I love teaching my kids. A few days ago, I got into a conversation with a Ugandan man about teaching my kids. He kept wanting to know if I thought my kids would eventually "catch up" to their peers when I moved back to America and put them back into government school. *smile* In a country where home schooling is virtually unheard of, I wasn't surprised (or offended) by his questions at all. In the back of my head though, I kept thinking to myself...
The academics are the easy part...
It's my constant attempts to soften their hearts and bring their hearts into submission to the Lord that's hard!
You see, I really believe that no effective academic learning can happen, until my kids' hearts are in cheerful submission to me. This means that ultimately they have to be submitting to the Lord in order to learn well.
So during their first few years of school especially, I have to make a patient and prayerful pursuit of their hearts...not just their math facts or letters. If their hearts are with me and willing to cheerfully obey, the learning will happen. If not, what is difficult in and of its self, becomes almost impossible.
There are three things that come to my mind tonight that help in this heart training. First, it is so important for me to remember that heart training isn't an extra that happens on the side on bad days when my kids went to bed too late the night before. Heart training is a goal of our school. It is something to work towards every day. If I can remember this continually, I won't get so frustrated when I see a bad attitude creep up. Instead of seeing the bad attitude as merely an interruption to the "important business," I can see it as an opportunity to pursue something that I have set out as a goal of our time together.
Second, working to instill academic confidence into my children, helps them to trust me with their hearts. It is easy, as a home school mom, to set the bar too high, too soon. It's easy to get into a difficult concept and not back off, despite the child's obvious frustration with it. It's easy to exasperate them while trying to do a good thing. It takes so much wisdom to know how hard to push a child through difficult work. Most kids are naturally lazy at things they don't necessarily care to learn and will often put up a fuss just because they don't want to put the effort into it. But some things are genuinely too difficult for them and the fuss is legit! I find, that it's so important to give praise and encouragement for things they are doing well and assurance when they genuinely need to back off for a time on things they struggle with and a good firm hand to push them through the laziness! Wowsas....it's tough! And I don't always succeed. But over the years of patiently pursing this balancing act, they grow to trust me more as their teacher and I become less of a stumbling block towards sinful attitudes.
Third, I must remember that God is refining my heart just as much as my children's in all of this. Sanctification is for us all. No discipline is ever pleasant, but it does yield an abundant harvest of righteousness. It is a kindness of God to use our little home school to pull the dross off of my heart and replace it with joy found only in the person of Christ. Through this process he is forming me into a mother whom my children will call blessed...not because I was a great mom or I taught them every thing they needed to know for college, not because I never exasperated them or I always pushed them just the right amount when they were being lazy, (I fail all the time and my children know it!) but because God is working in my heart and is replacing my flesh with Himself and when they see Him in me, they will be able to say, "She is blessed."
Yes, today's post comes at the end of a long day of school that had tears involved for many of the above reasons. But God is always faithful to us and his mercies (including that cup of morning coffee!) are new every morning.
What about you? What do you find that helps to get your kids hearts ready to learn? Anyone else find the balancing act difficult?