Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: 7 Strategies for Developing Capable Students

Author: Pat Fenner 

Homeschoolers or not - who doesn't want a capable student? Although not a new book (copyright 1998), the message inside is very timely.  The authors, Dr. H. Stephen Glenn and Michael L. Brock,  seek to provide parents with  encouragement and tools to help them enable their kids to grow into capable students and human beings.
For the most part, the case studies they look at and analyze revolve around the situations kids in public or private schools might face, but there is still much to glean here, as homeschooling families may experience similar behavior problems and relational struggles as well.
Interspersed with "School-smart Parenting Tips", this book is very practical. Because we are with them 24/7, it's very easy for homeschooling parents to fall into the trap of "doing for" our kids, and the authors show just how disabling this behavior is. Truly empowering our children happens when we create conditions that enable them to act effectively on their own behalf.
By identifying and describing "barriers" (parental behaviors which reduce children's confidence) and "builders" (parental behaviors which increase the same, parents can begin to recognize and increase the latter. Builder behaviors include:
  1. checking
  2. exploring
  3. inviting/encouraging
  4. celebrating
  5. respecting
Divided into 18 chapters and 3 sections: The Capable Student, The Capable Family and The Capable Team, homeschoolers already understand how these areas interact - hey, we live it! But I understand this may be a new concept for others (smile!)
Part One describes 7 significant attributes that a capable student possess. Part Two looks at important areas to develop to create and maintain a positive family environment. And Part Three explores ways teachers and parents can "combine forces" to help develop capable students. Homeschooling families can glean much from Parts One and Two. I really appreciate the authors' perspective that any change (and in this case, in the classroom or learning arena) always begins in the home.
So, while that concept is one we all may be familiar with, it's really helpful to find a book that goes on to give you some practical tools for developing behaviors in our children that will better enable them to be stronger students and individuals when they eventually go out into the "real world"!

Pat Fenner encourages homeschoolers - both newbies and veterans - from her site "Help 4 Your Homeschool". Having graduated their 2 eldest from high school, and shooting for the same with their 3 elementary-aged children, Pat helps others look "outside the box" of standard curricula for educational resources and inspiration.

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