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What to do when your child faces lessons with tears?

First thing is to assess their heart – are they being stubborn and don’t want to learn, and tears are a good distraction?  Or is there something else going on.

I think more often than not this is a situation that requires us to show a little grace.  When my kids were young I would often think of all the stuff they were learning…. They were learning to read, write, spell, understand, think, ask good questions.  They were learning how to make their bed, do the dishes, empty the rubbish.  They were learning to listen to stories, listen to devotions, listen to sermons.  They were learning to be kind,share, think of the other person.  There is a lot going on in their lives!

A little grace might be a good thing!

What is grace?  God offers us grace and yet it is a tricky concept.  There are many definitions and two that I like to think on are

  1.  Unmerited favour – it is God’s grace towards us that offers us salvation
  2. Empowerment – It is God’s grace that enables us to walk in truth.

I think we can offer our children both these aspects.  There are times that we just need to look upon them with favour, with gentleness and kindness.  There are other times that we need to give them all that they need to enable them to do what is ahead of them.

So how does this connect with the tears over math?  Well, sometimes we just need to let them have a break.  Other times we need to help them through their tears, and give them the tools they need for life – be it perseverance, diligence, thoroughness, courage, focus, etc.

So with the attitude of grace – not demanding – I can face the tears gently.    If there is attitude in the heart then we correct the attitude, not the tears.  If there is exhaustion, frustration, confusion, anxiety, then we need to respond completely differently.

  • Exhaustion – take a break, the child won’t learn anything in this state anyway
  • Frustration and confusion – take a break (as above) and find another way to teach the concept tomorrow, or in a week’s time, or in a months time.  Sometimes these ‘I don’t understand’ moments just need a little time before the child is ready, developmentally, to get it
  • Anxiety – take a break, and when all is calm, talk about what is creating anxiety – is it a self worth issue, a competition issue, is the child overwhelmed?

As you can see I highly recommend taking a break!  I have found that when we take a break from an intense moment, we can come back to it much more effectively once things have calmed down – regardless of why things became intense.

Taking a break though, say from maths, doesn’t mean the child gets let off completely.  I replace that timeslot with some other learning opportunity which may or may not be connected to the subject matter.  For example, if a child stresses out over a maths lesson, and I get them to take a break, they could play a math based game, do a puzzle or do something completely unrelated to math.  The key is that they move onto something productive that will continue their learning somehow; they are not rewarded with free time.

Each child is going to respond to hard things differently.  The benefit of homeschooling is that we as parents can direct, encourage and guide each individual child in the way that they need.  We need to be careful to respond to tears as parent, not as teacher.  The teacher in us will want to keep up with the lesson plans and curriculum, the parent in us wants the best for our child.

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