By Ashley Vaughan
Who wouldn’t want an easy, stress-free homeschooling experience? One where the students wake up every morning, eagerly get dressed and rush downstairs, and sit in their chairs without fussing, just begging for you to share some new tidbits of knowledge and expand their world in grand and marvelous ways.
Sounds like a pipe dream, huh?
While it’s true that a perfect homeschooling experience doesn’t exist — every family has days where getting anything done is harder than pulling teeth — there are some things we can do to help smooth the path of learning.
One of these ways of smoothing the path is by instilling a love of learning in your children.
You’ve probably heard this rather unhelpful, vague statement in the past. And if you’re anything like me, you’re tempted to think, “Great! But *how* do you do that? What does that look like on a Tuesday morning?” Don’t worry. My goal is to give you something practical to try at home.
A Different Perspective
First, it might be helpful to understand it from your child’s point of view. Every time a child learns something new, they are being asked to move outside of their comfort zone. They were safe in the confines of their current base of knowledge, like being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket. But instead of staying where it’s comfortable, we are asking them to step out, risk failure, and learn something new. (And I wager, the more your child struggles to learn, the greater their fear of risking failure will likely be.)
But how can we help our kids have the courage to take risks and enjoy learning (and sometimes failing)? A huge way to accomplish this is through modeling this attitude in your own life.
Caught Not Taught
It has been said that a lot of character and family values are “caught rather than taught.” It’s well documented that children, especially young children, are like sponges — picking up and mimicking every word, action, and behavior from those they spend the most time with. (How many times has one of your kids said a word or phrase, and you’ve wondered, “Where did they get that from?” … And then you realize it’s a word or phrase you or your spouse says all the time.)
From what I’ve observed, this concept of “caught not taught” is also true in the realm of instilling a love of learning. So, the question is, how are you modeling a love of learning? What does that look like in real life? Essentially, when you, Mom or Dad, are faced with a new learning opportunity, how do you react?
When you need to learn to use a computer (or other technology) for taxes, paying bills, filling out records, etc., do you grumble and complain? Or worse, do you say, “I can’t/won’t learn that?” Or do you roll up your sleeves, step outside your comfort zone, and do your best (even though you might fail initially)?
Then, when you learn a new fact or learn to do something new, are you jazzed and excited to tell others what you’ve learned? (Why does show and tell have to only be for little kids?) What if when Dad asks the children at the supper table what they learned in school that day, Dad and Mom also share something they learned?
Do your kids ever find you reading, or trying new things or experiences?
And, most importantly, do they see in you a hunger for the Word of God, and an unquenchable desire to know God more?
The truth is, none of us are perfect. And we’re not going to perfectly model a love for learning, any more than our kids will be perfect angels and a breeze to teach all the time. That’s where the Gospel message of Jesus Christ comes in.
Grace is unearned favor in the face of our mistakes, failures, and sin. There are many ways we fall short (or outright sin) in our parenting. But God promises that He is able to redeem even the worst of our mistakes.
Yet, what an opportunity to also model humility and repentance to your children? Admitting that you fear failure too, and don’t like going outside your comfort zone, and have failed to model a courage that learns? And then step out alongside your children and seek a love of learning and pushing yourselves to brave new things together?
I think that sounds like a beautiful picture. Lord, give us Your grace toward this end.