I’m a mom of six children. I’ve been homeschooling 18 years & have finally learned that it is best to coach your kids through homeschool rather than teach them by the book. I have three preschoolers so I have another 18 years of homeschooling to go!
Three of my children are adults. Cory is 23-years-old, married, and he and Katie have a baby boy and one on the way. He’s a working man and a caring husband and father. Leslie is 20 and will be graduating from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, next month.
She’s a stellar student who will be living in Europe as a missionary right out of college. Nathan is 19-years-old and a college freshman. After one semester of college he was asked to work as a writing coach in the university’s writing center. Even more important than how well they’re doing in life, my three older kids love God and have a deep, growing relationship with him.
We also have three more kids ages 5, 3, and 2 who’ve been added to our family through adoption. As a 41-year-old mom sometimes I’m overwhelmed with thinking of doing it ALL again, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to focus on one day at a time. And focus on one heart at a time.
I started off by telling you of my older kids’ successes in education and life because I want you to know it is possible. If you would have told me three years, five years, or seven years ago where my kids would end up I would have been relieved—but confused.
I often fought with my kids on getting their work done. They seemed unmotivated at times. Some (most?!) of their work was done half-heartedly, and there was one child who just could not “get” the read the book and answer the questions model.
There were many homeschooling days that I found myself in tears. I prayed for God to give me the answer, and when it came it wasn’t what I expected.“Throw out the lesson plans and stop trying to force learning. Look at each child individually. Focus on that child’s heart, and teach to that child.”
“But what about Geography and Geometry and all those other critical subjects?” I prayed (and fretted.) Still, God kept the answer that He spoke to my heart the same.
What did it look like? Truthfully, it looked completely different for each kid. I signed one up for co-op classes, one for some college classes, and one did hardly any traditional work at all. Trying to get my youngest son to answer a worksheet was futile, but I did discover he loved watching DVD courses of college lectures.
Except for some math and language computer programs, for three years this kid watched DVDs for homeschool—classes about history and science and notable people. And the he told me about what he learned.
He also like to write fictional stories on the side. Stories I never edited, never graded. Stories that were focused more on his imagination than on his education.
This child hadn’t written one essay at the time he started at our local university. Yet this was also the kid who got an A on every university paper he’s ever written and was asked to be an intern at the writing center as a Freshman.
Looking back, what God was asking me to do was to coach my children to grow into godly people who loved to learn. Looking back, I can see this is far more important that learning the periodic table—but at the time I was so overwhelmed and stressed that all I focused on was what my kids weren’t learning.
Why are your older kids fighting your teaching?
- It doesn’t fit their style.
- It doesn’t fit their interests.
- You’re more focused on the lesson plan than him (or her).
- You are comparing him to others—other students, other siblings.
- You are thinking of this semester—this year—instead of who God designed your child to be and God’s plan for his life.
- You’re more focused on preparation for the SATs, ACTs and other acronyms than preparation for your child to follow the great commission.
- You see yourself as a teacher more than a coach.
I know this list because I lived it. I know this list because I’ve fought against it!
Recently, I was able to write more about coaching our kids in a book that I co-wrote with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Here is a short excerpt from Lead Your Family Like Jesus:
How Jesus Was Coached
There was nothing random in the life of Jesus. This includes learning the carpenter craft from His earthly father in preparation for His season of earthly leadership.
It’s interesting to note that when Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, people quickly identified him as “the carpenter” and “the son of the carpenter.” The unremarkable nature of His local reputation would indicate that the way He learned and went about His craft wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Joseph would have coached Jesus through the stages of learning. Under the instruction of his father, Jesus would have progressed from novice to apprentice to journeyman, and finally to master teacher. Through the day-to-day coaching, the transfer of knowledge and wisdom flowed from one generation to the next.
When Jesus was a novice, Joseph would have given Him basic orientation to being a carpenter—including how, where, when, and why He was to do certain things. As Jesus worked with Joseph as an apprentice, Joseph would have acted as a performance coach, showing Him the right way to do things to produce the right results. Joseph would have given Jesus instruction, observed His behavior, provided support and encouragement, and redirected Him as necessary in the tasks assigned.
When Jesus was a journeyman, able to work on his own, Joseph would have assigned Him tasks and then would have become His head cheerleader and supporter. When Jesus became a master teacher, demonstrating His competence in all the key aspects of His craft, Joseph would have changed his leadership to empower Him and send Him out to work on His own.
It’s reasonable to assume that Jesus mastered the craft of carpentry. Had it been God’s will for Him to teach it others, He would have done so in obedience and excellence.
What we do know is that Jesus applied His knowledge of obedience to the way He guided His disciples from call to commission. From novices to master teachers, Jesus coached them and sent them out to teach others in His name. It’s an example we parents would do well to follow.
Are you struggling with feeling that you’re lacking in productive teaching time with your kids while there is so much that they need to know and learn? If so, then answer these three questions:
1. If there were no “standards” for your child to follow what would he or she enjoy learning?
2. What would be an effective way to get your child more excited about learning?
3. What could you do to draw your child’s heart toward God?
For each child the answers will be different, which means turning to God and learning better who your child is. God created each of us unique for His purposes. How exciting that He’s trusted you to coach your child toward that call!
Read more of Tricia Goyer’s parenting advice in her article What the Bible Says About Excuses.