Around the Thanksgiving table a couple of years ago with my extended family the conversation had turned to our childhood when one of my brothers said,
Wait a minute, are you telling me that I have a learning disability?
He had a college degree, a masters degree, a patent and a job that many would envy and now in his mid-late twenties, he’s finding out that if he had been in traditional schools he would have been in the special needs classes.
This week the 4 Moms Moms of Many are talking about educating the challenging child.
As I talk about this topic please remember that we believe that when God gives us our specific children, He also gives us the ability and wisdom that we need to raise that child for His glory. We believe that one of the best teachers for your child is you. You know and love your child better than anyone else and He has called you to train your child in the most important skills in life, the fear and instruction of the Lord.
I’m not presuming to tell you what to do with your children, just sharing some of our experiences and what we’ve done with ours.
We have a few children who have more difficulty learning than our other children. When young, one of them tested on the autism spectrum. We chose not to have further testing done and though this child continues to have challenges, they are now able to relate socially to others, they are talking and communicating at an appropriate level for their age and although “late” by current standards are now reading, comprehending and learning math.
Here are some things that I watched my mother do with my brother and that we’ve done with our children who learn differently.
We haven’t given them a label.
I recognize that this is a personal decision, but I do not think that my brother would have done what he did educationally if he had been labeled with his learning disability or if he had been in ‘special’ classes.
While we’ve extensively discussed our children’s learning with our pediatrician and we chose to have some developmental testing done because of possibly related health concerns, we have not sought an official diagnosis. If we did (so that we could better understand how to help our child/children learn) I don’t think that we would tell our child.
Many have argued that there is government help for those who have these labels, but since our family does not accept government assistance in any form, this point is moot for us.
We focus on what God requires.
God does have a standard for educational achievement, but it’s not reading by age 6 or taking Algebra in high school. His standard is character and relationship. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start when it comes to what God expects us to teach our children.
We take a deep breath, relax and try not to compare with others.
My brother wasn’t able to write his name or read until he was around 8 or 9 years old and reading continues to be a challenge for him. Knowing this has helped me dramatically as we’ve watched a couple of our kids struggle with reading.
While most of our children have been early readers. One of our children did not begin reading until 9 and another is still struggling at an age that most people would assume they would be fluent.
I understand the pressure, especially as a homeschooler, to have children tracking on grade level. However, I think that our children would benefit if we would realize that children are all different and that perhaps the notion that everyone is ready to read at 5 years of age is false. Perhaps God created one of our children to develop in such a way that they weren’t ready to read at 5 or 6 or even 7. Perhaps that child was created to learn to read at age 9, who am I to to say or think that there must be something wrong with them?
We don’t push beyond what they are able.
This is where the parental wisdom comes in, we don’t want to allow our children to be lazy and not learn what they can, but we also don’t want to push them to learn what they are not able to learn. We aim to have our child’s heart so that they want to please us, then we pray for wisdom.
We aren’t married to an educational methodology or curriculum.
God does give us a method for educating our children and it’s not Charlotte Mason or Classical Christian. It’s not Sonlight, Abeka or My Father’s World. Hold to His standard and within that find what works best for your child.
We love and praise our children.
God has created each of our children after His image. He has created them for His purpose and He has created them differently. We accept them as they are and let them know that we are grateful for them and proud of them.
What did I miss? How are you educating your challenging children?
For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.