A Parent is a Coach and a Trainer

“If your top priority for your child is soaring academic excellence, then you’ll need to invest him [or her] with the drive to learn.”

Kids have a natural curiosity and teach themselves all sorts of things. Parents act as coach and trainer and help them reach with all sorts of accomplishments. And then something strange happens. We send our kids to school and the drive to learn evaporates. Why is this?

It has to do with the culture we see in public schools which ultimately reduces the academic focus we saw at home. Students start to align with their peers in a culture where that doesn’t seem to value book smarts. As parents, we can try to counter this but it is an almost insurmountable force.

Here is the advice that Dr. Cornelius Grove suggests in his book The Drive to Learn.

“Consider making some or all of the following seven commitments to your child.

1. Your Exceptionality Will Be My Belief and Commitment

I will be your coach and trainer, dedicated myself to your attainment of mastery of academic skills. I will not view my role as facilitating your organic development. I will not treat you as though your mind is easily exhausted. I’ll assume you are malleable, resilient, and energetic, and that your brain is prepared to absorb much new information and tackle ‘stretch’ challenges.

2. You’ll Receive Direct Instruction from Me

I will directly guide and instruct you as you tackle ever more challenging tasks and concepts. In support of your dogged pursuit of mastery, I will drill you in basic skills and procedures. When appropriate, I will intervene to provide you wil a model, to show you how, or to shape your actions. I won’t shrink from the expert’s tole so long as I believe that I know more than you.

3. Your Use of Time Will be Managed By Me

I will take charge of your waking hours to ensure that they are largely, if not entirely, devoted to the development of your academic skills and other skills that will set you apart from your peers. Your extracurricular pursuits will favor individual skill acquisition over social or team-focused activities. After finishing your homework each day, you’ll continue studying towards mastery.

4. Your Outcomes Will Determine Your Self-Esteem

I will assume your academic performance is due to your effort, not your inborn abilities. When you do extremely well, I’ll praise your effort. When you don’t, I’ll expect more effort. Your self-esteem will rise and fall intrinsically—that is, in proportion to your attainment of goals. I will not try to inflate your self-esteem in cases when you haven’t gained a successful outcome.

5. Your Failures Will Compel My Attention

I will take note of your successes, but I’ll pay far more attention to your failures. I’ll collaborate with you to figure out why you fell short. I’ll participate side by side with you to ensure that you eventually master what you didn’t know how to do. Our family will celebrate your overcoming of significant failures, and your mastery of academic tasks that you found especially challenging.

6. Your Learning Will Emphasize How to Do Things

I will ensure that you know how to do critical tasks. I’ll show less concern for whether you can explain a task’s principles, and more concern for whether you can accomplish its processes. I’ll be pleased when you figure out how to on your own. Otherwise, I’ll ensure that you learn how to by drilling you in the fundamentals and/or providing you with my own, or others’, direct instruction.

7. Your Learning Will Be Competence Centered, Not Child Centered

Your academic exceptionality will be a central goal of our family, and your responsibility to our family. I’ll expect you to master academic subjects and related skills (e.g., music). Proficiency won’t be good enough. I’ll protect you from teachers who promise to “draw out students’ unique abilities,” “appeal to students’ learning styles,” “encourage creativity,” and so forth. Your purpose for attending classes will be to raise your academic prowess to an exceptional level.”

But we have an alternative

That is a lot for a parent to take on. Of course, we have an alternative. We can choose a more relaxed homeschooling approach where we don’t have to double down on what the school is doing. I like the above suggestions but plan to modify them for my homeschooling plan. If you want to find out more about that, please visit my new site knowschool.ca