Category Archives: Homeschooling

Leap of Faith: A Homeschooling Story

With summer officially over now, or mostly anyway, it’s beginning to feel like it’s time to get back to work. Not that this summer wasn’t a busy one — it definitely was. In spite of this, I was able to squeeze in some time to stretch my creative boundaries and explore a bit, so I wanted to share the results with you as I ease back into a more normal writing schedule.

Specifically, I wanted to share a digital story I made (don’t worry, it’s short!) about how we came to be a homeschooling family. I hope you enjoy it and, just maybe, will be inspired to share your story, too!

 

 

 

 

Lori Dunlap worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and then at a large research university as a program director, admissions committee member, and adjunct faculty.  She has homeschooled her two boys since 2011, and recently published her first book, “From Home Education to Higher Education”, published by GHF Press in 2017. You can connect with Lori and find more information about college admissions for homeschoolers at: www.uncommonapplicant.com

Learn Better — A Book Review

The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.

~ Brian Herbert

 

Dappled light, chattering squirrels, and the softest of breezes wandering through the branches of the surrounding trees – this is summertime in my backyard. The fragrance of sweet alyssum spilling out of the flower pots in the corner of the deck mixed with the perfume of the geranium bushes mounting from the yard down below is so thick as to be almost distracting. As I pause to take it all in, I reflect on the idea that the book I am holding isn’t my typical summer reading choice (I usually go for a good mystery or historical fiction), but it’s the perfect selection for this summer.

Much like the scent of the flowers in my garden, change hangs thickly in the air for my family this year. My youngest is preparing to head off to boarding school for ninth grade, and my oldest has registered for a full course load at the local community college for his final year of high school before he departs for an as-yet-unknown university next year. Our eight years of homeschooling are winding down, and I am eager to add any last-minute tools I can to my boys’ “tool boxes” before sending them off into the world. So, this summer I have been reading the book Learn Better by Ulrich Boser, which I first heard about on a podcast a few weeks ago, in hopes that I will pick up some ideas my boys can use in the next stages of their education.

Within the first few pages I find myself wishing I had found this information years ago – it would have helped immensely in deciding what to look for and what to prioritize as I selected or developed learning materials and classes. It also would have helped me be more effective as a teacher (when the boys were younger) and learning facilitator (as the boys grew older). It’s not too late, though, and Learn Better is also full of information and ideas I can apply to my own learning, too, including changing some of the self-taught approaches that just aren’t efficient (time to ditch the highlighters!). It turns out, educational researchers have discovered that there are better and more efficient ways to learn than the methods many of us use, but most of us, including professional teachers, just don’t know about them. Well, until now that is…

Boser’s book is constructed around six chapters, each delving deeply into the research around one key aspect of learning. What could be a dry recitation of psychology, neuroscience, and research findings, though, definitely is not – he applies every idea to his own learning journey and shares stories of others’ struggles and experiences, too. Even for the non-scientist, this book is entirely accessible and packed with ideas any of us can use. Here are a couple of examples that I think are particularly applicable to homeschoolers:

 

Value

Learning is hard. And something many of us know intuitively is that it’s difficult to invest energy into doing hard things, like learning something new, if we don’t know why we are learning it, if there doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to learn it. On the other hand, if a subject has clear personal meaning, relevance, or usefulness, we are generally much more motivated to put in the effort because we see value in it. In addition, if we also have the expectation that we can be successful in achieving our goals, our motivation to learn becomes even stronger.

So, as parents, what can we do with this information? If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why isn’t my child interested in doing their school work?” or “What can I do to motivate my child to learn new things?”, think about how much autonomy they have over their work and work schedule, or how much freedom they have to customize their work based on their personal interests. Can you give them more opportunities to direct their own learning by designing their own projects or making other choices on their own? It can be scary to loosen the reins, especially for those of us who grew up in traditional, highly-structured educational settings, but as Boser says, “We often need space to find value, and a wealth of research supports the idea of giving students control over how they learn a subject.”

Target

Understanding how to break learning down into discrete steps and ensuring that each individual student is learning exactly what they need to learn at each point along the way (regardless of age or grade in school) is a key aspect of learning. For younger learners this usually means learning basic facts that will form a foundation of knowledge that they can build on as they grow and progress, like developing reading skills and memorizing math facts. Once they have established this foundational knowledge and committed it to long term memory, they will be ready to connect new, more sophisticated learning and skills to this existing knowledge. In other words, targeting the appropriate learning at the appropriate time is key so new knowledge that is “at a level slightly beyond their skills” is connected to existing knowledge.

As parents, it’s helpful to envision memory and expertise not as a linear model, but as a “sprawling network, a system of hubs and links” that expand and strengthen with use. So how can we help our kids build expertise? Here are a few tips:

  1. Ask them to write down or talk about what they already know about a subject before they begin learning something new (this primes their memory and highlights knowledge gaps).
  2. Help them learn how to do their own regular, low-stakes assessments like self-quizzing or explaining new ideas out loud to themselves or someone else.
  3. Coach them to ask themselves “why” and “how” questions like, “Why is this information important?” and “How does this connect to what I learned earlier?”

 

While the ideas shared in Learn Better are highly relevant and useful for any type of student, this book is not just for those who may struggle with learning. Even for those who are academically strong, who already have a capacity for learning, developing the skills necessary to optimize their ability to learn is important. And yet, this is rarely something teachers and parents focus on. Add to that the notion that willingness to learn is also a key (but often unacknowledged) component of learning, and we see that our self-developed approaches to learning are frequently missing critical elements. Teaching our children to “learn how to learn” is a gift that those of us who are actively involved in our children’s education can give them. And if we start early enough, maybe they won’t have to undo a lifetime of bad highlighting habits down the road!

 

Lori Dunlap worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and then at a large research university as a program director, admissions committee member, and adjunct faculty.  She has homeschooled her two boys since 2011, and recently published her first book, “From Home Education to Higher Education”, published by GHF Press in 2017. You can connect with Lori and find more information about college admissions for homeschoolers at: www.uncommonapplicant.com

 

If you like this post, and would like to see what other homeschooling parents are reading this summer, click on the image below:

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Important Skill?

The Most Important Skill_I’ve been feeling terrible these past few weeks – antsy, unfocused, unmotivated. Almost nothing I planned to work on has been touched, let alone finished – no writing, no reading any of the books in my stack, no house organization projects. Mostly I’ve chalked it up to the busyness that came with the end of the school year — final projects, graduation ceremonies, performances – quickly followed by planning for summer camps, holidays, and vacations. And while it’s true that the family schedule has been more packed than usual, it’s not enough to explain this level of agitation I’ve been feeling.

Plus, if I’m totally honest, as I look back over the past few weeks, I’ve had plenty of time to spend on non-productive things like browsing the summer clearance sales on my favorite shopping sites and re-watching movies I only sort of enjoyed the first time, not to mention the many hours spent falling down multiple online rabbit holes. Clearly the cause of this restlessness has been more than just being too busy, and now it has also become a vicious cycle – the ignored to-do list has lead to more anxiety and agitation, which has lead to more distraction and avoidance, and so the list keeps growing…

Enough! But what to do?

This morning I made a commitment to myself that I would only spend one hour clearing out my email while I drank my coffee, and then I would get off the computer and force myself to do some house-related projects. Maybe I just need some momentum, some physical activity. Fortunately for me, however, by some miracle one of the things in my email was this article by Zat Rana, “The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You”, which I think provided the insight I need to break out of this cycle.

What’s the skill?

It’s solitude. Or more precisely, sitting in silence, without distraction because, “That’s when you’ll hear yourself think, and that’s when you’ll learn to engage the parts of you that are masked by distraction.”

Of course.

It’s so frustrating to have to be reminded of something I used to know. I’ve had an on-and-off meditation practice for several years now, and it’s no coincidence that I’m currently in an “off” phase and have been for quite a while. Why is it so easy to get knocked off a path that we know is good for us? To lose healthy habits? I don’t know the answer, but I know for me that compulsive thinking – checking email, managing family logistics, looking for the next problem to solve – is addictive, even though I realize that giving into my monkey mind makes me feel anxious and exhausted.

So, here’s my plan. For the next six weeks I’ll be throttling back on everything I had planned to do, deferring everything but the most essential tasks until September. I’m going to spend more time reading, meditating, creating, and pondering the clouds and trees. It’s time to reconnect with the things that are most important, to sit quietly and let my mind settle. If I stumble across anything important I may write about it and share it here, but it’s also possible that it may be a few weeks before I sit down at the keyboard again. I just don’t know what the next few weeks hold… but I’m already feeling better!

 

 

What Does it Mean to be a Homeschooler?

When I first created the “Teach Your Own” site, my intention was that it would be a source of information and inspiration for other homeschooling families like mine – those who were looking for ideas and insights to help them along the uncommon, sometimes-bumpy, homeschooling path. For the first few years, that is exactly what it was, and I loved sharing my experiences and “wins” while learning about the journeys of other families, too. As my two boys grew into teenagers, though, and as the homeschooling adventure became more predictable and less dependent on me to direct it, I found that thinking and writing about homeschooling, especially the daily and more detailed aspects of it, became less of a priority.

Over time, my focus has shifted from the short-term, tactical considerations of homeschooling, to the more long-term, strategic planning necessary to help my older son prepare for college. New projects have begun to take more of my time and attention, including researching and writing a book about college admissions for homeschoolers and creating a new “virtual college fair” to support non-traditional students planning to apply to college. Both have become true passion projects for me and have given me the opportunity to connect with homeschooling families in a whole new way.

Which is why this past winter I began to think about closing this site.

The issue is not just one of time limitations, but also the realization that I feel less like a homeschooling parent than I used to. As a junior in high school, my older son is managing his education independently now, taking his core classes at the local community college and pursuing his personal interests through online elective courses and local extracurricular activities. My younger son, who discovered a passion for musical theater several years ago, auditioned and was accepted into a boarding performing arts high school, which he will begin attending this fall. In short, with both of my boys taking the reigns of their education now, my days of choosing curriculum, planning projects, and scheduling field trips has come to an end.

So, am I a homeschooling parent anymore? What does it mean to be a homeschooler, anyway?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time grappling with these questions recently. Homeschooling has been more than just an educational choice – it’s been a lifestyle choice, too, with “school” and “life” often blending seamlessly. (I know this is true for other families, too – how often have we laughed at stories about struggling to answer the store clerk’s question about what grade our kids are in? Or what classes they’re taking at school?) Even though the “schooling” part of the homeschooling equation has changed, the “home” part, including the strong family bonds we have woven over years of shared time and experiences, is still very much intact.

As I reflect on these aspects of our journey thus far, it strikes me that homeschooling is really more of a mindset than anything else, one deeply rooted in the core values of family connection, commitment to personal and intellectual growth, and respect for individual choices. Regardless of how a family chooses to formally educate their children, if they are embracing opportunities for their children to explore and pursue their own interests, fostering a love of learning and a sense of independence and ownership in their education, and cultivating curiosity and creativity, might they not be considered members of the homeschooling community, too? Homeschooling is already a rather large umbrella, encompassing all types of approaches to learning and growth, so maybe it’s useful to stretch its boundaries slightly further to include a few more.

With this perspective, I have decided to maintain my “membership” in the homeschooling community as I continue to advise and guide my boys’ education, albeit at more of a distance than before. And I have also decided that I will continue to keep “Teach Your Own” running, but with a slightly different focus. Now it will be more of a “transition travelogue”, sharing our successes and struggles as my boys evolve from self-directed learners at home, to young adults venturing out into the world with a new level of independence and merging into more mainstream pursuits. What has their non-traditional educational background provided that will serve them well? What other tools do they still need to add to their travel kit? I’ll let you know.

So, I’ll be spending more time around here in the coming weeks and months with stories of adventure and insight. I hope you will stop by from time to time when you have a moment. Better yet, pour a cup of tea, pull up to the table, and share your stories of transitions and change, too. It’s always nice to know we are not alone in our journeys, lonely as they may seem sometimes. And, with any luck, maybe we can help each other prepare for some of the inevitable potholes and detours along the way, too.

 

Lori Dunlap worked for almost twenty years in the corporate world, first as a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies, and then at a large research university as a program director, admissions committee member, and adjunct faculty.  She has homeschooled her two boys since 2011, and recently published her first book, “From Home Education to Higher Education”, published by GHF Press in 2017. You can connect with Lori and find more information about college admissions for homeschoolers at: www.uncommonapplicant.com

The Uncommon Applicant Has Launched!

It’s official! Our sister site, The Uncommon Applicant has launched as of today, and we’re celebrating with our first quarterly newsletter. Our first issue will introduce you to a member of our college coaching team, and highlight some great words of wisdom and special offers from our partners. Please feel free to share with other homeschoolers and non-traditional students, and join our Uncommon Community!

 

Fall 2017 Newsletter

 

 

 

 

Happiest Homeschooling Moments: A Reflection

Like many other students around the country, my youngest son will start school in a few weeks – not homeschool, actual school, the kind with teachers and whiteboards, and a gym that smells like a clingy mix of sweaty bodies and floor polish. And his first day of school, just over three short weeks from now, will be the first time he’s stepped foot into a classroom as an enrolled student since the middle of his 1st grade year, almost seven years ago.

Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this.

Mostly I’m excited for him because this is his choice, one of the first significant decisions he’s made for himself. My husband and I have always told the boys that homeschooling was a choice, and they could make a different choice at any time, but I don’t think either of us really believed they would. My oldest son plans to continue homeschooling through high school, so for my younger son to choose a different option is a big deal. We both support and understand his choice, though, because he’ll be going to a great school, one where the teachers and staff are incredibly warm and accepting, who will be able to challenge him academically while teaching him ways to manage through some of the difficulties he faces with dyslexia. It’s a good choice and a good plan.

But it’s not all sunshine and lollipops.

Amidst the happiness, I’m also feeling quite nostalgic. Homeschooling has allowed our family to spend lots of time together and develop incredibly close bonds with each other, and now an important chapter in our family’s story is coming to an end. And so, even as we prepare for this move forward and the next chapter, I keep finding myself looking back, reviewing the past seven years and examining each of the memorable moments as I would a treasured, precious object, one that I haven’t taken off the shelf to fully appreciate in a while.

A patchy assortment of happy memories spring to mind, of course. We’ve laughed a lot, at each other and ourselves, while exploring countless parks and hiking trails, or creating gooey clay sculptures and muddy paintings. We’ve read and critiqued a ton of amazing books together, and puzzled over numerous math problems. For years, these are the moments that have provided the context for our daily family life and formed the foundation of our relationships as the boys have grown and matured. But none of these first memories to surface are the happiest moments, I realize. Instead, the moments I’ll remember most years from now, that I’ll continue to treasure even when both of my sons are grown and have families of their own, are some of the quieter, unplanned ones that didn’t actually involve laughing or diving into a messy project together, or even being together at all.

For me, the moments when I’ve felt the happiest are the times when I’ve caught a glimpse of the men both of my boys are becoming.

These are the times that have had almost nothing to do with me and any “fantastic” homeschooling plans I’ve come up with, and instead have been entirely about my kids taking the reins on their own learning and making choices that excite them because they’re connected to their interests and bigger goals. The moments are hard to describe exactly, because they’re often fleeting, and almost always unexpected, like when my oldest son disappeared for hours, and later casually showed me a 3-D human figure he’d been modeling and “rigging” (so it can walk and move like a real human) in a software program I’d never heard of and didn’t know he knew how to use, aided by detailed diagrams of human anatomy that he found; or when it dawned on me, as he showed me a spreadsheet to ask a question about modifying formulas, that he had been teaching himself calculus (though he didn’t realize that’s what it was) so he could calculate the trajectory of a spaceship he was designing and wanted to launch in a space simulation program; or when I read a poem my younger son wrote spontaneously because he just read some Rumi poetry and was inspired. There are countless other examples, and I can’t come close to taking credit for any of them — none were part of any of my plans, and I’m certain that if they had been, they would have failed spectacularly. The only credit I can take is that I’ve learned a very important lesson quite well on this homeschooling journey:  almost always, the best thing I can do is get out of the way.

I resisted this lesson in the early years — I thought that “real” learning could only happen in an environment characterized by academic discipline, supported by the structure of rules and routines, even though strong evidence to the contrary was right in front of me every single day. The intricate stories and artwork they created, and the earnest questions they asked about the world around them, didn’t count (in my mind) as “real” learning.  I cringe now when I think back on those days. The boys were learning every moment of every day, I just didn’t see it, or appreciate it. I wish I could go back and burn each and every one of the daily plans and assignments I created, along with the stacks of textbooks and workbooks I spent countless hours researching and then purchasing. I wish I could go back and tell myself to just trust — trust that nature had already deeply embedded the love of learning in my children, and that all I really needed to do was water it, and maybe pull some weeds from time to time.

This is why it makes me sad when I hear other homeschooling parents ask questions like, “How do I make my lazy son do his school work?” or “How do I deal with my daughter’s defiance when she won’t do what I tell her?”  These parents have missed a beautiful opportunity to create some wonderful and happy memories. They have forgotten that they are raising future adults who need to have the experiences (including making mistakes) and to develop the self-confidence that will help them make their own choices when they are out in the world and don’t have us there telling them what to do. As they grow, our children need our guidance and support, without a doubt, but they also need space to grow their own roots, to flower in their own time when the conditions are right for them — we can’t do it for them, and we’ll just delay their growth process (at best) or undermine the full potential of their development (at worst) if we try.

So, this is why I’m happy for my son as he prepares to head off to school. He’s making a choice that is right for him, and I know that he will take his curiosity, creativity, and self-confidence with him, to a place where the staff and teachers know how to support and encourage without interfering. Homeschooling over these past seven years has allowed him to discover his authentic mix of strengths, interests, and goals, so I am confident that even more happy moments are coming our way.

 

If you enjoyed this post, click on the image below to check our what other homeschoolers have written about their happiest homeschooling moments!

 

 

Newest Article for Homeschool.com

I’ve been doing lots of writing about homeschooling and the transition to college lately, including this recent article I wrote for Homeschool.com where I share some of the information from my new book. If this is a topic you’re thinking about, too, check out the article and let me know what you think!

The perspectives and insights I’ve gained throughout this research have been incredibly valuable in the planning I’m doing with my boys, and I know that there are many, many homeschooling families who would benefit from this information, too. So, I wanted to return and share some of the specific results of this research with other homeschooling families who are also planning for college. Given the large quantity of information I’ve gathered, I can only share some of the specific questions, concerns, and experiences resulting from the research with homeschooling families in this article, and will follow up in a separate article focusing on the perspectives and recommendations provided by the survey and interviews with admissions officers.   Read more…

 

 

News! Book Reviews and Homeschooling Conferences

The book reviews for “From Home Education to Higher Education” are coming in, and it’s very exciting, to say the least! Here’s what one reader, an independent college counselor, had to say:

“For educators and others wanting to understand the wide range of homeschooling experiences, examine the myths surrounding homeschooling, and become familiar with some of the research regarding homeschoolers’ academic outcomes, this book is a great place to begin. Dunlap has done a marvelous job of shedding light on the world of homeschooling and how post-secondary institutions might adapt to this growing population.

From Home Education to Higher Education opened my eyes. It taught me a lot about the world of homeschooling and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand the homeschooling experience.”

You can find the full review here:  https://collegeahead.us/home-education-higher-education/

 

In addition, one of the homeschooling moms profiled in the book recently sent me an email and had this to say:

“I love the book. I mean, I seriously love it. It’s been a great review for me, plus it’s given me tons of new information. I didn’t know it would be as relevant to me as it has proven to be. Every now and then I have a parent who is considering homeschooling ask me questions. I now know I can recommend your book. It gives a great overview of homeschooling in addition to all the information about college and additional resources. It’s also been great timing for me as I think about the coming homeschooling year. Your writing is clear and concise, making it easy to read, as well. Nice work!”

If you’d like to pick up (or download!) a copy, you can find it on Amazon here.  Once you’ve read it, let me know what you think!!

And in other news…. I wanted to let you know that I’ll be speaking as part of the Home Education Council of America’s (HECOA) 13th Annual “Not Back to School” event.

 

5 COLLEGE APPLICATION TIPS FOR HOMESCHOOLERS

Thursday, September 14th

12:30-1:30pm PST

 

For traditional students and non-traditional students alike, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when you are applying to college, demonstrating your academic ability is the most important part of the process. For non-traditional students like homeschoolers, though, there are other important criteria that admissions officers also look for — things you’ll rarely find on their school’s admissions page.  In addition, there are key choices you can make even before you apply that will help your application stand out during the admissions process. So, if you’re beginning to think about applying to college and are wondering what you can do to increase your chances of getting accepted to the schools of your choice, join us for this inspiring, informative session. By the end you will have a list of easy steps you can take immediately, along with a variety of unique ideas for making your application compelling to any admissions officer.

The conference is online and completely FREE!

Sign up on the HECOA web site!

 

 

Book Launch! “From Home Education to Higher Education”

 

 

It’s hard to express the excitement I feel about having my first book published! July 11th, the official launch date, will be a special day this year and for years to come. Here’s a quick overview of the book, which is available for pre-order on Amazon right now — please share with anyone you know who may be interested!

 

Coming Tuesday, July 11!

From Home Education to Higher Education

College applications are difficult at the best of times: word-count-specific personal essays, questions about what makes their school the best school, and let’s not forget the plethora of paperwork, different for each college. But what happens to those who don’t attend a school where they get official transcripts to give to the college in question or don’t have a school counselor to help them decide their futures? What happens to homeschoolers and other alternatively educated students?

In her GHF Press book, From Home Education to Higher Education: A Guide for Recruiting, Assessing, and Supporting Homeschooled Students, Lori Dunlap seeks to help answer these questions and more by encouraging professionals who work with homeschoolers to develop a plan to recruit, assess, and assimilate these students so that they may better enter and thrive in colleges and universities of their choice At the same time, Lori gives advice to homeschooling families to help them discover what admissions professionals want in an ideal applicant, better preparing them to write those essays, answer those questions, and work with the admissions professionals at their chosen schools.

 

Pre-Order Now!

 

 

Let’s Explore Some Homeschooling FAQs

Whether you’ve been homeschooling for just a few days, or you’ve already been at it for many years, at one point or another you’ve probably asked yourself at least one of these homeschooling “frequently asked questions”:

  • How do I make sure my kids learn all the right things?
  • What if I leave out important material?
  • What is the best curriculum for [insert subject name here]?
  • What if my child won’t do his/her work?

I don’t think I’ve met a homeschooling family yet who hasn’t faced these uncertainties at some point along their homeschooling journey. In fact, I think many of us have probably bumped up against these questions multiple times as we gain more knowledge and experience, and as our children reach new phases of development and maturity. The reason you won’t find a printed FAQ with easy answers to these questions, though, is that the answer to all of them (and numerous others) is the same: “It depends.”

One of the primary reasons so many of us have chosen to educate our children at home is because we want them to learn in a way that fits their particular needs and goals, and that allows us to be responsive to our students’ interests and abilities. Once we make this choice, though, we often find that this level of freedom and flexibility is also one of the biggest challenges of homeschooling. There are so many options, so many possible paths, that many of us begin to feel overwhelmed, or afraid to make a mistake, or concerned that our kids will miss out on important opportunities.

This is where learning and personality assessment can be incredibly helpful. Understanding our child’s particular learning preferences and strengths is a great starting point not only for developing our homeschooling plans, but also, as our children get older, for starting to think about post-high school plans, including higher education and career options. One of the most thorough and helpful assessments I’ve found is the one developed by the LearningSuccess™ Institute called the “Self-Portrait™ Power Traits Assessment,” and I recently had the opportunity to interview Mariaemma Willis, a learning specialist at the LearningSuccess™ Institute. (Please note: the above link will take you to a page with more information on this assessment, along with a link for purchasing the assessment at a reduced price.”)

Here are some of the questions I asked, along with Mariaemma’s responses…

 

  1. What are the most important things I need to know to homeschool?

The most important thing you need to know is who the student is. When students are in school, teachers and administrators begin their planning by thinking about things like the curriculum, learning materials, and the physical classroom. The individual students, including their learning preferences and interests, are rarely considered in the planning. As homeschoolers, however, you have the freedom to begin with knowing who the student is, and then all the other decisions can flow from there. And while some parents already have an idea about how their children learn best, sometimes a formal assessment can also be validating, in addition to providing insights about areas you may not have considered, like what the best learning environment might be for them. What’s more, students love learning about themselves, and the results of the assessment can be a great basis for involving your child in the decision-making process.

 

  1. What are some of the areas the “Self-Portrait” assesses?

There are five basic dimensions included in our assessment are:

  • Disposition (personality),
  • Preferred learning modality (auditory, visual, or tactile),
  • Interests,
  • Talents, and
  • Best learning environment.

There are five main dispositions we look at, each of which tends to be pretty stable over time. The best learning happens when we understand that a “spontaneous” student, for example, needs to be able to move around and release physical energy while they’re learning, versus an “imaginative” student who learns best when they can piece ideas and information together for themselves. The first won’t learn well if confined to a chair for much of the day, and the second needs the freedom to explore their thoughts and ideas on their own. The three other types of dispositions include “organized,” “supportive,” and “curious,” each of which requires different types of support and opportunities to accomplish their best learning.

In addition to disposition, knowing how your student prefers to take in information, how to incorporate their interests and talents into their learning plan, and creating an optimal learning environment for them (considering factors like noise levels, lighting type, and social groupings) are each important individually and together as you make decisions about different types of classes, curriculum, and other educational activities.

 

  1. Could learning style information also help with home issues, such as chores?

Yes, because you can match chores with your child’s disposition. For example, if your child has more of a “supportive” disposition, you can ask them to do chores that involve working directly with other members of the family, like helping to make meals. If you also factor in their interests and talents, you can create a list of chores that they’ll be more likely to remember to do, and will do well.

 

  1. Can a learning assessment help me with a child who resists doing school work?

Yes! If a child is balking about doing academic work, it’s a clue that something is going on, and that you may need to find a different approach. The learning assessment is a good starting point, and a learning coach can help you incorporate the results of the assessment into a plan that works for both the parent and the student.

 

  1. How do I know I’m teaching the right things? What if I leave out important material?

Nobody knows for certain if they’re teaching the “right” things, not even experienced teachers. Every school teaches different classes in different ways at different times – nobody teaches all the same things, so there’s no important material you can leave out. As homeschoolers, as long as you teach your children the basics, including understanding and valuing their learning preferences, they’ll have the tools they need to be lifelong learners and will be able to fill in any “gaps” in the future.

 

So, as many of us in the homeschooling community wind down one academic year and begin planning for the next, taking some time to look more closely at our child’s “power traits” could be a great starting point. The LearningSuccess™ Institute would like to help, and is offering two types of support to our community:

  • A reduced-rate learning strengths assessment, and
  • A free teleconference where you can ask Mariaemma questions about how to incorporate your results into your plan for next year.

 

Here’s the link to more information about the assessment and how to get your assessment at a reduced price:

“Self-Portrait™ Power Traits Assessment”*

 

The free teleconference will be on Thursday, May 4th, at 10:00am Pacific. You can join the teleconference even if you choose not to do an assessment — you’ll still be able to ask questions and learn a lot from the conversation! Please RSVP here, and we’ll send you the details on how to call in:

“Teach Your Own” Free Teleconference

(*Please note that the link to the assessment is an affiliate’s link, which means that if you purchase an assessment you will be helping support my work. Thank you!)