No, really. How are things going?

02 17 14 Knowledge verses Understanding It doesn’t take much to get a homeschool mother stressed. In fact, I believe that most of us are only a few pointed questions away from tears… if folks only know where to probe. We struggle with fears that our children are missing things. We are concerned that there are academic gaps. We constantly strive to build our relationships with them and then feel that our pattern of bonding needs to change as puberty hits.

These are not concerns that are exclusive to homeschooling mamas. All mothers deal with this. But this time of year, homeschoolers tend to hit that big stress of academics. We assess how well we have been working through that new curriculum, and we are concerned that we are a “bit” behind.

Oh, yes, I have been there many times, too.

There was always something inside me that made me feel like we had to finish a book by the end of the year or I have failed (even though I can remember several times in my public school and college experience that we didn’t complete the whole book!).

This time of year, I tend to look at where my kids are in their learning. Are they getting it? There always seems to be one or two subjects that we just cannot move through. Every year, I keep trying to FIX this. I troll the curriculum fairs and look over catalogs, seeking that amazing curriculum that should be called “Fix-my-broken-speller-in-a-box” or “Build-a-math-genius-in-10-easy-steps”.

Nope. They don’t exist. Believe me, I looked!

But after several years of the assessment/stress/fix cycle, I have realized that my frame of mind was out of whack. I keep falling into the trap where I think I have to pump information into my children who then can pump that information back out on a standardized test and will become brain surgeons because of it.

Is that what I really want? No. I am homeschooling them for many reasons, and one of the main ones is so that I can help my children to gain wisdom and understanding as they learn facts and figures.

02 17 14 Knowledge versus Understanding I

This is why I need perspective. I need to be in the Word, daily, to be reminded why I am doing this. My goal is not to raise children to become smart people. (Of course, I wouldn’t object if that happened as a side effect!). No, really. My goal is to train up my children in wisdom – God’s wisdom. So, as they are learning facts and figures, they are doing it with gentle, daily encouragement as we instill in them the wisdom of our Creator.

Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” One of the amazing things about homeschooling is that we have the ability to stop and assess where we are and where we are going on a regular basis. We can then stop if necessary to work on weaknesses. We can even change course and switch to a new curriculum if necessary.

(Yes, I give you permission to do this. Stop using something if it isn’t working for you or your child, even if it is the curriculum that everyone else is using. Homeschoolers aren’t “bandwagon” people anyway. We do things differently from the crowd so our unique children get a tailored education.)

It takes longer to explain academic facts with world view and with character training. As we read that literature book, we do not just want them to fill in blanks on a worksheet about what they just read. We want them to think about the characters in the story; what they discovered; the consequences of their actions. While learning math facts, we want our children to understand the importance of working diligently; how math can be seen in nature; how God is a God of order.

So what if we don’t make it all the way through the book. So what if our children are struggling with something. That is part of growing up. We have the awesome ability to take the time to deal with those struggles and fill our children up with the wisdom of God.

Trust me, the knowledge will come. But if it comes without understanding and wisdom, what good is it? Take the time to impart these things to your children. Pray for wisdom as you teach.

And know that by doing this, you can say that things are DEFINITELY going well.

HomeschoolSherri Seligson