On paper, your homeschool day is neatly scheduled, but you probably didn’t schedule the following:
- 9:15 a.m.—Kindergartener throws his pencil down, saying, “I just can’t write the letter s.”
- 10:22—Fifth grader protests when her little brother wants to join in her science experiment.
- 1:05—First grader covers his ears defiantly rather than listen to you explain the math problem he completed incorrectly.
- 1:12—Third grader keeps daydreaming instead of completing her worksheet.
- 2:47—Ninth grader complains, “Why do I have to learn algebra if I’ll never use it in real life anyway?”
Heart matters are the invisible subjects that we often sweep aside. If I’m focused on checking off the school subjects on my daily plan, I’m likely to let attitude issues frustrate me rather than seeing them as a prime opportunity to help my children mature in working through these invisible subjects in a way that honors God.
When the ear-piercing smoke alarm interrupts my dinner-making, I don’t ignore it or take out its batteries—I check to see what’s burning. Similarly, an outburst from a child should prompt me to action, not merely to move on from the interruption but to address the heart matters.
Since I tend to be task-oriented, my natural reaction is to feel irritated at the disruption. If I respond to my children’s frustration by getting frustrated myself and demanding results, they will feel the hypocrisy. So I need to adjust my perspective before I can help my child adjust his or hers.
Often when I’m dealing with an attitude problem with a child, it brings to the surface heart matters of my own to acknowledge and address, such as impatience. Homeschooling means Mom is enrolling herself in the school of patience!
How can I shepherd my child’s heart when she has gone astray into a thicket of thorns? It might take some loving and firm shepherding before she’s receptive to counsel. Once I have helped my child calm down, I can purpose to follow-up, so we can discuss character from a biblical perspective:
- Creation: God created us to give Him glory (sorry, throwing a fit doesn’t do that).
- Fall: The reason we fall short of glorifying God is that we are children of Adam (Romans 5:12).
- Redemption: We can be born again as children of God through faith in His Son (John 3:3–8).
Countless other topics might be helpful, such as discussing the sovereignty of God. He is in control, allowing situations in our lives for good (even that pesky little brother), though we may not understand it at the time. Ask your child questions such as, “What do you think you can do if you begin to feel upset about this again? Are there any Bible verses that can guide you?”
Next time you’re making tea, notice that it’s the flavor of the tea—whether bitter or sweet—that seeps out of the tea bag when you add hot water. Similarly, “hot water situations” reveal what’s in our hearts. We must be depending on the Lord in prayer so we can rejoice in trials, respond wisely, grow in steadfastness, and glorify God (James 1:2–5).
While academics is important, that kind of learning will come more easily if we help our children succeed in the invisible subjects, keeping our hearts diligently.
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)