One type of education does not fit all. Our kids are unique. They all have different learning styles, different interests, different strengths and different weaknesses. So why do we think that we can give them all the same education and have it work? Why would we even want to do this?
Here are some reasons we might be tempted to try giving our kids a one size fits all education:
- That’s the kind of education we received and it feels comfortable
- We want to do “school at home” to be sure our kids are able to get into college
- We’ve already purchased a curriculum and it worked for our older kids
- We don’t know any better
- We aren’t sure how we could teach all of our kids different things with a finite number of hours in each day
As you can see, there are some valid reasons for why parents begin educating kids in this manner. It’s easy to do. You begin using a curriculum with your kids and you think everything is going along fine… until suddenly the kids start making faces and seem like they’d rather do just about anything than to have to do their schoolwork.
Have you ever heard your sons say, “This is stupid! I’ll never use this?!?!“
This happened with us recently. My goal has always been to help my boys love learning. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to craft their lessons so that they would be inspirational as well as educational. As they’ve gotten older, however, this has become more difficult.
Neither of my boys enjoys math at all. In fact, they actually hate it. They think it’s a complete waste of time. One of my sons is pretty good at math and is actually ahead of where he would be if he were in public school. The other son is probably behind where he would be.
The farther this son “fell behind,” the more pressure I felt to try to get him “caught up.”
After all, everywhere you look there are experts telling us how important it is for our kids to excel in the STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.) And math isn’t a subject you can get away with skipping completely, no matter how badly you or your child might want to.
So, my husband and I devised a scheme to try to get our son farther ahead in math. We started having him do math every day all year round. Yes, doing math seems to be torture for this boy – but we were trying to help him to get better so we felt we needed to really push him in this area. Every day, schoolwork became hard because as soon as this son had to do his math lesson, he was upset.
Should we focus on improving our weaknesses or our strengths?
Then, I heard a podcast by Michael Hyatt, a leadership and productivity expert. The podcast was called “Operating in your Strengths Zone.” In the podcast, he tells the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, which was portrayed in the movie “Rudy” back in 1993. You may have seen the movie; but, just in case you haven’t, it basically tells the story of a guy named Rudy who desperately wants to play football for Notre Dame.
Long story short, Rudy works hard to try to overcome his low grades and his lack of football talent. At the end of the movie, Rudy is able to go on the field for one play and he is thrilled. I watched that movie myself when it came out and viewed it as a super inspirational movie.
Michael Hyatt’s take on it, however, was that Rudy had put a tremendous amount of effort into trying to overcome his shortcomings and that he was only able to have limited success.
He said that if he had worked that hard improving his strengths, it would have made a much greater difference in his life and in the life of others.
Michael quoted Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton’s bestseller, Now, Discover Your Strengths, with this amazing statement:
“No matter how hard you try, you really can’t improve your weaknesses. You are wasting time and energy trying to do so. The best thing you can do is discover your strengths and then find a role that allows you to use them.”
Wow! When I heard that, it blew me away. Why were we focusing so hard on my son’s weakness in math when we should instead be focusing on his strengths?!? Like I said before, we can’t just ditch math. But we didn’t have to put such an inordinate emphasis on it.
Since that time, we have switched things up. Our sons are doing math 3 days a week rather than every day. We are learning logic with them on the off days, which is something they both enjoy! They have also been able to spend more time learning speaking skills, computer skills, and entrepreneurial skills with the time we’ve freed up.
When we focus on teaching our sons things that they enjoy, they aren’t going to feel like they’re wasting their time learning things they will never use.
4 Questions We Should Be Asking
We need to spend the majority of our time teaching our kids with the following in mind:
- What are their interests?
- What is their learning style?
- What are their strengths?
- How do you need to prepare them for careers you could actually see them doing?
Tricia Goyer wrote a wonderful post called “Why Your Older Kids Fight Your Teaching… and How to Fix That.”
In it, she lists three questions that I think are vital for us to ask if we’re going to provide our kids with the best type of education for them:
- If there were no “standards” for your child to follow what would he or she enjoy learning?
- What would be an effective way to get your child more excited about learning?
- What could you do to draw your child’s heart toward God?
I love those questions.
What would you teach if there were no standards?
We need to think about these questions when we are developing a plan for our homeschools so that we will be preparing our sons for what God has in store for their lives – rather than trying to give them a Plain Jane, one size fits all education which will destroy their love for learning.
My son will never be a mathematician or anything which forces him to use large amounts of math every day. But he will have more time to discover what he’s really good at now that we aren’t forcing him to focus on a subject which confounds him quite so much.
We need to try to ignite our kids’ passions rather than dull their senses by trying to pack their brains full of meaningless facts and figures. Give your son an education which is tailor-made for him and you won’t hear him complaining anymore that he’ll never use what he’s learning.
Question: What have you changed up in your homeschool which has made a difference for your kids? Do you have any tips you can share that have helped your children to be excited about learning? Please leave a comment below.