Teachable Moments

While homeschooling, I seized opportunities to make connections between academic learning and everyday life. I referred to these chances as “teachable moments.”

After graduating, one son participated in a panel discussion with other homeschool graduates. I did not attend so my son could speak freely. The next day, a mom said every student complained about school never ending.

Why did movies, news accounts, neighborhood events—almost anything—that related to a former or current school topic have to be discussed from a learning point of view?

A few weeks later, I reviewed the portfolio of a frustrated homeschool mom. After teaching her daughters about the fall of communism, Gorbachev was mentioned on the national news. “Wouldn’t any teacher want to connect current news to a history lesson?” she asked. “Why did the discussion make my daughters angry?”

Along the way, I learned that homeschooled students disliked and dreaded the “teachable moments” we parents loved and seized. I wish I had known to be more discerning about applying academic lessons.

How do you decide whether to ignore or seize a teachable moment?

Art, Book Recommendations, Homeschooling

Art Responders

“No, Benjamin can’t be in my art class,” I said.

The six-year-old was known for his extremely bad behavior. Not only was the class already crowded, but also he was younger than the average student. Most importantly, I had volunteered to teach, not wrangle with a difficult child.

The next time I saw his mother, she was cool. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“You didn’t give my son a chance. You wrote him off.”

I was convicted. “You’re right. He can come.”

And he did. He behaved. He responded. He was transformed. I was amazed.

Another year, in another art class, another child had a bad reputation. His mother—who was in charge—assigned him to my class because she had “Nowhere else to stick him.”

He participated well. At the end of the semester, I took my students to the National Gallery of Art to see the works we had studied. He begged to go. His mother said, “No.” My class was “Just a place to keep him out of trouble.” It had. Marvelously.

My favorite resource.

Two examples are not scientific research, but other art teachers confirmed my experiences.

Have you witnessed a child responding to art?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Parenting After Mile 20

Although marathons are 26.2 miles, experienced marathoners know that the real race begins at mile 20. Until then, runners are surviving to reach the true start line. Early success does not predict winners because marathons are won or lost in the last 6.2 miles.

Too late, I learned that the parenting marathon is the same. The early years are surviving until the real race begins—adolescence.

Why? Research shows there is less memory retention before age ten. Our children are not sustained by the relationship memories parents made during the early years.

Second, our children’s brains change at puberty. What they need from us changes radically. Previous parenting methods are ineffective for the years our children will vividly remember.

Unfortunately, both parents and marathoners are exhausted—and sometimes injured—during the crucial miles. Runners know they have another grueling 6.2 miles. We parents may falsely assume the outcome is determined by the time we reach mile 20. We call victory or defeat too early. (See Here)

Experienced marathoners have a strategy for the hardest, ending miles. I wish I had known to prepare mine.

Boston qualified with a new strategy

May you have wisdom as you run your parenting marathon.

Homeschooling, Parenting

Calling the Race Too Soon

When Ester Ledecka won the gold medal in alpine skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, sportscasters were embarrassed. Why? With almost an hour left in the competition, Anna Veith was assumed to be the winner. Live coverage shifted to another Olympic venue while Veith’s fans celebrated. One commentator declared, “Baring something exceptional, Anna Veith has defended her gold.”

But something exceptional did happen. Ledecka, who ranked 43rd in World Cup standing for alpine skiing, defeated Veith—without the world watching. Ledecka also made Olympic history by winning two golds at the same Olympics using different equipment.

It was fun to watch the after-the-fact Olympic coverage. However, it wasn’t fun when my friends and I called the race too soon with our children.

We became complacent, assuming the best about our children who excelled— according to our standards. We become anxious, assuming the worst about our children who struggled. Both early calls prevented my friends and me from successfully parenting to the finish line of adulthood.

Our unexpected “wins” were sweet, but our unexpected “losses” were more bitter than slipping into second place or even off an Olympic podium.

Staying until the end of the race?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Forgive Them

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV

At some point, we must acknowledge any grievances we have against our children and forgive them.

Forgive them for grumbling.

Forgive them for not trying.

Forgive them for not finishing their work.

Forgive them for forgetting what you thought they had mastered.

Forgive them for not practicing after begging for expensive music or art or dance or whatever lessons.

Forgive them for not liking the curriculum you took weeks to select.

Forgive them for not being independent learners—as if that was their fault.

Forgive them for not meeting the advertised parenting or homeschool expectations—as if that was their fault as well.

Forgive them for not being kind to their siblings.

Forgive them for wishing they had different parents.

Forgive them for all the other things you once held and might still hold against them.

At some point you pardon the people in your family for being stuck together in all their weirdness and when you can do that, you can learn to pardon anyone.

Anne Lamott