Most homeschool parents would agree that the joy of spending every moment with their child is that they are able to witness their child’s learning experiences, daily, moment-by-moment and can rejoice in every development!
Successful homeschooling is not only measured in how many facts were memorized, or the skills mastered, a story narrated in detail, pages filled with neat handwriting, an emerging reader reading fluently, the brilliant maths wiz kid, talented, great all-rounders.
Success also comes when we work through struggles, difficult transitions, and find the child’s unique learning style and make the connections.
Feedback is vital to this growth and learning.
I’m not promoting gushing praise. I’m talking about specific feedback, detailed observations, carefully worded encouragement.
As a teacher, when I commented on something good I noticed on someone’s page, the whole class perked up. That specific child was boosted, naturally, but it reinforced to all in the class what I was looking for. Those who were on track received vital verbal confirmation. Those lagging in uncertainty were prompted with new direction and specific details. My comment built into the learning experience in many positive ways.
Sometimes, though, in our homeschool days, we don’t give enough feedback. I am guilty of this. I become to task-orientated, too time-conscious. I miss moments that can matter.
Feedback is both verbal and non-verbal. It could be a gentle rub on a neck or shoulder. It may be a kiss on a bent head. It may be that wink and sunny smile. Mostly, it is our well-chosen words:
“What lovely detailed illustrations!”
“My goodness! Seven sums done already …”
“Those are beautiful neat letters …”
You remembered to write title and underline it – great!”
“I see all those scrabble tiles/ maths blocks/ art supplies have been neatly packed away.”
In art, it is good to be specific too:
“Your picture fills the whole page!” (when you want lovely,large pictures.)
“I can see that you really love to red/ blue/ purple today!” (especially when a child goes through a ‘phase’)
“So many tiny details! Boy, you must have looked really carefully …”
“Lovely pencil sketch. How do you think you can add color to this now?” (subtle encouragement to do the background and fill the spaces?)
“Gosh! This is unique! You thought of a completely original way to …” (even of ways you may not have planned?)
Feedback is important for difficulties too!
“Fine, so this all makes sense up to this point, but you are stuck here? Let’s look at what we can do next.”
“Okay, so this is hard. Can we quickly jump on the mini trampoline and count in tens and then come back to see if we can figure that out?”
Rubbing the back, “When you get these words/ sums wrong, you feel mad/ sad?”
“So you don’t know how to start? That is the hard part. Let’s see if we can brainstorm a good title …”
“Don’t worry, we can do this part together …”
“It’s okay to take it slow. Can we work on this for just 5 more minutes and then take a break?”
Homeschooling allows us freedom and flexibility.
Feedback also pushes forward towards completing the task and arriving at the goal. Our comments should acknowledge what is correct up to that moment, while adding what still is required. Encouragement should give an extra incentive to do the job completely and excellently.
Positive feedback can act before there is a need for discipline. It can be confirmation. Everyone prefers to be on track. Most difficulties arise because we did not take note of when the situation was veering off track. A quick, specific word can save the moment and give the person the opportunity to redeem themselves without blame or accusation.
Look for any opportunity to comment on the little moments that build up each child. Give feedback to the struggling child, or the child whose esteem needs building up.
Let me repeat – do not just gush general praise such as;
“Beautiful, Jonny,” or
“Lovely work, Sally.”
Mention what was beautiful or lovely, or why it was lovely.
This gushy kind of praise puffs up. It is like vapour. It vanishes when there is some setback. It makes one child feel proud, but the others feel left out or unnoticed.
Specific feedback is unique to each child in their own learning moment.
May your words confirm each person’s best efforts.
Let your words and actions build up.
Pray that you become mindful of each opportunity to compliment and comment each person you meet.