There was screaming, crying, and tears. Lots and lots of tears. There were adamant declarations of “I will not do this! I will never do this!” And then the questions, “Why are you making me do this? Why do I need to do this?” And then the pleading, “Please don’t make me do this! I just can’t do this!” And I’ve not heard these things once – no, I’ve heard them many times over the years. You may be asking what situation I’m speaking of that could evoke such drama, such strong feelings of dread. Or maybe you’re wondering who these pleas came from. Any homeschooling family can probably tell you that these are the scenes that occur everyday, or at least every second day, while you have preschoolers who you are encouraging to learn new things.
The greatest battle I fought in this arena was the one with my eldest son on the journey to independent reading. He bucked me at every turn, even pulling the, “Mom you’re such a good reader, why should I learn when you do it so well!” and trying to convince his brother, two years his junior, that it would be great if could just be the early reader of the family. Every day began with Battle Royale over Sing Spell Read and Write, so much so that I almost considered giving in to his pleas and letting him be illiterate for a while longer.
Imagine my delight when my second loved reading, however, it quickly faded when I discovered we would endure the same battle, only with math. And then our next son was so active every subject was like gym class, and finally here I am again in the middle of teaching our final child the importance of the English language. This time I’m worrying less about it because I realize that eventually my boys actually did learn to read. And add. And subtract. And dissect a sentence. And they learned many other things that they flat out refused to attempt in the early days of homeschooling.
One thing that was consistent in all of them was the unique ways each of them learned. They didn’t all fit in the same box. They didn’t all learn at the same rate, or enjoy the same things. The education game has been different with each child and each passing day. I quickly learned that forcing them all into the same box wasn’t going to work and would leave us feeling frustrated, and what’s worse, leaving them feeling like they couldn’t do it. Expecting the same from all of them was not realistic. How could my seven year old be expected to understand things the same way my 16 year old does? She hasn’t the experience in life that he does. In the same way, I can’t expect him to be able to make life decisions the way I can, I have much more life experience than he does.
Life is a journey, we’re all learning, we’re all in different stages of the process. Like children learning new things in school, we all learn at different rates, through different circumstances, and God knows which ones will help each of grow. He understands our unique learning styles and knows how to nurture us each in the ways that will shape us into mature believers. I’ve found myself feeling discouraged because people around me seem to be more spiritual, they seem to understand more or have more insight. Feeling disqualified because they seem to have it all together and I don’t feel like I ever will. That’s not how God sees any of us though, He sees us as beautiful works of art. He adds to the picture as we walk along, as we grow the picture changes.
Just as my kids learned what they needed to at appropriate times in their lives, we will as well as long we submit to His leading. He’s a good and patient Father, one who loves us and desires to see us move on to maturity. I know how exciting it is when a child gets a new concept, and I can just know that Father God is excited when we learn something new. He’s cheering us on, encouraging us to try one more time, to ask for His help, to submit to His will. So many times I find myself with same attitude my children had – it’s too hard, I’ll never be able to do that, please don’t make me go that way- and each time I hear Him say, “You can do it!” “I’m right here with you!” “I’m pleased with you!”