I came across a few pictures that illustrate an important teaching tip that makes mentoring our kids MUCH more EFFECTIVE and INDEPENDENT.

Teaching tip: Don’t Block Their View.

Make sure you are in a position where you are not blocking their view of the very thing you are trying to teach them.

I see this mistake all the time- from teachers who literally stand in front of the students blocking their view as they write on the board, to fathers showing their children how to glue PVC pipes together with their hand blocking the placement of the pipes and glue, to moms working in the kitchen pointing to the instructions in a recipe book and saying “Read that” while their pointer finger completely covered the very instructions they expected their child to read, to well…just every day, day in/day out type teaching that goes on within our homes, schools, and everywhere.

I mean, think about it… What if you are teaching your young toddler to hammer a nail. They can easily learn this skill and learn to be coordinated in so doing. However, unknowingly you completely block their view and then think you’ve taught them. They didn’t actually have you demonstrate how fingers should be placed at the side of the nail to steady it, being clear of the hammer coming down on it, and how to hammer the nail in such a way that they personally witnessed the degree of  force to hit it with accuracy.

And what about this…teachers showing a classroom of students how to write a cursive K, for example, standing in the way of the child seeing HOW the strokes were made, then moving aside and saying, “Okay, now YOU do a K.”

The child only saw the RESULTS, not the PROCESS.  

How should they know? They didn’t actually SEE you do it- where to start, where to loop, how to end.

More effective teaching leads to better learning and quicker INDEPENDENCE!! Can I hear an AMEN!!

In the top picture, I’m actually standing behind Laura with my arms around her so that she can see the measuring cup. I’m holding it for her while she holds the spatula. After one good session in which she truly saw, learned, and did, she’s ready to be independent in this skill. The next time I could say, “Laura, put the batter in the baking dish.”  She’ll be able to do AS MUCH AS I TAUGHT HER. So, the more I want her to learn, the more I should mentor.  For example, “Laura, this is where the measuring cups are kept. You get it from here. This is also where it gets returned every time we clean it. …”  This means next time, I don’t have to set everything out on the counter for her, she knows how the kitchen is set up and exactly where to get the items needed to perform the tasks.  Teach her how to spray with Pam – where to get it, how to spray it, when to put it back and where to put it back.

You get the idea.

Independent learners and thinkers who can problem solve on their own because they understand a skill and the process of it.

This concept, as silly as you might think my example was, applies to fixing a tire with a nail in it, operating a jet ski and cleaning it when finished (if you’re like us and live on the salt water where everything rusts!), properly taking care of a pool and putting cleaning tools and supplies back in their proper place, and more.


In this picture from years ago,  is one of the college girls who helped me years ago. She is now married and has a baby of her own. She’s writing something for one of my kids so that the child can see the writing.  Notice that it’s not JUST her arm that’s to the side, but it’s the way she’s holding the pencil as well.  She’s enabling this child to see the pencil meet the paper with full view of what’s being written as she explains whatever it is to the student. (Did you note how vague I was? It’s because I’m not sure which child she is helping. Sorry. This is a note for you young moms. Pictures that are recorded in albums and accompanying journaling are such a treasure! I found this picture on my computer, with no specific journaling or organizational system denoting who is who.)

So, next time you’re instructing on anything, stop and think through the perspective of the learner. Can they see clearly what you are doing? And, remember the teaching tip from an earlier blog post – for MOST effective learning, after you’ve showed them, LET THEM HOLD the item and DO the process you just taught.  Then, gently guide them in touch and in voice with needed help. You’ll have teachable children who learn more quickly and enjoy learning from you if you communicate respectfully with them. Be their mentor, their cheerleader, their coach.  Afterall, isn’t that the way Christ does with us. He’s a patient, loving teacher, who is gentle with us.

Rhonda Moveyohandoutdaway.LOL ellis

1 Comment
  1. Kristi

    Such great advice! I remember this was one of the first things you taught me when I started helping your family. (I’m pretty sure it is Heather in the photo.) -Kristi

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