As I drove home from dropping my oldest son off at youth group, I used the quiet time to pray for God to show me how to homeschool my daughter. This girl is our bouncy, talkative, middle child who cannot stop doing cartwheels or singing. She’s picked out her own clothes to wear since she was 3, and consistently converses with the cashiers at Walmart.
She is the cutest ladybug in the world to me and has a heart of gold and a bed of blankets for any lost puppy on the block. She thinks outside of the box, beyond the horizon and often in Odyssey, thanks to Focus on the Family.
The trouble with this kind of thinking is it’s too big to fit in a classroom or on a math page. She sees pictures instead of the letters that make up words, so phonics was horrendous. Memorizing math facts doesn’t stick unless there’s movement involved and reading a science book filled with “amazing facts” might as well be in Latin.
“There’s just a bunch of words on a page that don’t mean anything to me,” she says as she falls out of the chair and completes a cartwheel.
Even with all the joy and excitement in her spirit, under my roof, we butt heads. Somehow my instructions get all jumbled up in her translation and she interprets something completely different than what I think I’m saying.
So last night, I was praying for God to show me how to teach this amazing, outside-the-box thinker that He gave me. I desire for learning to be a pleasant experience–not a stressful one.
“How do I speak her language?” I prayed.
The next morning while I was reading and praying before the kids woke up, the Lord revealed to me that academic achievement is not the most important thing to Him. When I meet Him face to face, He is not going to ask me about my daughter’s math scores. He is most concerned with her character. Does she know Jesus? Is she learning about who He is and how He communicates with her personally? Does she know His truth and understand how it applies to her life? What gifts and talents has God given her? How can we discover, refine and equip her to use those gifts for His glory? It may mean studying those math facts more, but not merely to pass a test. It’s to use her knowledge to be who she’s made to be and glorify the One who made her.
That’s a brand new perspective for me!
So that morning, I left my quiet time and decided to do a devotion with her instead of her doing it by herself. At first I felt guilty that I didn’t have a packaged, flashy, Girl’s Devotional, but I decided to start with what I had. She’s been reading the One Year Bible for Kids, so I just had her read aloud the passage for that day. After she read, I didn’t have any great questions or a craft project queued up, so I just asked her to retell the parable to me in her own words.
The story was the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. With great passion and excitement, she retold the story to me, paying close attention to include every detail. I was super impressed with what she came away with!
Then, she got up and told me to “stay right there.” She leapt off the bed (almost doing a cartwheel) and inserted a CD into her CD player. She told me she had an Adventures in Odyssey that acted out the parable and I had to listen to it! With no other choice, I sat there on her bed, pretending I’d never heard the CD before. The look of joy on her face was like I had invited her best friend over for the day.
When it was over, we again discussed more of the story and what different people and events symbolized and I asked her some questions…
Why didn’t the person at the end wear the wedding garments that were provided?
He didn’t want to. He thought what he had on was fine.
What happened as a result?
He was thrown out.
What do the wedding garments symbolize?
That Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and is our ticket to the feast!
I value that conversation with her and I don’t think she will soon forget it. I spent 45 minutes of our day just in her room joining her in what she loves to do, and in the process, God showed me how to connect to her heart.
Conversations like this do take time—time I often feel I don’t have because I have so much to do. My daughter didn’t get to her history reading that day, but we were able to make it up another day that week, something I may not have been able to do with that conversation.
I’m so thankful I don’t have to homeschool alone, but I have a God who sees me and answers my prayer when I bring my troubles to Him.