How does that saying go? “When life gives you lemons….”

So the postponement of back-to-school has just thrown acid on your plans to return to normal life? (Normal, that is, life before 2020.)

Once again marooned at home with antsy kids, probably you’d like to throttle whoever caused this mess.

Wait a minute! Out of the corner of your eye, is that a glimpse of radical sunshine?

What if “education” could be more than “job preparation” and actually fostered the learning of empowering, life-long skills?

What if acquiring such skills could happen simply, at home or even at your place of work?

What if you, the Parent, realized that in many ways you are actually your children’s best teacher?

Imagine your grown children telling others that they learned everything important from home and family!

Home learning has been a burgeoning movement since the Nineties. Parents have shown that home schooling needn’t be a pallid imitation of regular school.

What if “education” could be more than “job preparation” and actually fostered the learning of empowering, life-long skills?

I home-schooled Grades 2 and 8 with my LD kid—great years, compared to Grade 1 in a Coquitlam public school and Grade 7 in a U.S. SpEd school.

Yes, it took work, the specialized parts of which we needed paid help for, such as piano lessons, trampoline gym, architecture, and our child’s auditory-processing deficit. Reading and math happened automatically, mostly in the kitchen, reading recipes, measuring and pouring, learning the stove, preserving food and managing tools. At bedtimes, I read aloud all seven volumes of Narnia.

Think a minute and you’ll come up with myriad home activities that can deliver life-skills training to your children—and incidentally lighten the family’s housekeeping load.

Children competent in life skills become confident adults who respect their elders and can go anywhere and do anything. Isn’t that your dream for your kids?

Take your kids to a bookstore and have fun exploring the world. Let the kids find their interests and you’ll both have fun and learn a lot. Even better, your bookstore can help with how-to and learning materials. You’ll be surprised how wonderful an educator you are.

Want another hint to prevent innumeracy (meaning, not automatically knowing how to add, multiply, estimate, and so on)?

Borrow an idea from Waldorf Schools: stop worrying about reading and teach your kid to knit! 

Think about it: knitting means you MUST count and you MUST multiply even if you don’t know what addition and multiplication are (all the while increasing your manual dexterity). If you don’t, your knitting won’t fit your teddy bear and looks like a yarn-bombed porcupine. Instant feedback!

My third tip for avoiding learning problems (not to mention the special hell of being designated Special Ed)? Put that toddler to music! Yes, music. Get ’em dancing, singing, tumbling, clapping, stamping…have a ball! 

Of all the multitudes of kids who have been through my program, and of the torrent of requests for help with math, I’ve never had an applicant for help with numeracy or literacy who had a solid music background.

I can understand why. You’re welcome to ask me for my theory.

My first tip for avoiding learning problems? Put that young learner on your lap and have fun together with a good book.

My second tip? Be a role model for young learners by letting them see you engaged with a book–in your hand, NOT on-screen. (There’s already research showing that on-screen learning is far weaker than the old-fashioned, face-to-face method.)

My third tip? Wait till tomorrow for that one.

As a learning specialist, I’ve learned that by far the most common block to easy learning is auditory-processing deficit: the brain just doesn’t know how to organize the sounds of the language. Something gets missed in early childhood…or perhaps some trauma or accident disrupted the learning process.

But this can be fixed! With help, even adults can install the missing piece and enjoy having a faster, smarter mind. Better yet, you can help prevent the pain of auditory-processing deficit in young children by reading to them–and with them. Reading is first-class therapy and at Wolffy’s Book Den good books won’t break anyone’s bank.

All I wanted for Christmas in the long-ago Fifties–besides a dog, natch!–was a book. A book of my very own, in which I could escape to other worlds and play with other beings, while actually safe and secure with my family at home. My first book was Grimm’s Fairy Tales–and boy oh boy, were those stories grim! I loved the unique scent of that book as much as its iconic stories. Today Grimm’s still occupies pride of place among the thousands of nourishing books in my family library.

Best medicine to protect our kids from the nightmarish reality their parents have to grapple with nowadays? It could be as simple, inexpensive and therapeutic as a book.

Start your kids early with a family reading hour–why not? Kids imitate their parents; imagine the impact of seeing the grown-ups having fun with a book. So simple and so inexpensive–and where’s the downside? There’s no downside to a book.