Lighten Up– it’s Not All About Academics

As the new school year is beginning, I know there will be many of you out there that will be struggling with teaching your 4 year old everything there is to know in one year or less…

That’s just the way it is with those of us with a school mindset.  We want our children to succeed, and to do it quickly. 

I want to encourage you to lighten up a little…

Our oldest child is 12.  We have been homeschooling her since she came home to us when she was 18 months old.  Boy have things changed since then.  I remember calling my mother in law when Princess was about 4 years old.  I had the magnetic board and letters out and was spelling 3 letter words and was expecting Princess to read them. She was not! I was getting frustrated.  I could not understand why she wouldn’t read these words. 

Why was I calling my mother in law?  She homeschooled my husband and his 2 siblings.  I needed HELP!   My dear mother in law reminded me that it was OK that Princess didn’t read those words.  She gently reminded me to lighten up.  Reading would come.  Math would come.   Science would come.  By now you get the picture. 

Over the years, I have seen parents that stress out over what their child isn’t learning.  What they need to learn, these ladies study the scope and sequence upside down and backwards.  One lady was so stressed out that she wasn’t going to teach her 4th grader everything she needed to know that year that she put her children back into the government school– and she was doing a GREAT job homeschooling!   I know people that follow the textbooks by the book.  That will not skip one thing for fear that their child isn’t going to have everything they need to succeed in life.  Others put their high school student in government school to prepare them for college (don’t even get me started on how wrong that one is!!!!). 

I have stressed out over Math with Princess.  We had some major battles when we first started, since her strong suit is NOT math.  Bubba (our nearly 9 year old boy)  is beginning to have some struggles with math.  And he IS good at it.  But we’ve decided that rather than push it, we’ll wait on formal math.   Oh, he’s still learning math, it’s just not as evident to him.  Right now Little Bit LOVES math, so he is still working in a book, but if he decided he’s frustrated with math, we’ll stop and approach it later. 

Here’s the funny  strange thing about this.  Princess is succeeding in math.  Last year, it clicked!  Where she used to miss nearly half the problems and have to redo them, she now misses maybe 2 or 3 each lesson.  And, she realized recently that she’s actually liking math. 

Then enters 3rd child.  Little Bit has been a great challenge.  He had a rough first 3 years of  his life and had some  birthmother issues that we had to work through.  His problem– he is TOO smart.  He could read, but he refused… I knew this because on his good days, he would do his reading lesson perfectly.  An hour, I mean a minute later, (and no I’m not exaggerating, we could go back to the same word and he would give me a blank stare.  Once I rediscovered "Hooked on Phonics" he read.  Mainly because I wasn’t teaching him.  Now he reads near or a little above grade level and he is letting me teach him. 

More and more I’m realizing that it’s not about the academics.  However, I have to constantly remind myself of this fact.  Little Bit did not need to learn to read, Princess didn’t need to learn a number line in 2nd grade.  Bubba doesn’t have to do math right now.   What good would reading have done Little Bit if he grew up to be an angry, angry man???  What good would math do Princess if she grew up not knowing how to cook, and clean or how to change a diaper? (Or for that fact, if my boys didn’t know how to do these things either?) What good would academics do Bubba if didn’t know how to take care of and relate to his future wife?  What good would it do any of my 4 children if they had a 4.0 grade point, scored a 36 on their ACT, graduated from Yale, or Harvard, or whatever Ivy league school if they had no God-honoring character???  I would much rather my children walk in the ways of the Lord and live a modest, honest life than have a PhD. and live in a mansion. 

I often have to remind myself that it’s not about academics–it’s about training them in Righteousness.  Training them to be productive members of society, so that they’ll be ready for whatever task God has for them in their future, whether it be a homemaker, a garbage collector, or president of the United States of America.

  I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been the best at working on this.  I push for perfection academics. I’ve gotten frustrated when my children have dawdled… it happened yesterday, as a matter of fact.  "What have you done today?! It’s 11am and you haven’t done anything but play all morning!!!! Your room is a wreck!!!!  Why haven’t you done your schoolwork????"

What I really need to be working on is what kind of character my 4 children are developing.  Are they kind, considerate, polite, loving, peaceful?  Do they complain, grumble, make jokes that aren’t nice?  Do they watch out for each other?  Are they serving others? Or are they serving self?

I don’t really think God is going to be asking our children to given an account of what their GPA was, what ivy league school they attended, what job they had when they grew up, etc.  on the day of judgement.  No, I think He’ll be asking them to give an account of their character.  That’s the meat of the issue.

Since this is a submission for the Carnival of Homeschooling, I will add this disclaimer.   I realize some of you reading this may not be Christians, but I doubt you want your child breezing his way through college by cheating his way through.  Character is important; whether you are a follower of Christ or not.  All it takes is a trip to the local high school to see teenagers running the school, or a trip downtown or the local mall to see the teenagers, or older, of today talking disrespectful to each other, wearing pants where they’ve got to hold up with their hands, or girls with everything they’ve got so far hanging out (and no, I’m not talkin about the prostitutes either).  So I hope we can agree whether we are Believers or not, that character is extremely important in the lives of our children. 

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One thought on “Lighten Up– it’s Not All About Academics

  1. What a wonderful post!

    I have two daughters that we brought home from public school three years ago. I wish we would have brought them home sooner! I used to their school and help the teacher. I would get so up set because I would see what they did all day and it was not Much.

    We finally brought them home and they are happier and we are happier. My oldest daughter is 14 and my youngest daughter is 11.

    I just wanted to be that small voice to say it is *Never* to late to bring your child home to homeschool them.

    My husbands brother is a school teacher and he homeschools his children he tried to warn us I just wish we would have listened!

    I also agree with not trying too hard to get your child to get it:) Every child learns in their own time. We have had to do a little un-schooling but right now my daughters are learning by leaps and bounds. Just keep your focus on God and I believe everything will slowly fall into place.

    Many Blessings,

    Renee

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