Many teachers and parents know intuitively about teaching to the heart. This is probably a major reason that homeschoolers do so well. In academic tests, the homeschool children on average score well above the national average, and it doesn’t matter whether their parents are trained teachers, college graduates, high school graduates only, or anything in between. Some school teachers-turned-homeschoolers say they have to unlearn most of what they learned about teaching. Homeschooling is largely heart to heart. The methods and even the curriculum do not matter nearly as much as the relationship between child and parent.
Ruth Beechick, Heart & Mind: What the Bible Says About Learning
Here are a few ideas for keeping a heart focus in our homeschools:
Seek God’s Heart
We are on a mission. These children we have been blessed with do not come as blank slates on which to etch ourselves, nor are they made of pliable gumby-like material that we can form, stretch, or mold. But we are directed to direct. God knows our children. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. And most importantly, He knew these children before they were born, and has formed them for a purpose before we knew them. He already has this figured out — and all we have to do is listen, seek His will, hear Him, and step forward knowing we are working out His interests (not our own self-interests) and His best for His children.
Seek Your Child’s Heart
Relationships take time, but it is through those relationships that we can reach the heart of our children. Yes, it takes less time to say, “because I said so,” than it does to bring our children along with us. It is easier to mete discipline by the letter rather than by the heart. But by seeking our child’s heart, we emulate their Father to whom they are ultimately accountable.
Teach by Heart
Textbooks, schedules, exams, and other school-like trappings have their place; but they can also seriously undermine the heart of our mentoring if they take precedence. If our homeschools can be reduced to a series of checklists or a pile of completed workbooks, what have we really accomplished? What have we imparted? How have we defined learning for our children? On the other hand, if we read together, talk together, play together, investigate together, and encourage our children to pursue their interests — to draw, to create, to research, to thrive — we will have practiced the art of homeschooling!
Do Not Lose Heart
Despite all of our heartfelt efforts, not all days will be heart-happy. We can expect there to be days when we don’t feel we can hear God; when our relationships with our children suffer through conflict or strife or merely lack of time; we can run into tutoring difficulties, burnout, frustration, and failures. We can expect trials to come our way — to test us, to grow us, and to conform us into His image. Remember there are all kinds of learning! And the road to success is all about process — despite our focus on the ultimate destination. Don’t grow weary. We know there is a reward if we do not lose heart.