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The Language of Learning

Today at church I sat by a grandmom, Nina, who is from the Ukraine. She has lived here for several years, but is still quite limited in the English language. I was holding a friend’s very wiggly baby when Nina motioned to me that she would like to help hold him. I was worn out and welcomed the help, but I wondered how she would rein him in. So I watched as he wiggled, squirmed, and tried every trick in the book  to climb over the rows, bite the chair next to him, and pull the hair of the girls in front of us. Nina continually and masterfully kept turning his face to her own and shaking her head “No.” She was undaunted in her discipline and yet very sweet and encouraging. He really enjoyed sitting in her lap, and I learned that intentional mothering does not need a language!

Sometimes the key to mothering and to teaching is to continually “turn our children’s faces to our own” and make a connection. After we know we have their attention, we can pass on important principles that will help train them for the tasks they will encounter in the future.

In our family, I have used many strategies for connection, especially around Christmas. We anticipate the holiday with a large homemade advent calendar which begins with Creation and shows the need for a Savior to come. (Now the grown kids and grandkids have their own calendar like this!)

Also, for 27 years we have had a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. We have a cake, blow out a few candles, and then share what God has been teaching each one of us that year. Now our sharing lasts late into the night and is incredibly deep and meaningful. We plan on continuing this tradition because we feel like it has wonderful purpose and meaning behind it.

As homeschooling moms, it is up to us to study the curricula, the scheduling, and the traditions we employ with our children to see if they are still working for us. Children are much more perceptive than we tend to give them credit for, and they will certainly see through needless busywork, fake educational objectives, and time-wasters. We do not have to speak the foreign language of “educationese”—just attempt to impart meaningful, relevant lessons of timeless truths; speak the language of learning in whatever way communicates to your children best.