“Son, are you hearing me?” His voice filled with agitation, he gives a curt, positive response. I begin again only to find his eyes wandering out the window and his mind engaged in other activity. I gently ask him to repeat what I just said. He gives me back the words, but we both know… he’s hearing, but not receiving.
I do my best to keep our homeschool lessons short and sweet, especially for the younger of my children. Testing their patience is never pretty, and we want learning to be an engaging activity. Something our children love to do, and will continue long after I’m gone. No matter how good a teacher I think I am, there are going to be days when no matter what I do, my children are not going to receive what I’m offering. For one reason or another, they are hearing my words but not taking in wisdom and knowledge. Maybe it’s time I explore the reasons why.
Prayer – I can always tell when I’ve been slacking in my prayer life, tough as it is to admit. I become short-tempered and we start going through motions of doing school instead of actively using this as an opportunity to reach my children’s hearts for Christ. One of the reasons we might be having learning issues is because I need to repent of my disobedience and ask the Lord to meet my children where they are.
I am Over-Burdening Them – Another confession: In my desire to teach my children “everything”, I sometimes try to fit in everything. Now there’s a recipe for danger. Four active kids, too much book work, add an overabundance of lecturing and there you go. A bomb which leaves a hideous mess in its wake.
It’s All Just Words – How much is too much? I wish I knew. Some amount of lesson giving needs to take place. I wish I could say its only different for each child, but it’s not. It’s different for each child, each day of their lives. Some days are better than others. Some days all words fly right out the window and being out-of-doors is a fantastic idea.
They Have a Physical Need – This is a little easier to understand. Lack of sleep, food, water, exercise. There’s a physical reason which requires a physical response. If only all of life’s challenges were this simple.
This Is a Character Issue – Here is a tough one. This takes time, energy, care, and gentleness. This is when everything else stops – and should – so we can get to the bottom of the issue. Are my children experiencing a spiritual attack, or is this an act of laziness; worse, rebellion?
It’s Not What it Looks Like – I had visions of what learning would look like. Eager faces turned in my direction, excited answers and anticipation of lessons. Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, this happens sometimes. Sometimes. And that’s not a bad thing. Just because learning doesn’t always look as I imagined, doesn’t mean my kids aren’t learning. It just looks… different.
Turning Hearts, and Minds, is Not My Job – (This one thought deserves an entire blog post, which we might come back to later.) After all is said and done, I need to leave the issue – whatever it might be – at the feet of Christ. If I have done my part by praying over my children, changing learning to meet needs, dealt with physical and character issues, and more, the rest is up to Him. We only need be faithful in what God is calling us do. He will see His work is done.
As a parent and educator, my job isn’t to force my children to receive wisdom. That is impossible. It is my responsibility to lead my children to Christ, by example and deed, encouraging them and training them. It is my privilege to instruct and teach, continually stimulating growth. Reaching my children’s hearts and minds is God’s work.
When I become discouraged or distracted because it appears my children are not learning, may the Lord prompt me to pray and leave it at His feet. May He meet my children where they are; opening their hearts, minds, and ears to hear. May He soften them towards learning and grant me wisdom to teach as He would lead.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
~ I Corinthians 3:6-9
Your Turn!: What helps redirect learning when it appears your children are not receiving?