I have fond memories of helping my children construct puzzles. I particularly remember the ones that imitated the sound of the object when you put it in the correct place. Farm animals, trucks, weather, you remember, don’t you? The delight on my son’s face when we heard the sound was absolutely priceless. For him it was a symbol of a job well done.
The simplicity of encouraging him has become harder to do the older he has grown. Now that he’s almost 19, I find my words of encouragement and praise to be much more important. Long past are the days of puzzles and construction paper art on the fridge. Today brings tasks that are only found in a man’s heart. Protecting the honor of a woman, standing by friends and family in a crisis, seeking out the lost, and fighting his way through the filth we find in our world are all issues that battle for his attention.
How do we as parents maintain our place on the horizon of our children’s futures? One way to do so is by picking our battles. When your students first began their journey into home education, the assignments were simple, straightforward, and usually quite fun. It’s relatively easy to capture the attention of a first or second grader with a container of playdough or some watercolor paints. As they become older, however, school work requires more organization, assignments increase in difficulty, and students are faced with not only academic challenges but social and emotional ones as well. One thing that has served our family well over the past 19 years is to choose our battles wisely. Here is what I mean by that:
Children of all ages desire to be heard. They strive for originality. Sometimes this comes in the form of bright blue or chartreuse hair, sometimes it is displayed by rooting for the family’s “rival” sports team, and sometimes you will see this displayed in the form of bad behavior. For our 19 year old, it came in the form of “ink.” Yes, a tattoo. His desire to chart his own course found its way to the inside of his left upper arm. Although I wouldn’t have chosen this for him, it is not a battle we are choosing to have.
My point is simply this: Allowing children to embrace their uniqueness will let them know that you value their opinion. If you are willing to compromise on issues that are not detrimental to your children’s futures as Christian men and women, it shows them that you understand they are creating their own paths. The beauty of home educating is that you are able to be with your children daily. Embrace the freedom to be creative! If your family breaks for the summer months, take some time to investigate what interests your children have academically by allowing them to take part in the planning of their subjects, or tailor reading and report materials to meet their interests. Discuss post-high school goals with your older student. Do you know his or her plan?
Ask yourself how you can adjust your expectations to walk the road toward independence together.
Most importantly, instill in your children’s hearts (no matter the age) to follow God’s direction first. If they are seeking Him, you have succeeded. Whether it is as simple as the crow of a rooster in a farm puzzle or your gentle congratulations for a newfound career path, let them know you hear them and let them hear your praise.
Listening, adjusting, setting new goals, and focusing on what is truly important will help facilitate strong relationships with your children as they grow into productive adults–even if they do have blue hair!
If you would like more information on making your time with upper level students productive and enlightening, consider joining us at the THSC Convention in The Woodlands for the following sessions and many more!
- Roxanne Parks, 12 Ways to Keep Your Sanity through Teenage Rebellion
- Doctors Ted and Johnnie Seago, Post-High School Options
- Becky Muldrow, How to Build an Impressive High School Transcript