5 Things You Must Know Before Teaching Children English

Small Girl With Hands Cupped Standing In Wheat Field While you may sit your child down at home and be all enthusiastic about teaching your child English (or anything else for that matter) – your child may have other plans.

So before you start to pull your hair or scream your lungs out – here are 5 things you absolutely need to know before you start teaching your children at home:

1. Children do not really care

Your kids may not want to sit down and learn English. They likely do not care. They would really rather be doing something else, or simply be doing nothing at all. It is not their fault – they are children after all. As a parent, you need to guide, encourage, cajole and sometimes even bribe them to sit down and pay attention for a while just to get the lesson started.

Expect children to take liberties with you, that they would not dream of doing in school.

2. Children are not really capable of self directed learning

If you have managed to sit them down – don’t expect them to be in a rush to devour the knowledge you place before them. Children are very different from adult learners (i.e you). Children do not appreciate the fact that they are there at that time to learn something – so they will not be trying to learn something. Most of everything they learn will be incidental instead of self directed. In other words, your child is not going to be telling himself/herself “let me try to memorise the spelling of this word”, instead he/she is going to be thinking of a whole lot of other things. If your child memorises the word at the end of the lesson, it is simply because the spelling of the word is something he/she was exposed to sufficiently during the lesson that it “stuck” to his/her memory seemingly on its own.

3. Children have limited reasoning capabilities

Do these sentences sounds familiar?

  • “Study now and you can play later”
  • “You need to know this for when you go to school”
  • “All your friends would know how to do this by now”
  • “It is not difficult, just try your best”
  • “You did this yesterday! Why can’t you do it now?”

Good luck with trying to using the above logical approaches to convince your child to pay attention.These rarely work for several reasons:

  • Children have a limited understanding of cause and effect
  • Children do not really care about the standards set by others
  • Children do not care about the expectations you have on them
  • Children do not understand medium/long term consequences
  • Children are driven by impulse more than anything else (as are some adults)
  • Children do not care (refer to point #1)

4. Children have limited attention spans

Children have a limited attention span. If you have planned a 2 hour home lesson for a 4 year old, it had better be intensely entertaining and tremendously captivating – and still you will probably fail. Many children cannot even sit through a 30 minute cartoon without getting distracted.

5. Children will not wean themselves off learning crutches

If you allow the use of “cheat sheets” or allow children to peek at answers in order to give them hints and encourage them, you are setting yourself up for frustration. Children will not wean themselves off learning crutches on their own. As mentioned earlier, children will not drive self learning and so will constantly try to make reference to any learning crutch they can instead of trying to figure things out for themselves. If you allow the use of excessive learning crutches expecting children to independently graduate into not using them at some point – you are likely to be sorely disappointed. Instead, you can expect teaching time to become rather unpleasant when you suddenly take these learning aids away.

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