As Julia can attest with Mo and Bo, just because two kids shared the same womb does not mean they have similar personalities. Every child is unique. When my son came along, I was shocked at just how different he was than my daughter. After all, they had the exact same parents. The same potty training strategies didn’t work so well (thank goodness—my daughter was a fan of “poop art”), effective discipline techniques were and are different for both kids, even the types of playdates they enjoyed.
There was no “one size fit all” approach that worked for all of my friends’ kids. They didn’t even work in my same family! So, it really shouldn’t have been as much of a surprise to me as the experience would be similar when it came to school and learning. My daughter recharges her batteries with interaction while my husband and I both get drained being around too many people. Out of sight is out of mind for my daughter while my husband likes his workspace clear. My daughter likes to key into the big picture first while my son is all about the details and I prefer to focus on the human aspects of concepts before delving into other things. She and I would have almost the opposite reactions to Mommy & Me classes and teachers we attended together. Same parents. Same genes. Very different result.
Of course, because I did very well in school and skipped a few grades along the way, I thought I had the traditional, school-based learning thing in the bag. Boy, was I wrong. I knew she keyed into different reading strategies than I did, but then the ways in which she naturally looked at math concepts differed, too. And, of course, homework in the first grade started off as a nightmare. What should have taken 10 minutes was averaging an hour of battles. Then I started layering in personality type concepts and the problems started to go away. But, I was re-teaching a lot to her that she wasn’t getting in class. We’re not talking about a new teacher, either. The teacher my daughter had for first grade was the same one my husband had for first grade. But, as I mentioned earlier, different strategies work for my husband than for my daughter. When I started helping her learn the way that came naturally to her, our homework situation started to improve. When she went into second grade, she struggled during the school day and would ask me when we would work on homework together why her teacher couldn’t explain it this way during class. Of course, it’s because in a classroom of nearly 20 learners, teachers need to teach to the middle. It’s our responsibility as parents to make sure that we help them learn to play to their strengths at home so that they have a good set of tools in their toolboxes when they get back into school.
This is why I wrote my book, A Parent’s Playbook for Learning. I wanted to make sure that other parents who were pulling their hair out when it came to schoolwork would have an easy reference guide with respect to how they could help their kids succeed better in school without spending a fortune on tutors. There aren’t just a few ideas for each personality type in the book—there are a ton of suggestions that can make a world of difference for your kids. I wanted the same kind of experience that my daughter has when I help her get excited about ideas or concepts to be shared by other kids. Most of all, I wanted parents to take hold of their roles as the school’s and teacher’s partners in education—not just from a fundraising or party planning perspective, but from the perspective of helping develop a lifelong love of learning in their kids. And, as with all things parenting, you have to lead by example and show them not only how important learning is to your family, but how interesting and fun it can be, as well.
Jen Lilienstein is the Founder of Kidzmet.com and author of the award-winning book, A Parent’s Playbook for Learning, which can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats on Amazon.com, BN.com, iTunes, and in bookstores nationwide. She also writes frequently for FamilyShare.com, KidzEdge Magazine, and LessonPlanet.