Our team at Victus is just home from an inspiring week at the MIDWEST Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati.
My son Rob, daughter Liz, and daughter-in-law Allie converged at the convention to represent Victus in the Curriculum Exhibit, and as they have shared with me the stories of students and parents they met, I am once again reminded of what motivates me to help children develop an effective system of study.
One afternoon, a boy stepped purposefully into the Victus booth and announced to his father, “I need this!” His father, meanwhile, was preoccupied with his mission to keep the children occupied while the boy’s mother shopped. The father continued to roll the stroller down the aisle while commenting that the cartoon in our display depicting an unorganized student sure did look like his child. The boy proceeded to ask Rob, Liz and Allie to explain the program to him, which they did.
The boy then rejoined his father and siblings. About an hour before the exhibit hall was to close, the boy returned with his mother in tow and once again proclaimed, “I need this!” His mother, exhausted from the conference, plopped down in a chair and looked pleadingly at my family members.
Liz took the cue and grabbed a workbook. She explained how a system of study works, and when she began to describe the process of writing goals that are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound—the mother lit up. She turned to her son and said, “You see, this is what I have been telling you! Results are nothing unless they can be measured and repeated.”
Good results come from sound processes. And those processes surely include the necessary parts to do a job well. This boy recognized his need for a better process. He needed help organizing his studies, and his mother possibly needed encouragement in helping him set smart goals.
As an educator for over 40 years, I have found that most students are willing, like this boy, to do a good job. But they, like this student, need processes that work. They don’t learn these processes with a hit-or-miss strategy. They learn them by being taught the necessary steps. Students need structure to help them organize their responsibilities.
Study skills often are “hit-or-miss” for students, and therefore ineffective. Research has shown that students who learn effective study skills are more confident and experience more academic success. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Successful students learn and use sound processes that bring good results. And as parents and educators, we can be more successful as we listen to our children express their needs as students.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming inspired me many years ago to think about better processes. Dr. Deming was a world-renowned statistician who taught that the results of anything we do come from the process, or the steps that we take. In order to improve the results, we must improve the process.
The knowledge that we as adults can help students like this boy achieve better results by teaching them better processes is more than motivating. It is inspiring.