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What Parents Can Do To Make Their Kids Less Self-Absorbed

What Parents Can Do To Make Their Kids Less Self-Absorbed

Sadly, a 2008 study showed that narcissism is on the rise in college students. Narcissism, according to Merriam-Webster, is caring too much about yourself and not about other people. In today’s self-absorbed world, how can we raise kids who strive to make a difference? How can we teach them to care about others, and instill in them a yearning to improve the world?

Here are some strategies to help your kids be less self-absorbed and enable them to see the world as being bigger than themselves.

Take them traveling.

Spend time together, far away from home. Get out of the daily grind and away from life as you know it. This will enable your kids to realize they’re one tiny part of this giant planet. Exposing them to people from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds will expand their world.

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If you don’t have the freedom in your schedule or finances to travel, you can still teach your kids about this huge world. Cook dinners together with foods from other countries, and learn about the people from that region of the world by reading books and looking at pictures together. Teach them that your culture is not better or more important than other cultures.

Still unsure whether or not traveling with your kids is a good idea? Check out this article about the benefits of traveling with your kids.

Fill them with awe.

Paul Piff, an assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, did an amazing study on awe. He has discovered that feeling awe increases altruism. His research has found that even very brief experiences of awe, such as standing near tall beautiful trees, help people feel less entitled and narcissistic. Feeling awe, he describes, helps people feel more connected to humanity.

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Piff describes how society today is awe-deprived, as adults spend more time in the office and commuting and less time truly connecting with others and in the great outdoors. He discusses how the attendance at arts events has dropped and family outings such as camping trips are often neglected. He feels that the awe deprivation is part of the societal shift towards people being more self-focused and less connected to others. To combat this, Piff suggests making a point to experience awe frequently, even in little fleeting moments, such as looking at the night sky.

Give your kids frequent opportunities to feel awe. Take them out in nature. Expose them to the arts. Learn what amazes them and give them opportunities to see it.

Serve the less fortunate.

Practice having giving hearts together, either by volunteering your time or donating to a favorite charity or a family in need. There are unlimited opportunities in the world to serve others. Most likely there are plenty of volunteer opportunities within your own community. Serving others will open your kids’ eyes to the extensive disparities faced by certain groups of people, and will help them learn about the needs within their own community.

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Do random acts of kindness.

Random acts of kindness are an awesome way to serve others. By doing random acts of kindness together, your kids will learn how to make people’s day. Your kids will learn about the act of helping others without doing it for praise or recognition.

Ask them how they think others feel.

Point out to them that their behavior affects others. This will help them learn to look beyond themselves and think of others too. Even simple questions such as “How do you think your brother feels when you take his toys?” can help kids learn to place value on other people’s feelings.

Model good listening skills.

Practice being active, engaged listeners in family life. It starts with you modeling excellent listening skills to your partner and kids. Put away your electronic devices and listen closely to your loved ones. Teach your kids that being a good listener helps others feel valued.

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Teach them the art of conversation.

Show your kids how to converse with others. Teach them the ability to not respond to others with simply “yes” or “no” answers but to ask questions of others and reciprocate in conversations. Teach them to focus on learning about others, asking people how their day was, and the importance of beong curious about people and the world.

Help them find positive role models.

There are young people who are incredibly inspiring, like Ryan Hreljac, who raises money to build wells. His efforts have enabled over 1 million people in developing countries to have access to clean water. Teach your kids that they can make a big difference in the world. Introduce them to positive, service-driven role models.

Do you have other suggestions of how to raise kids who care about others? I’d love to hear them.

Featured photo credit: Hike!/Travis Swan via flickr.com

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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