Sometimes teaching can be frustrating. Kids can seem to be actively trying not to learn what we are trying to teach them. Handwriting, for instance, is a very frustrating thing for me to teach. I gave up on trying to teach it, because I became such a grumpy bear when I tried. I started buying Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting workbooks, and I tell the kids to follow the directions and make their writing look like what is on the page.
It works out pretty well. All of my older kids write well enough that people can read their writing. And some of them actually have beautiful handwriting. They can if they want to. Some of them don’t care much about it. And that’s ok, too. I always say, “As long as it’s legible, that’s good enough.”
Now another subject that I find difficult to teach is Math. I don’t lose patience as much as I used to when explaining concepts that they have difficulty with, but I kind of do the same thing with Math as I do with Handwriting. I let somebody else teach it. I’ve been using CTC Math for the last year. It is working well for 3 or 4 of my kids. They don’t do it as consistently as they should, so that’s why I’m not sure about the 4th one.
The reason I’m writing about this is that I saw a mom on a Facebook forum who was complaining about her child not understanding “borrowing” in Math. She was extremely frustrated with this child and thinking about sending him/her to public school. I could tell from the language she used that she didn’t really understand the concept of “borrowing” herself. I can see how this would lead to a lot of frustration on her part and on the part of her child.
I think a mother in this situation should learn how to teach this concept by gaining an understanding of the concept of 10’s and 1’s herself. She should learn about manipulatives that she can use in teaching Math. In short, she needs to educate herself.
If you, as a homeschool mom, find a topic that is difficult for your child, and you really don’t understand it yourself or can’t get across to your child the meaning or how to do it, then you should find someone else who can.
Repeating the same words over and over or making the child do the same problem over and over or sit there until they have come up with the right answer is not profitable to either one of you.
Don’t be proud or ashamed or anything else!
Just find some videos online that explain it or ask your husband or friends or look for Math websites. Do something to get a different explanation of how to do it. For the sake of your child and your relationship, try something different.
Math is one of those subjects that has been very difficult for me to find the right curriculum for each child. You may have to try different ones for each child. Really pray about it, check out reviews of curriculum, observe your child and see how they learn easiest and best, and ask other homeschoolers about the curriculum they use.
But, please, whatever you do, don’t let your relationship with your child be destroyed or harmed by the inability of your child to understand a Math concept or to remember a process.
They may not even be able to do it your way. They may have to figure out their own way to do it. Let them do it. This is not a test! This is not public school. It’s not one size fits all.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
Your relationship with your child will always be more important than their Math progress. Or any other academic accomplishment.
There is a book called Rees Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb that tells the story of Rees Howells and how God taught him to live as an intercessor.
He first learned to abide in Christ. He never left God’s presence. The Holy Spirit was his constant companion. When I read this book, I was challenged in many ways. It has shaped my spiritual life for the last 10 years. I have learned to pray and find out God’s will for my life each day. I seek Him to find out my assignment from Him each day. At least, that’s my goal. It’s what I know I need to do. I try to keep my connection with Him strong and steady at all times.
I think this is very important in my daily life as a wife, mother, teacher, and my many other roles – (which reminds me of the Amy Grant song, “Hats”).
We homeschool moms really need the strength and grace that only God can give. And He is right there for us if we will only reach out to Him all through the day. Just say, “Hello, Lord” and you will know He is hearing you, and then say something profound, like “HELP!” He will help you. But there is more we can do to strengthen that connection and really get the help we need from the Lord. Spend time with Him. Pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him how much you love Him, thank Him, worship Him, and focus on His greatness. I love doing that! Get re-focused on him when things feel like they’re falling apart. Sometimes we need to get away from everybody and just spend time with Him alone. With small children, I know how difficult that is, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just make it happen. Just do it. Make it so, Number One! Put worship music on. Listen to a good Bible teacher. Read your Word. Turn on a good Christian radio station. Do whatever it takes to start thinking about Him and get your mind, heart and soul focused on Him. Give your spirit control instead of your mind or flesh, and get in touch with the Holy Spirit, and let Him lead you.
2. Teaching from Rest (Amongst Lovely Things, Read-Aloud Revival)
This is kind of a two-for-one, because this lovely, young lady emphasizes both of these ideas – teaching from rest and reading aloud as a way to build a beautiful family culture.
Sarah Mackenzie has written a book called, Teaching From Rest. You can find her and her book at: Amongst Lovely Things
I firmly believe that God wants us to be relying on Him, trusting Him to lead us in our homeschooling, and letting Him lead our children along in their studies, especially as they get older. It helps us to be able to teach from rest if we truly turn our homeschooling over to the leading of the Holy Spirit. She addresses the need to find the balance between the two vices that we can fall into – negligence (laziness) or anxiety. We can rest in the Lord without being negligent, not doing anything at all with our children or spending any time with them at all. There is a fine line here. It is very hard not to get so involved with our online stuff to the point that we ignore our kids. This is another area that we need to stay on our knees and keep asking the Lord for help with. I know I need to.
Another important point that she makes is that we need to stop trying to get through so much. We need to take our time and enjoy this time with our children. We all know this time goes so fast when our children are with us. Why rush through it or wish it away? Why do we pile on the work, the activities, the demands so that the days fly by in a blur, and it’s not a very pleasant blur. Everybody is worn to a frazzle and frustrated by the work that didn’t get done and the feeling that we are behind. I got over that one a long time ago, but I know that many homeschool moms still battle the feeling of being behind. I always ask, “Behind whom or what?” Who said you have to learn a certain skill or concept by a certain time? Who really knows? Who has authority to say that when we know that every child is unique?
Anyway, I do see myself doing something she talks about that I need to re-evaluate. I bring home tons of books at a time and am lucky to read each one even once before they’re due back to the library. She says that we should look for books that our children will really love and maybe read them over and over to them. Or take our time getting through them. I have definitely done that many times because life got in the way, and it took quite a while to get through a book. But that has usually worked out for the best because the story and characters had time to marinate and become part of us. I have loved our read-aloud times over the years. But I could probably cut down on how many books I check out. The idea that “less is more” is a really good idea to consider when it comes to homeschooling.
Which leads me to the other part of Sarah’s message – Reading aloud!
She also has a podcast called Read-Aloud Revival, which I love. She interviews authors and other homeschoolers who believe in the power of reading aloud to your family.
Reading aloud to your children, no matter how old they are. Even after they can read to themselves, keep on reading to the whole family together, just to keep the family culture based on good books and good stories.
You can find her podcast at her website. Just look at the very top of the page at the different tabs and click on the one that says podcast. It will take you to a page that shows all of the podcasts that she has done so far. I have enjoyed every one of them.
3. Be accountable to God alone
Not other homeschool moms or bloggers, not curriculum, not neighbors, not public school methods, advocates or schedules, not negative relatives.
After all, who will we stand before on the last day to give an account of how we lived our lives?
Who is the one who cares the most about our children, even more than we do?
4. Let God be responsible for the results.
Going along with number 3, who knows your child the best? Who knows what your child’s destiny and calling is? And who knows what choices your child is going to make?
Only God knows.
5. Think on good things – control your thoughts – get God’s assignment for each day.
We should, ideally, start our day with a quiet time with the Lord. Every day. We should spend time praying, reading His Word and getting our assignment for the day from the Lord. It may not always happen because of circumstances, but we should make it our goal, our target that we shoot for.
There are many good teachings by Dr. Caroline Leaf that you can watch on You Tube or on her website at www.drleaf.com that will help you get your own thinking right so that you can have a good attitude while teaching your children.
Here’s a good one to watch for a brief explanation of emotions and thoughts and how they affect your brain:
And here’s one about controlling your thoughts:
6. Teach your kids the big spiritual ideas.
Our kids need to know the plan of Salvation! That is the central theme of our faith and the whole Bible. So that is something we need to definitely make sure they understand.
We also need to demonstrate the virtues that God wants us to have, such as the most important virtue of love. The 10 Commandments and the fruits of the Spirit are very important for our children to learn.
Make sure to keep in mind that the most important things we teach our kids are the spiritual things. Academics are important, too, but spiritual things and character issues are more important. Building relationships and learning how to be a person that can be trusted and that does everything out of love are more important skills than reading, writing or arithmetic.
Put the Bible first in your homeschooling and live its principles in your daily life. Speak it to them throughout the day in the normal course of daily life.
And remember that values are caught more than they are taught.
7. Find mentors that are Spirit-led (for yourself and for your children). I have had to look online for mentors in my homeschooling. The Spirit led me to Cindy Rushton many years ago. Cindy helped me to understand that I could use notebooking to make homeschooling easy and interesting, that I could have a routine instead of a schedule, and that we should make memories together as a family. She also helped me to realize that Jesus was there for me, and I could take my cares to Him and all of my homeschool concerns. And Robin Sampson (Heart of Wisdom) came into my life around the same time. She helped me realize how important it was to put the Bible first in our homeschooling and the importance of learning about our Hebrew Roots.
In recent years, Diana Waring has been a wonderful inspiration and Sally Clarkson has been a special mentor who challenges me in areas of motherhood and reaching out to other moms.
Most of these women were a few years ahead of me in the homeschool journey, so I felt that I could trust what they were teaching since their fruit was good.
8. Teach your children how to focus on lovely, good, virtuous things.
Teach them that they can control their thoughts. Have them watch some videos by Dr. Caroline Leaf with you! When conflict arises with siblings or other children, help them to work through conflict in a biblical, loving way.
Teach them the importance of taking thoughts captive and casting down imaginations that go against what they know about God and His ways.
Teach them to walk in love.
9. Prepare your children for what God is calling them to do in the future.
Don’t get stuck in a curriculum that follows a school model. Remember that you can do pretty much whatever you want as a homeschooler. And remember that, ultimately, you are responsible to God for the way you raise and educate your children more than you are responsible to the state or anyone else. Ask the Lord to take over the education of your children. Ask Him what He wants you to do with each one of your children. It may involve very little curriculum. Or some children may do very well with workbooks and such and be well prepared for their future career or vocation that the Lord has called them to.
For some help with this line of thinking, you may want to check out Rhea Perry’s website:
Sarah Mackenzie from Amongst Lovely Things and Read-Aloud Revival from point #2 above has some good teaching about making sure that you keep a balance between negligence or possibly laziness and anxiety (trying to do too much and stressing about it).
She is correct in her assessment. I agree with her, and I know it is something I have to constantly reassess in my own life. Each day I need to look at this and make adjustments where necessary. I tend to have an ebb and flow in my life. I will do nothing for a while. Then I will wake up and try to do everything under the sun all at one time. Sometimes it is not very balanced, and I know that can be extra hard on certain ones of my children.
So we need to check with the Lord each day for our daily assignment, ask for His help to complete it, and stay in touch with Him all day long so that we are doing it His way.
For more information on these topics you may be interested in reading
books by Sally Clarkson or by Charlotte Mason (or books about her methods) and books by Diana Waring.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist who bases her research, clinical practice and teachings on biblical principles, says that the mind can change the brain. Through scientific research she has found that –
“Thoughts are real things that occupy mental real estate. You are as intelligent as you want to be! As we are thinking, we are choosing and are building thoughts inside our brain.
Learning is a process of building thoughts inside of your brain.”
Applying this to our lives and relationships, she says that:
“The truth of the matter is that you cannot control the events and circumstances of your life, but you can control your reactions to those events and circumstances.”
So we should change our way of thinking and be nice to our brains. And build better brains. When we think incorrectly, we actually do brain damage!
And we make our body sick. Stress causes disease, and thinking wrongly produces stress.
We are wired for love. We have to learn fear.
Instead of letting your mind do these things:
-Shaking your fist at God about your situation
-Being angry at your husband
-Being frustrated at your children
-Being angry at someone for what they said about you or did to you
-Be thankful for what God has done for us
-Think on the Word
-Dwell on God’s promises
-Take our thoughts captive
You choose what to think about. You choose where to direct your attention.
-~- So what do you choose to think about?-~-
~ Do you think about the Word?
~ Do you dwell on negative, hurtful things that have been done to you?
~ Do you think about how bad things are in the world?
Watch this video and hear what Dr. Caroline Leaf has to say about how to rewire your brain by not thinking toxic thoughts. You can even change your genes by thinking correctly!!!