Heart Teaching

I sat in the kitchen in disbelief.

How many times had I already explained certain concepts? Over and over and over. And still, the problem was answered wrong. Frustration ensued. In me, and in the kids, and very quickly any possible real learning was now lost. I closed the book and declared a break.

As I wandered up to my room, feeling irritated, defeated, and annoyed I began to realize something about my teaching. I asked myself some questions.

Was I just teaching so that they’d put the right answers?

Was I just teaching to get to the next page in the planner?

Was I just teaching so that I felt good that they’re smart?

Heart teaching modified

Then it hit me.  It wasn’t about smart. Or checking off a page. Or not listening. I don’t think that child of mine believed in themselves and that they would ever do well in this part of this subject. And that lack of confidence trickled down to concepts needing to be taught over and over and over. Then, in a double-bind, the very failing to grasp a concept cemented the idea in their head that they would never get it.

I knew I needed to be more concerned with their heart and core beliefs about learning and self versus seeing them get the right answer.

That means throwing out the lesson plans, moving at a different pace, and learning different. Radical, perhaps. We motivate through checklists and agendas and schedules — what if instead it was about building up of confidence?

I was pushing so much and was irritated that they weren’t conforming to the pattern of knowledge that I, and that the world, dictated that they know at a certain point. In that frenzy to obtain knowledge there became this disconnect between education and the heart. It became dry, rote, and painful.

Instead of building up, it discouraged.

You don’t know this, you did this wrong, how come you haven’t memorized this, haven’t I told you that a dozen times already, red marks, frustration.

No more.

I’m changing how I teach. I’m going to look at my children at the areas where there’s a struggle and get to the root of it. And more often than not, it will probably come down to a belief in self that is blocking the understanding. Instead of pushing the answer, what would happen if I nurtured the heart? We can still work for the same goals — but the actual act of learning would trump any mark on the page.

I have a feeling we’ll learn more.

I believe in them. It’s time for me to show it.

Rachel lives in the half-a-year frozen land of Minnesota. She’s a Christian home schooling momma to seven fabulous kids, and is the wife to an amazing cancer-surviving husband. In January 2011 her youngest son, Samuel, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease so you’ll also find her passionate about gluten free living and Celiac Disease awareness. Between home schooling, blogging, running her family, and, of course, drinking coffee, you’ll also find her driving her girls to classical ballet or her boys to soccer. She’s passionate about seeking joy and living a faith filled, intentional life. You can find Rachel blogging at Finding Joy

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  1. I wrote something very similar about something that my son and I went through one day and at the end of my post I wrote after some tears(my own), I got the lesson that day in patiences and humility.. Sometimes its not us teaching them but WE are learning…
    No one is perfect and as long as we can express that to our children, that EVERYONE, including mom and dad make mistakes, but together we can figure this out…
    Beautiful story, I appreciate the honesty of the moment, because we have all been there..

  2. This was me a few months ago. This almost brought me to tears. Now we are unschooling. My kids are finding joy in learning again!!! Thanks for your honesty.

  3. I love this! I had a similar light bulb moment with my 1st graders reading progress. I finally decided to scrap what I was doing and start over. The day I closed the reader that was just too hard for her and told her we were done with this, she would not be doing it anymore, she let out a relieved sigh! I was thinking “Oh my!” She’s been even more discouraged by this than I have! I set on a path to discover a new path. We are on that path now and she actually enjoys phonics and reading time now. So happy for the flexibility offers us in teaching our children as THEY need to learn it. Not on the standard. 🙂

  4. Just this week I realized this same thing. My seven year old is NOT progressing in spelling and writing, and I’d been rather hard on him. I put it right there in front of him? How can he not get it?? Needless to say, I’m sorry. Good to know I’m not the only mom who struggles with this.

  5. I feel like you just described me with my oldest daughter. She lacks confidence in herself in the area of Math. Her entire additude changes when the math book comes out. She also has a problem with writing neater where I can actually understand what it is that she is writing. But it hurts her feelings when I say something about it. I don’t want to hurt her but I want her to know that she can do it and she can achieve anything. So I’m praying. Seeking the Lord on how to best handle her situation.

  6. I have a special needs child and some times teaching can be frustrating! You can’t teach/live like that, it is so much easier just to love!!!!!! : ) Thank you.

  7. THANK YOU! I so needed this reminder today. As a homeschooling mama, I find myself doing the same things and I need to remember the real purpose behind what I’m doing. I’m not doing it to feel better about myself, but to invest each day in each of my children.

  8. AMEN! I put the math book aside for one of my children this week. We are going to be spending some time…just reviewing and learning…not pushing. The same with some concepts in grammar…books aside, just sitting and refreshing….The year may pass…the books and goals may not be completed in the time I thought they should be…but, their hearts…are way too important to push them overboard….for things that will not last an eternity!

  9. Now that you are leaving behind the traditional teaching methods you and your children will do great! How does the lesson impact your child? They will remember it better if math is taught while cooking or doing a construction project. Learning to add 1/3 and 1/2 take on more meaning when they are baking cookies! I am proud of you for expanding your’s and their horizons!

  10. This is so amazing. Thank you for writing this. It is exactly what I needed right now. I find that my own self doubts in my self will sneak into our learning. Thank you again.

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