I admit that when I thought about this topic my real motivation was hearing what the other moms of many were going to say. I kinda forgot that I would have to write on this too.
In our opinion the main difference between teaching big kids and little kids is the degree of responsibility and discernment between the two groups. (For the purpose of this post ‘big kids’ means children between the ages of 10 an 13.) Our goals do not change and neither do our challenges.
It seems to me that when it comes to educating younger children there are two mistakes that we tend to make. On the one hand, we realize that God has given children the ability and desire to learn and we neglect to consider that they have a sin nature. In this error we think that if we simply provide the children with a fun, stimulating atmosphere they will learn everything that is needful for them to know.
The other error is that we realize that our children have a sin nature and we forget God’s common grace, that is, even though we are born with a sin nature we are not as bad as we possibly can be and God has indeed given children an innate desire and ability to learn about the world around them. In this error we believe that we should sit our children down for hours each day and teach and drill so that they get as many facts into their head as they possibly can.
We believe that that the best way to educate young children is a balance between the two. God has given children an amazing desire and ability to learn AND they tend to be naturally lazy when that learning gets difficult. Here is our attempt to balance these two aspects of our children’s nature. ~copied from my post on teaching little kids
We teach our big kids in much the same manner that we teach our younger children. It’s simply a matter of degrees. We expect more of our older children, but our focus and methods remain the same.
To encourage our children’s natural love of learning:
I would encourage you to read my post about teaching little ones because we continue to do all of the things that I listed under this heading in that post with one difference.
Point #2. As our children enter the ‘older’ stage (around 10 years) they begin some of the formal subjects that we delayed in the earlier years. There are some subject that we do not teach “formally” to our children and some we continue to delay.
To help our children overcome their natural laziness:
- We provide ample opportunities for them to learn through hard work. We extend our children’s responsibilities to areas outside of our home. (i.e. They clean house, babysit, mow lawns, rake leaves and cook for families in our church and neighborhood.)
- We focus on character. By now we find that our children are basically responsible and diligent in both their household tasks and school assignments and we focus more on service to others. Most of this training comes not from learning to serve those outside our family (they do a lot of that, but that comes easily and doesn’t test their character), but rather learning to cheerfully serve their younger siblings.
- We require excellence and focus in all of their academic assignments.
- We require them to be responsible for their own assignments. I do not hang over their shoulder and watch as they work. Mark and I check at the end of the week to be certain that they have accomplished what was expected of them.
To build relationships as you educate older children:
- Big kids still need physical closeness. Although they need less now than previously, it is not unusual for Mark or me to have one of the big kids on our lap.
- Encourage your children. Remember, if you have your child’s heart they desire to please you and you should let them know that their efforts are pleasing to you.
- Make time for your older children. It seems that in many ways our older children need the interaction with us now more than they did when they were younger. They talk with us more and have deeper thoughts, ideas and questions that they want to discuss with us. This is a precious time, don’t lose it.
- While our children work on several things independently (math, Greek and writing), Mark and I still work directly with our older children on many subjects; Bible, history, character studies, etc. See point #3. (We see specific commands to teach these particular subjects to our children in Scripture and we attempt to pattern our method after Deuteronomy 6. For more about how this works, read Our Methods and 6 Distinctives of our Homeschool)
- Don’t fill their academic schedule so full that they don’t have time for the important things in life. Remember the goal.
- Give your older children the opportunity to interact with younger ones. (**In our family, we have chosen not to delegate the responsibility of teaching to our older children because we believe that responsibility is given to parents. Besides, we would hate to miss out on that precious time with our little ones, whether it’s teaching them to read, working with maps or reading about mummies.) Since our whole family is studying history together, older children working with the younger children comes about very naturally. The older kids love to read additional books on the topics/events that we are studying to the younger children and they beg to ‘lead’ the hands-on activities that I plan for the little kids. (Yesterday Matthew helped the younger children make mud bricks like the people of Mesopotamia made.) They also work together on many activities and I often find that when I go to instruct one of the younger kids in something that they already know how to do it because, “Alyssa already taught me how to make a salad, Mommy.”
As our children get older, these thoughts that Kevin Swanson shares about protection in his book ‘ Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child‘ are things that Mark and I are considering more closely,
But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me – it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea! ~ Matthew 18:6
Such grim words coming from the lips of Jesus should cause any parent or teacher to stop a moment and ponder. Children are important to Jesus…..This timeless truth teaches that children must be protected from hinderances while they are shepherded down the pathway of wisdom.
Note also what it is that would merit the millstone treatment - placing an occasion to stumble in the path of a child.
But how do we determine how much protection to require for our children? How much protection is too much protection? The following wisdom passage provides a helpful standard to answer this all important question.
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
Swanson goes on to say,
The acid test determining whether a child is ready to be subjected to an environment hostile to his own world views and faith is found here: the child must be prepared to confront the world, to wrestle with principalities and powers, to cast down imaginations that oppose the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Many books, teachers and media expose our children “to an environment hostile to his own world views and faith”.
So what do you think? Are we naive as we enter the teen years? We’re still trying to figure this out and would love to hear Biblical advice and counsel from those who are ahead of us on this path.
**I know that a lot of homeschoolers do this and we’d love to hear the Biblical reasons and ideas behind it.
See what the other moms of many have to say: