My go-to fall/winter side dish is green bean casserole. It’s impossible to mess up the recipe because there’s no such thing as too many fried onions or too much cream of mushroom soup. I always make green bean casserole for Thanksgiving. It’s gotten to the point that my aunt doesn’t even ask me what I’m bringing to her house for the family meal.
Should our roles ever reverse and the whole family came over to my place for the Thanksgiving feast, I think I might be in trouble. Despite the hours I spend in the kitchen happily cooking and baking, I’ve never had to roast a turkey. There’s not even a roasting pan in my kitchen.
The pleasure I find in preparing food can quickly turn into frustration or anxiety when I’m asked to prepare a dish that goes beyond my skill level. It’s the same way with your child’s academic learning. You want to challenge her potential but not frustrate or overwhelm it. What she learns should be age appropriate.
Is your child’s education the right kind of learning for her age? Your child’s learning should be guided by what is right for her age based on her cognitive, emotional, social, language, and motor skill development. There are three elements that contribute to age-appropriate learning—teaching style, book layout, and student assessment.
- Teaching Style—How a topic or subject is approached can make a difference in your child’s learning. A science lecture on frogs’ muscular system is not appropriate for a seven-year-old any more than playing leap frog would be for a teenager (although you might be debated with on that point!). Activities, discussions, lectures, guided questions, and manipulatives all have their place. How you teach should also be influenced by your child’s learning style.
- Book Layout—Illustrations are the more obvious contribution to age appropriate learning with their numbers, sizes, and styles (painting versus photograph, imaginative versus realistic, simple versus detailed) varying by grade. But the text in a book also plays an important role. Font size, color, and placement all assist in captivating your child’s attention and inviting her to learn. Compare these pages from BJU Press Reading 2 (page 45 on left) and Explorations in Literature (page 89 on right).
- Student Assessment—This element may sound scary, but it’s simply an evaluation of your child’s understanding. Having your five-year-old find the triangle would be an appropriate assessment and so would asking your twelve-year-old to label triangles as acute or obtuse. Assessments can be questions, writings, or presentations. They can also be formal (like tests) or informal (like discussions). The purpose of an assessment is to find out if your child understands what you’re teaching.
How age appropriate is your child’s learning? It’s important to know whether she is overwhelmed or not challenged enough. Your child probably has strengths and weaknesses in different areas than other students her age. Here’s my challenge to you: Find good materials that increase your child’s learning appropriately. As you teach at home, customize her education by slowing down or speeding up.
You’ll be glad you did, and she probably will be too.