Friday, May 1, 2015

The Peanut Butter Approach to Education

      When educating your child at home you need to make some decisions about how you are going to spend your days.  There isn’t time for everything, so how do you decide what to focus on?  

     First and foremost, follow your child’s lead.  Your child’s interests will help shape your days.  But you may feel like there isn’t enough hours in the day to cover all of your child’s interests fully and still manage to cook and clean!  You need to make some strategic decisions here.  There are some things you will want to do a “deep dive” on and others that you will want to take a “light touch” approach.   

     Take a holistic view of all of the different areas you are covering in your homeschool or life learning journey.  Are you treating every subject matter the same?  Think strategically.  Instead of spending the same amount of time in each area, take a deeper dive into areas that your child is passionate about and take a light touch approach in other areas that you may still want your child exposed to.  Don’t take a “peanut butter” approach to education where all of your time, money, and resources are spread across every area evenly like peanut butter on bread.  Where is the largest return on your investment?

     For example, say your child has a passion for music, go with it!  This is where your time, energy, and resources should be spent.  Whether it’s signing her up for music classes, playing an instrument, or learning at home, know that this is an area that you can dive deeper in.  On the other hand, if you want to make sure you are covering history but that’s not a specific area she has an interest in, take a light touch approach.  Read, do projects, visit museums, etc., but you don’t have to spend the same amount of time on it as you do with music.  Also, integrate where possible!  Learn about the history of music and famous musicians and composers.  Use the leverage you have in the area of their primary interests to introduce or fold in other subjects.  This is what customized education is all about.  Schools are moving more and more towards a “peanut butter” approach where everything is standardized and treated the same.  In your homeschool, you can be more strategic, thus more effective!  
My girls hard at work

     The best corporations around the world manage and develop their employees much in the same way.  Working for 15 years in the field of corporate psychology, I’ve designed systems and processes to identify individual employee styles for learning and built training curricula based on these individual preferences.  What has been the outcome of these efforts?  Improved employee engagement, increased retention, and improved productivity.  It works, it’s based on scientific evidence, and it can easily be applied to home-based education….why should corporate America be the only ones to benefit!