I have a firstborn who is a chip off the ole block and nearly drives himself silly trying to perform in perfection.
I have had a rough time trying to get this child to relax and see all the different ways there are to learn in our amazing world. His idea of "school" is traditional, and that is largely my fault. I taught him how I was taught and thought that was the right way. Thank God my eyes and mind were opened to a different idea because Alex (the second born) is NOT a traditional kinda boy! He doesn't retain much of anything sitting still at a desk, but give the child something to squish in his hand or let him hang upside down off the couch, and he can reiterate the lesson right back!
My goals for my children's education have changed dramatically in seven years. I no longer strive to meet state standards the same way I did. I have really come to the conclusion that if my children know how to read well, think critically, love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, love others as they love themselves, and know how to hear the voice of God and follow Him...THEN I have been successful in training them.
Every year, God shows me more of HIS idea of "school." Recently, I gave Garrison a student planner. I showed him what goals I hoped he could accomplish this year for "standard education." I gave him until August to complete these goals. I gave him the freedom to arrange his assignments any way he wants to get them finished.
He literally cried at first because he didn't know how to function under that kind of freedom. It was almost comical because he proved the points God was putting on my heart.
When we set forth a bunch of rules without giving people a voice about their own life, we immediately create strife. If we can humble ourselves, ask for their input, opinions, and ideas, we help them "own" their life. We help them gain confidence that they CAN think, plan, hear from God, and walk out a successful journey.
God began to show me why so many kids have trouble when they are teens. For years, they have parents or adults standing over them saying do this at this time and don't do this. Many times these children are not given any good reasons as to why these rules are being forced upon them. They learn to obey or reap punishment. The sad truth is that they are never trained to see a potential problem and come up with a good solution to avoid it! They find themselves in all kinds of predicaments and often become hiders, deceivers, and manipulators. This was never their parents' goal for them!
We wonder why when the rule enforcers are not present these children fall into trouble. They were not taught to think through what to do on their own. They had people to tell them! They often begin to look at peers and do what the peers suggest or do.
When these children get to college, we seem clueless as to why they nearly fall apart or resort to skipping classes and partying. But hey, partying and living carefree feels much better than having to hurt your brain and think!
We haven't set them up for success. We have set them up to fail by not training them in how to think and plan.
I realized that my 12 year old didn't have a clue how to set goals for himself because he was so used to momma doing it for him! Upon this realization however, we also didn't just send him away and tell him to figure it out. We said, "Son, if you feel you need help in learning how to prioritize and arrange your work, we are happy to share some ideas with you." Then, we sat back and waited for him to come to us.
He did. He came because he learned that we were willing, we would listen, we cared, and we wouldn't leave him or belittle him. He learned to humble himself and ask for our direction as his parents. He learned that he didn't know everything, he still needed us, but he learned in a safe way...without having to fall on his face in college!
For the last few years, my goal has been to teach my children to teach themselves. Even with my younger two, who both school at 4th grade level, I will not answer any questions until they have read through and tried on their own. I will introduce and teach a new concept, but I feel they need to try to problem-solve.
I want my sons to learn to think things through so that they are not blindly led astray by lies. If I don't train them while the stakes are small, what price might they have to pay as they grow?
*To learn more about self-teaching methods, check out this link:http://homeschoolenrichment.com/goodies/freedom.html
~My Sons...every single day I get to watch you conquer new territory. I absolutely treasure these days. Being a mother is the most amazing gift. As I have said before, I miss your yesterdays, I strive to cherish each of your present days, but how I look ahead with joy and excitement for your tomorrows. It's breathtaking and gut-wrenching to watch you and catch glimpses of the babies you used to be and the godly men you are becoming.