Cheering On Their LearningPosted: March 10, 2014
The other day, I saw a picture of a very little girl stooped over her school work, crying desperate tears. I couldn’t even bear to read the article (though I think it was something about Common Core) because I couldn’t get the heart breaking image of that little one out of my head.
No little one should have to feel overwhelmed, lost or somehow not as smart when it comes to learning.
I’m not here to blame public school or any format or institution. The fact is, it can happen in any classroom and in any home. Maybe the material is confusing. Maybe the teacher is favoring one learning style over another. Maybe expectations are too high or the child just needs a few more months to be developmentally ready.
But what I really asked myself when I saw that picture was, “Do I ever make my kids feel that way?”
Because there are days when I’m impatient or distracted. Days when I’ve explained the same thing for the millionth time. There are moments when we reach a wall and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to explain something in any other way.
And on those days I wonder if I have ever frustrated my kids. Made them feel overwhelmed or stupid. If I’m really honest with myself, and you, I’d have to say it’s happened more than I’d like to admit. I think I’ve become a little more laid back and patient with the process over the years. With seven years under my belt I know that there will be days when things don’t come easily. But I know there will also be days when they have great ah-ha moments and everything clicks.
It was all a good reminder to me. Because learning shouldn’t be about all the things you don’t know. We shouldn’t hold this mountain of “skills to master” over our children’s heads. As if somehow they haven’t arrived until they reach a certain point. Or that what they’ve learned so far isn’t wonderful and worthwhile and worthy of praise.
I constantly have to remind my type A self that the goal of my children’s education is not test scores or scholarships or crossing off some random government mandated list. Education is about learning. Discovery. Wonder. It’s about teaching them how to read and communicate, investigate and think, explore and experiment–so that the learning doesn’t stop after high school or college. But that they are well equipped to keep on learning and growing and delighting in all the wonders that God has made.
And along the way, my job is to present, explain, help them practice and cheer them on. Not to dwell on the hurdles or remind them of what they got wrong. Yes, we correct our mistakes and try to do better next time. But if I’m not careful, my rhetoric becomes more of the negative kind.
To that end, I’ve been making it a point to notice all the victories, large and small, in our homeschooling.
- Ella’s reading. Man, is that kid reading! Anything and everything she can find. She loves words. Reading, writing, spelling. It’s totally unexpected, since she’s the least verbal of the three.
- Abby has read so many books this school year that I had to print another reading log for her. She’s a self proclaimed book worm and proud of it.
- Wyatt’s history. He’s studying American History this year and I think his curriculum is rather challenging. Lots to remember and keep straight. But he’s doing a great job, and with little help from me.
There’s other things I can think of, now that I’ve got myself going. But the point is, if I can remember the good and be thankful, then I can remember to give them appropriate praise and encouragement. I can cheer them on when the topic is tough.
I can make good and sure that they know they are bright, capable and fearfully and wonderfully made.
Because every child is uniquely made by God and equipped by Him with special talents and gifts. And just because they can’t bubble in a test, or fit into a “one size fits all” program, doesn’t mean they aren’t learning.
It just means we aren’t opening our eyes to what they are and will learn. They just need someone to believe in them.