As teachers, Anne and I were always aware of the importance of challenging children in every activity. It isn’t easy to do this even with a group of children, let alone a whole class of maybe 30+ children.
As Home Educators working alongside your own children, you are at an advantage. You know your children better than any teacher could ever hope to. This will help you to know how much challenge to give your child. We know it still won’t be easy and talking to Home Educators about this shows us that this is a topic of concern for many of you.
This diagram is helpful in giving you a strategy for ensuring that you offer enough challenge to motivate your child but not so much that he/she could not achieve what you have asked and therefore become demoralised.
The optimal challenge is within the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). This zone lies just beyond what your child currently has understanding of.
If we, as maths leaders, give our children work that is too hard they will become demoralised; stop having a go and lose self esteem.
That is why this diagram is so useful, once your child begins to believe they can’t do maths turning that around again is very difficult.
Everyone misjudges the amount of challenge a child can cope with from time to time. If that happens the skill then is to back track quickly to the area of current understanding of your child in whatever topic he/she is studying and challenge again from there. Small steps help.
Working alongside your child and asking questions about his/her thinking will help you to recognise whether the amount of challenge is enough.
This strategy can be used in any area of study your child is undertaking.