Q. My oldest child, a girl age twelve, is having a hard time working independently. She has a difficult time reading directions or explanations, and understanding what is required from her. She will read through her math lesson, then tell me she doesn’t get it. Whenever I sit down and read it to her and walk her through the examples, then she understands it perfectly. Any thoughts? – Carol in Illinois

A. The government school professionals would likely call this a learning problem or disability or some such thing with a complicated label. I would call it normal. Both of my boys were like that until they were twelve or so. They wanted me sitting with them when they did math and grammar and Latin. I think my being near helped them to focus their attention. I remember that if Nate had to do his math alone, he would later come to me with a “?” next to half of the problems, meaning he couldn’t figure out how to do them, but if I sat next to him he rarely had a problem figuring out even the most difficult problem. There is nothing wrong with sitting near the child and helping. It gives him confidence and it motivates him to work diligently. And that’s exactly what we are attempting to do with our children: teaching them to work diligently and be confident in all their work. With some children it takes longer to learn this, so we must be patient. Young children just don’t fit into the classroom model of working at their desk all alone. Now that my children are older, I will never have to work another math problem with my children. It makes me cry to think about it. Oh, to have someone asking me to sit by him to do math again. I would gladly give him my entire day.


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