Episode summary:

Susan talks with Laurel Springs Distance Learning founder Marilyn Mosley about how to help children and parents adjust and even embrace learning at home. Tips on learning style and various homeschooling approaches, along with helpful resources.

Marilyn Mosley Gordanier is a speaker, author, and the Founder/Executive Director of Laurel Springs School, with more than thirty-five years’ experience in the field of online learning. Since its founding in 1991, Laurel Springs Distance Learning Program has become the premier provider of personalized education for over 85,000 students in grades K through 12.  Under Marilyn’s directorship, Laurel Springs High School received the United Nations Global 500 Award and the President’s Youth Environmental Award. Marilyn was nominated for a Nobel Earth Prize and received the Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the Field of Distance Learning, from the United States Distance Learning Association. Plus she’s the co-founder of a non-profit organization called Educate Girls Now, empowering the daughters of Afghanistan through education and self-determination. She’s committed to providing information and resources for helping families adjust to learning at home. laurelsprings.com

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Transcript:

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the Parenting Without Power Struggles podcast. I’m your host, Susan Stiffelman. I am a marriage and family therapist, a former teacher, a parent, a mom and the author of Parenting Without Power Struggles and Parenting with Presence. and I’m so glad you’re here. Wow. It has been quite a ride this past week for everybody. How are you all doing right now? Most of you are practicing physical isolation. You’re either trying to establish new routines in your family or maybe you’re just winging it day by day hoping to get through without too many meltdowns and both versions of getting through the day are fine. By the way, maybe though you’re starting to think about what your children’s schooling is going to look like for the next few weeks or months. So my guest today, Marilyn Mosley and I are going to share information on homeschooling, but first I want to make sure you know about a few other resources that you might want to take advantage of for more interactive support in the weeks to come.

 

Speaker 1:

I usually start the podcast with a mention of our monthly Parenting Without Power Struggles membership program and you can learn more about that at https://susanstiffelman.com/membership/ and you can test drive it for a dollar if you use coupon code Podcast19 but today I want to invite all of you to join me for what’s turned out to be a beautiful free weekly online support group. Get together where we talk and we listen. I’ve done a session with Janet Lansbury which was so touching and we have one coming up with Tina Payne Bryson, so this is a great way to get together with others, whether you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or you need tips for homeschooling or handling anxiety or you just want to feel less alone. Just visit my website, Susanstiffelman.com it’s right there on the first page, you can get all the scoop there to join us every Monday for the next few weeks.

 

Speaker 1:

And I’ll see you there. Literally, thank goodness for technology and zoom right now. I also have a class this Thursday with Dr. Lawrence Cohen on playful parenting. He is the author of one of my favorite parenting books and we’re going to be talking about how to lighten the mood and strengthen connection and ease anxiety during these unusual times. So you can find out about that. Also at Susanstiffelman.com do make sure to sign up for my free newsletter cause we’re working on a lot of other offerings for parents, more on homeschooling, more on co-parenting after divorce, through this time of physical isolation and kids going back and forth. So you can be sure to get all the updates by it. Susanstiffelman.com so let’s get started. My guest today is Marilyn Mosley, Gordanier. She’s a speaker, an author and the founder and executive director of Laurel Springs school with more than 35 years experience in the field of online learning. Since its founding in 1991 Laurel Springs distance learning program has become the premier provider of personalized education for over 85,000 students in grades K through 12 and under Maryland’s directorship, Laurel Springs high school, received the United nations global 500 award and the president’s youth environmental award. Marilyn was nominated for a Nobel earth prize and received the outstanding leadership by an individual in the field of distance learning from the U S distance learning association. Plus, she’s the founder of a wonderful nonprofit organization called educate girls now, which empowers young girls and young women in Afghanistan through education and self determination. She’s full of heart and is committed to helping me help you today with information about helping you and your kids adjust to learning at home. So let’s get started.

 

Speaker 1:

So, hi Marilyn. So parents are in all kinds of states as they look at homeschooling their kids for the foreseeable future. Right now there’s a lot of schedules and routine lists being passed around the internet, which is all very helpful. But for some parents it’s a bit intimidating, right?

 

Speaker 2:

Yes, definitely. This is a whole new world and a whole new way of learning for parents.

 

Speaker 1:

So I think it’s important that we recognize that this isn’t going to be a one size fits all thing. Homeschooling routines need to work for the particular child and the particular parent involved. There’s a lot of ways of doing school, and I know when I was homeschooling my own son, we often made it up day by day. Some days were really structured and other days he just read a lot. So let’s talk about how parents can structure their kid’s learning time with respect to the child they have rather than trying to conform to something they think they should be doing. Assuming of course that their child isn’t going to be sitting down at 8:15 for a virtual classroom experience, which I know some schools are offering, but if that’s not the case, how should parents begin to think about embarking on this journey knowing that they have a chance to kind of customize what they do for the child they have?

 

Speaker 2:

I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity for parents and for children to get to understand how they learn. And I’ve been a proponent of a learning style profile because parents and some children are very structured. Others need more time for creative activities or for inventive periods of time. And so when we’re looking at how we learn, just understanding ourselves and giving ourselves a lot of space to realize that we don’t have to be perfect, that it’s okay for us to be doing what we’re doing every day. For example, if I have a child that needs to get through their schoolwork, but it’s also like loves to go outside and explore, it’s really wonderful to give them breaks and very, very quickly and often so that they have that chance. Or if I, if I have a child that needs to be drawing while they’re learning, I definitely encourage that.

 

Speaker 2:

Or holding clay or just having a chance to talk as they learn. There are so many different kinds of learners in every one of them are important. And also for parents too, to lower your expectations and then it doesn’t have to be perfect. This is new for every one of us. This has never been, there has never been a time in history that we’ve had this occur. And so I think it’s a great opportunity to give yourself space to find support through mentors, individuals who can come on virtually and help you or to Axe your children how they like to learn and have a conversation about it.

 

Speaker 1:

I love that and I love that. We want to talk about folding kids and their internal self-awareness into the picture because if you ask a child, do you think you would prefer to do your reading here at the table while I’m making dinner? Or would it work better for you to make a little tent in the living room and hide out in there? They’ll tell you some kids really would love to play with clay as you were saying. I love that you mentioned that. Or they might want soft music in the background and these are things they can’t normally do in a classroom. And I know for children who typically complain about going to school or for whom school is not a very good fit. This is a great chance to reimagine what learning can look like and help them associate learning and reading and doing math and science and art with a positive experience that may not have been the case when they were in a traditional classroom. So thanks for bringing up that idea of learning style. What are a couple of resources for parents who might want to better understand their own child’s learning style?

 

Speaker 2:

One of the best is an organization called the Learning Success Institute and they created a learning style profile. We’ve used it at Laurel Springs, I’ve used it with my children, I’ve actually used it with friends and it just helps you to understand if your child is a producer or a thinker or an artist or an inventor or as actually a performer or a relater. And just knowing that about and also about yourself is very, very helpful and it gives you a chance to understand how they think and how they learn and to give you, give you and your child the opportunity to accept each other the way you are. This is a great chance to be able to reimagine how we view education and an opportunity to see things in a way that perhaps we’ve never had a chance before. When have we had a chance to be in deep relationship with our children in such a manner, or to really think about how they want to learn and it teaches children that they can be the captain of their own ship rather than having someone on the outside who’s always dictating what they need to do.

 

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that’s great. So that we’ll have the links in the show notes, but that learning success Institute is a great resource. I also love the multiple intelligence test helps parents and children and a great thing to do as a family where you can find the test online, Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence test to allow you to understand what your flavor is. And one thing I want to offer all of you by way of comforting or reassuring you is that in a typical six hour school day, a lot of time is spent by the teacher in managing behavior, in starting and stopping into conditioning and getting kids to move from one thing to another. So when you’re thinking about structuring a school day, please don’t feel you have to make it six hours long and lost. That serves you in your child. You can accomplish quite a lot in 30 minutes of focused, concentrated attention, especially when your kids are feeling alive and passionate and excited about learning through a modality that actually works for them. Marilyn, you mentioned mentoring. Can you talk about that? Because I, I think parents are going to really be wanting some outside help, particularly when their child is, you don’t even understand my math. So when they turn for, you know, help outside the home when everyone is staying home.

 

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. You know, I love mentoring. I think it’s such an important part of a child’s growth to be able to have individuals who are an example for them, be it in science, math, English or the environment. And so right now we have an incredible opportunity. There are a lots of teachers who are home, many who don’t have a curriculum that they’re having to overview, oversee, and are looking for children to help. I found a lovely young woman here in town who is able to work with my children and I’m not paying her. She’s just so happy to have a chance to interact and to be of service. And I think that people want to give back. This is a time when people want to help. If you post on your local forum or you reach out to friends or relatives, I can assure you, you will find individuals who would be so honored to help you. And this gives children a chance to interact with people of different ages and different expertise.

 

Speaker 1:

That’s fantastic. And there’s so much that can be done remotely. You know, you can find a high schooler who might really like to tutor your child’s, you know, algebra your seventh grader, eighth graders math. So take advantage of the fact that there are people who want to help, who, who find their own anxiety reduced when they have some purpose or meaning. And those people might be young adults who are kind of going a little stir crazy themselves by being home.

 

Speaker 2:

Such a good point. It’s such a good point. And there are experts in various fields who are also looking to be of service and it’s very, very, very important to make sure that our older generations are being encompassed and feel like they can be of service to.

 

Speaker 1:

And you know, I noticed today there was a free class from Yale university, their most popular class on happiness being offered at no cost. So think outside the box, you guys, your, your 11 year old might really enjoy taking a college level class and something that excites them. There’s no reason that you have to constrain yourself to, you know, quote, age appropriate material.

 

Speaker 2:

I mean, isn’t this an exciting time to be able to do this? Define resources that at another time wouldn’t have been available that can be found now because people are giving back. I have a friend who’s doing a class on health. She’s a professor and she wanted to reach out to young people and teach them more about health Coronavirus, how to eat well. And it’s amazing. She’s had over 40 young people sign up to do her pro her programs. So there’s incredible opportunities out there right now.

 

Speaker 1:

That’s fantastic. Yeah. You know, this may be the silver lining in what is otherwise a very challenging time for everyone. Maryland. There are different ways or approaches to homeschooling and I do want to just mention them before we wrap up. I know that I’m going to be doing more on this topic of homeschooling. Again, everyone please sign up for the free newsletter cause you’re going to be notified as soon as there’s a new podcast episode or a new class or a free get together. But let’s talk about the various types of homeschooling mural until people can become more comfortable or familiar with some of the language that might be floating around out there.

 

Speaker 2:

Perfect. So I would break it into public programs, private programs, structured programs and less structured programs and then unschooling. So public programs are usually offered by charter schools. They’ve been going on for many years and they provide you as freedom. That is a little bit less regulated. Often gives you more opportunity to include some of your own personalized. Some of these programs provide you with curriculum, others provide you with a stipend and you go out and purchase the materials and then report back to either their teacher or their supervisor. How would people find those? You would go online and you can look at, look under charter schools or I can give you some, we can list some of the names for people like K-12 connections Academy, focus, learning. These are all in, these are all programs that are looking for more students are open to taking more students.

 

Speaker 2:

Some of them again will provide you with curriculum. Others will give you a stipend to buy materials under private distance learning curriculum that’s personalized, put more structured and offers you a curricular option. And teacher service are schools like Laurel Springs, Oak meadow and Keystone. And those are programs that are really wonderful for families that want a very, very personalized program where there’s a hands on teacher who is helping you with the day we at lessons and all of the curriculum is being provided, less structured but also personalized and wonderful art. Our curriculum is created by schools like the soul Amar Academy or global village schools, either both us schools where you can create your own school plan. Teach services are available in the case of one of the schools and they offer you curriculum. There’s also a counselors available to help you with reading and writing and math and online zoom classes and you pay a fee for those.

 

Speaker 2:

You do pay a PE fee for the private programs. Okay. And what about unschooling? So unschooling is such a unique program. It was, it began way back in the 60s and it’s a very interesting style of home education where it allows a student’s interests and curiosity to drive their approach a path to learning. So rather than using a defined curriculum, unschooling parents trust their child to gain knowledge organically. And the key for this is to provide lots of options for your student to learn and this program believes your child is the teacher and there are wonderful programs that offer this. If you go to naturalchild.org they are one of the foremost leaders in unschooling. There’ve been many stories of successful students who have unschooled not for everyone, but it is a form of education that has a long, long history. Homeschoolers in general have tested about wanting to two years ahead of their colleagues in school and this has to do with the ability to customize curriculum and to learn at their own pace. That should be very reassuring to parents who might be worried that their kids might be falling behind if they don’t keep up with the traditional classroom curriculum. Yes. My three children Homeschooled and two of them went to Bennington college and both are very renowned in their field of directing on visual effects. And my other son went to Harvard and we had an absolutely wonderful experiences with the colleges accepting their work.

 

Speaker 1:

So hopefully that’s reassuring to all of you that you don’t have to scramble and figure this all out today if you relax and hope, one of the most important things, if you model a joyfulness around learning and enthusiasm rather than okay, pull out your mouth work, it will help your kids approach this with more cooperation and receptivity. Any final thoughts or words, Marilyn before we wrap up?

 

Speaker 2:

I do. I just wanted to leave with another thought similar to you as in very positive, which our children are natural learners. They’re programmed, they’re designed to learn, they’ve been learning since the moment they were conceived and on. And this is another opportunity for them to continue that learning process. And this may be the opportunity of a lifetime, a time they’ll remember forever when they had the chance to learn at home and to learn how they learn. So please feel you know, confident that you’re going to get through this. It’s going to work out and your children are going to do beautifully. They’re going to be beautifully when they return to school and if you decide to continue to homeschool, they’ll do beautifully at home.

 

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much, Marilyn Mosley. What a gift you are to all of us. Thank you. 

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed that and I hope that you’ll take to heart some of the words of reassurance that we’ve tried to share with all of you as you suddenly find yourselves navigating the world of homeschooling. If you’d like to join me in a more interactive forum, please head over to Susanstiffelman.com/better-together to sign up for our Monday online get togethers. Next week, I’ll be joined by Tina Bryson and we’ll share support and ideas and community with everyone and you can also find out about this week’s wonderful masterclass on playful parenting with Dr. Lawrence Cohen. I know that this is a challenging time, but I also know that human beings have great stores of resilience that will see us through. Please just be sure to reach out for support. We really are not meant to go it alone, and I look forward to being one of the places you turn to to get the support and propping up that you need. Remember, no matter how busy life gets, look for those moments of sweetness and joy. I’ll see you next time.

 

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