I need more exercise.

We have a few acres of land, and one of my fantasy solutions to this problem is to have a nice walking trail around the property that is clear of grass, weeds, and other brush.

I could create this trail by renting a sod-cutter and spending hours cutting up sod, hauling it away, and then managing the weeds that will inevitably try to pop back up because the sod-cutter only cuts a few inches down.

Or, I could just get walking.

Sure, it will take longer, but over time, as I circle the property, a trail will emerge. The grass will not even bother trying to grow on that path because I’ll be back to trample down any progress the grass seedlings might make.

A special tool won’t solve my problem. Simply starting with a new approach will.
Sometimes we are using the wrong tool when it comes to kids and learning.

To learn is to become fluent. Fluency is reading without thinking about sounds or blends or syllables or the meaning of individual words. Fluency is knowing that 8 x 4 = 32 without a moment’s hesitation — without thinking, “Ttwo eights is 16, and two 16s are 32.”

Sometimes students try to ignore day-to-day learning just like I ignore my need to take daily walks in hot July. They might try to get by without making an effort to truly understand what they are being taught.

But then when exams roll around, they panic. They (metaphorically) get out the sod-cutter and start trying to create a path that will serve them well for one moment in time.

After the exam, the path will quickly be taken over again by weeds. The exam will tax their learning muscles because they haven’t been getting daily exercise; in essence, they’re out of shape.

By most definitions, that isn’t true learning. True learning requires:

  • Repetition
  • Application
  • A healthy body and mind

So, as a parent, here is how to prepare for learning.

  1. Remember that the first few times around the path are rough. Your child will be slow, and he or she may not even make it the whole way around. You can rest easy because you’ve expected this — the trail is untrodden and filled with obstacles.
  2. Recognize that, over time, practice makes the path smoother. Muscles grow as different types of terrain are encountered. You and your child will beat back or work around the obstacles.
  3. Resolve that no two paths will look exactly alike. Comparing this well-practiced path to someone else’s is the enemy of progress.
  4. Rethink the path you’re on. Ask yourself: Is my current school option setting my child up for success in learning on his own educational path?
No matter how great the school is, a school with large class sizes cannot facilitate individualized learning. 

A good education takes into account individual differences (how we create the path should look different for every learner).

A good education can’t be rushed to stay on a predetermined schedule (it will take different amounts of time to create a smooth, clear path).

A good education will equip parents to coach and teach their children every step of the way (you might need help along the way as your children journey on the path to a great education).

At Learnwell we provide this type of education for the families we serve.