LEARNING ENVIRONMENT MATTERS MORE THAN IQ OR TALENT

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I think people would tell me I’ve set things up poorly for him: One-on-one is indulgent, rarely leaving home is not realistic, lessons will get too hard to memorize, etc. I don’t want to hear that because it’s working well for him now and I love seeing him so happy bouncing from tutor to tutor and test to test.

He was bilingual as a toddler. His nanny spoke only Spanish and they hung out with other kids in the same situation so everyone spoke Spanish all the time. There was so much Spanish in our house that I can speak great Spanish if I’m talking to toddlers: “¡Ayúdame! ¡Ven aca! ¡Damelo!”

When I found out he had a verbal processing disorder I ditched the Spanish. But it was clear to me, about five years later, that it was a terrible decision. And now research shows that bilingual kids are better able to overcome dyslexia. Blah. Even as I write this I’m so disappointed.

I stopped with the Spanish mostly because I worried that other people would tell me kids like him should learn one language. That was the last time I made decisions about his learning out of fear.

In a fascinating discussion about bilingual kids with dyslexia, researchers found that the limiting factor is not the second language or dyslexia. The limiting factor is the learning environment. The conclusion to this interview is profound:

Scientific studies have shown that the fears about raising or educating children are largely unfounded. To the contrary, we now know that children have the capacity to learn two languages as naturally and as easily as one in the home or in school. Meeting the learning challenges of struggling second language learners calls for educators, professionals, and parents who can create learning environments that allow them to achieve their full capacity.

Of course this conclusion is true for all learners in all areas of study. Parents who homeschool spend so much time worrying about curriculum, but instead, we should focus on the learning environment. If the child is in an environment that works for that child, the motivation and determination of all humans to learn what interests us will prevail.


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