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D is for Demonstration

There are many types of learners in the world. Some of us love to read. Some of us are keen on taking risks as we learn new things. Some of us prefer wordless visuals to follow like IKEA instructions. And for some some of us, learning is best with an actor demonstrating the behaviors we need to complete. Demonstrating is an important part of teaching our children because it helps them clarify what is expected of their bodies. This isn't just for children however. Many of us lean on YouTube to lead us through a task as well. One of the best things to remember when we are teaching our children- is that helping them see and understand what is expected of them should not be a secret. Be clear and provide examples while utilizing all teaching modalities and adapt them to our kids needs. This is key to great learning.

Teaching with demonstrations involves completing an experiment or process for your children to help them distinguish what needs to be done with their body and the tools they would use. This is clearly different from doing the work or activity for them. Sometimes parents have a hard time understanding how to use demonstrations and end up doing the work for a child. So, remember that demonstrating is a strategy that is often used in science, math, and things like household chores or physical fitness. It is done with something that will be repetitive and ongoing. If the child does not get a chance to do the act, then you are doing it for them. The work load should always go back to the child.

Demonstrating is also important when caution is needed due to the use of sensitive materials or completing tasks that may injure someone if done incorrectly. We also have to remember that our skills and ability levels are not always the same as our children and we have to gauge and adapt things for them. Demonstrations give you, the teacher, time to focus on your child's specific learning needs by providing you with the experience to walk through a task and see where learner accommodations and modifications need to be inserted. It also allows you to focus your teaching on specific aspects of the work that may need more attention -especially parts of a lesson that aren't clear in a chart of directions. It can help you ensure that your student doesn't skip over small and seemingly unimportant steps. In situations that require specific attention to details, demonstrations are important because they allow you to create a tailored experience that will prevent simple mistakes. The demonstration allows them absorb processes from you first hand and create points of interest and motivation. Use these to your advantage because this will enhance their learning and can create lasting memories for you as a family.

Think about how you can start to improve your teaching at home when introducing a new chore by using a simple demonstration. You can even have fun with it. I know my kids love to think I am this "all-knowing teacher/mom", and they often think it's hilarious when I attempt to do a task and fumble around before letting them try. My son has always loved Mr. Noodle from Sesame Street who always does things wrong and misinterprets Elmo's instructions. I often use the "Mr. Noodle technique" of purposefully misunderstanding a task which opens up the door for my kids to take control of the lesson. It's one of my favorite ways to break the ice and put the teaching back into the hands of my kids. And that is what homeschool is all about, isn't it?

-Laurie Gracia-Alikhan The Homeschooler Post editor

ABC TIPS AND TRICKS is a series of articles based on teaching practices I used during my classroom teaching that are great for all learners. They can be implemented into any setting where learning happens. Have a question or want more examples? Subscribe to our page for regular updates or email me at

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