Homeschooling

Aug 17, 2007
Regardless of your personality as a paretn, you can homeschool and succeed with it. Homeschooling your childis a journey of a lifetime and many parents have the right authoritative personality to do it well. If you don't, you can learn some of the skills and still apply them to successful homeschooling, especially in teaching your child.

Do you know someone, perhaps a friend or neighbor, who seems to live life as a full-time explorer, always trying new activities, taking classes, traveling, cooking up exotic recipes with ingredients you've never even heard of? I do. I think of him as a person who has never lost the love of learning...who never tires of taking on new challenges. (Yes, he's more of a starter than a finisher, but I think that's what keeps the kick in his step.)

It's certainly not an ideal lifestyle for everyone. In fact, many of us would probably welcome a day or two with a few less challenges to overcome, especially if you have a young child at home! On the other hand, consider those characteristics described above not as an adult's approach to life, but as a child's approach to learning. Isn't that joy of discovery exactly what we want to encourage; to start our children on a lifelong journey of exploring and facing challenges?

Numerous research studies have examined the influence of parents and the family on children's willingness to explore and take risks. When young children experience close, trusting relationships, that security encourages them to try out new behaviors, to risk faltering or even failing. Researchers are now investigating the possibility that these feelings carry over into young adulthood and similarly encourage or inhibit risk-taking in education and job choices.

Parenting style also have been shown to have a significant influence on children's feelings of self-confidence and personal responsibility. Researchers have identified four types of parenting styles:
1. authoritarian - very demanding but not responsive 2. indulgent - very responsive but not demanding
3. authoritative - both demanding and responsive
4. uninvolved - neither demanding nor responsive

Studies show that the authoritative style - which balances high expectations with recognition of children's autonomy - is associated with self-confidence, persistence, academic success, and social competence. Authoritative parents provide guidance and support for education and development of personal interests, set expectation standards, and encourage responsible independence - a style that results in children's broader and more active exploration of career choices later in life.

While an authoritarian parenting style is often associated with success in school, the pressure to live up to their parents' expectations can eventually produce emotionally unhealthy children. Conversely, indulgent and uninvolved parental styles - marked by a lack of guidance or encouragement - are likely to lead to children who have few well developed personal interests and find it difficult to identify a personally satisfying area of study.

So what can you do to adopt more of an authoritative style and encourage your child to explore, discover, and learn? Here are some tips on how to help your child begin the journey of a lifetime.

Tell your child stories about your work. Discuss the importance of finding work that is personally rewarding. For younger children, choose a colorful example of your job and describe it in concrete terms. Turn events into simple plotlines, focusing on the "characters" and different ways to handle problems. Is there a bad guy/girl? How about a hero? Help your child understand why you think so.
Read with your child and keep good literature in your home. Great stories teach and inspire, and your child's questions and comments about the stories provide opportunities to share thoughts, beliefs, and concerns about values and behavior.

Encourage learning, taking on challenges, and developing new skills. Give your child opportunities to recognize natural talents, explore interests, and identify academic strengths and weaknesses. Follow up by suggesting related activities and finding additional information together.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is an educational expert and consultant in northern California. For her latest book and information see Homeschooling Easy.
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