Be the Executive Secretary, not the Teacher

There’s an important part of learning that’s essentially secretarial, known as executive functioning.

Another comment!! And another great one: “This type of homeschooling is definitely hard for (us). (My child) goes back and forth between wanting me to sit next to her and wanting a lot of support and wanting to do it alone. I want her to be independent, but she’s often stubborn and won’t listen to my advice.”

This mom has already done half the work of supporting a home schooler. She’s tuned in to what her child seems to want, in terms of support. The next step is to provide the support she needs, and cut off any well-intentioned support she doesn’t.

Parents should see themselves as executive secretaries at this time, not teachers. Our kids are lucky to still have their teachers, even if it’s just online.

There’s an important part of learning that’s essentially secretarial, known as executive functioning. Executive functioning develops gradually over the middle and high school years, even into young adulthood. Adults end up with varying skills in this area. Think of your most organized friend versus your flightiest one.

When I typed “executive secretary” into the title of this piece I cringed, because when I was in grad school I was often confused for my mentor’s secretary. It infuriated me, because I was a psychologist, dammit, not a secretary! I was focused on status, not usefulness. I didn’t realize at the time what a wreck my mentor would have been without his secretary.

My next post will explore the delicate balance between supporting your child and getting in their way. It might end up taking all week!

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