Thursday, February 13, 2014

Healthy Relationships Nurture Learning

I was reading a piece in Good asking 'Why do we write off the things that matter to kids?' (Don't have to look too deeply. The answer? School is about getting kids through school).
What I find of interest is that the writer—as a mentor/tutor to those kids who are likely to drop out of school (without necessary one-on-one support)—writes:
“So much of the work we do relies on our relationships as mentors. The comfort and trust that comes with constancy is something many of the students at schools in the Los Angeles school district are lacking. Using honest conversations as ultimate motivators helps pave the way for a more cohesive transition from class, to class, and on to our after school program. Because I am able to be their mentor and tutor, I can lend them lessons that extend beyond the classroom.”
One of the most significant benefits to unschooling is that we can nurture learning in our children from a strong foundation of the relationship we have with them.
As in the example above, the young folks responded to the mentor even when they were not interested in the material they had to cover in order to pass the test.
Why? Because she was genuinely curious about them as people with unique passions and interests. When there is someone who genuinely takes an interest in a child and what that child is interested in, well of course they (the children) are going to be responsive.

And so it is with self-determined learning where learning is built on the foundation of respect and caring for the individual. Part of that includes conversation, frank and honest discussions about getting to what they want to do, taking young people’s dreams seriously. We are mentors to our children. And we find other mentors for them. As they get older, they begin to seek out mentors on their own (some still need our support to do so).

All the while, the relationship is the most important focus and springboard off into that big, old world of ours. That’s what we need to keep checking back on. Always provide space for the young people in your life to talk to you—even when it’s not necessarily convenient to you.
Sometimes, my 16 year old is grumpy as ever but often, around midnight, she’ll want to lay next to me and chat about her dreams and plans for the future.
It’s the time she likes to open up to me and if I want to connect with her, I’d better wipe the sleep from my eyes. There will be time enough for sleeping when she’s all grown up.
How about you? What do you do to nurture your relationship with your children?

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