The 5 love languages of homeschooling

The 5 love languages of homeschoolingJamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

A few weeks ago an issue with one of my children kept me up late into the night. You know, one of those little things that you can’t quite figure out.

After pondering, praying, and a bit of crying, I eventually reached out to my friend and homeschooling mentor, Rachel DeMille.

In just a sentence or two I outlined the problem and asked if she had any advice. And in one sentence she solved it for me:

“What’s your child’s love language?” 

Hmmmm. Love languages? I had that filed back in my brain somewhere as it relates to marriage, but I had never paid it much attention when it comes to my children.

And after some research into my child’s love language and a little attention in that area, this so-called “issue” pretty much vanished. Vanished, I tell you!

So what is a love language and how can I determine my child’s?

Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell articulated the five love languages years ago. They write: “Every child (like every adult) expresses and receives love best through one of five communication styles.”

We want to express unconditional love in each of these ways, of course.

But just like each child has a different personality, they also have a unique love language. Figuring it out can make a huge difference in the health of your homeschool.

I found this online quiz (recommended for ages 9+) invaluable to figuring out my kids’ love language preference–Trishna, Jonathan, and Elijah enjoyed it, too!

Here is an overview of the five love languages of children and ways we can apply them to our homeschool lives:

The 5 love languages and homeschooling

Physical Touch

A child who best receives love through physical touch desperately needs hugs, kisses, and pats on the shoulder. Not having enough can leave them feeling that they’ve done something wrong and that you are not pleased with them.

Ideas for homeschooling and teaching this child:

  • let them sit on your lap for lessons or stories
  • give them a back massage break for five minutes if they reach a challenge in their work
  • for older kids or teens, give high fives and pats on the shoulder
  • make sure to reconnect with physical touch after disciplining or difficult moments
  • sit close while watching television or a movie
  • roughhouse (tickles, wrestling, chasing) with littles who enjoy it

words

Words of Affirmation

Our culture has lost the art of giving affirmation. Words spoken well do not damage our kids, but fill them with confidence.

They powerfully communicate love, and even more so to a child (or adult) whose main love language is words of affirmation. (Hand raised here–it’s mine!) 

Ideas for homeschooling and teaching this child:

  • take many opportunities throughout the day to encourage. “I love watching you work hard on your ….” or “I could see you being a great doctor” (or whatever career aspiration they’re into)
  • leave a surprise note for a child to find under their pillow or in unexpected places (like when they open their math book)
  • create a special loving phrase that is unique to you and this child
  • in (or after) a difficult moment, share what you love about him or her
  • speak out something positive about this child in front of others (spouse, neighbors, etc)

gifts

Receiving Gifts

Reading the chapter on gifts in The Five Love Languages for Children book gave me a broader concept behind the definition of a “gift.” It doesn’t mean shopping at the mall or spending tons of money. Instead, it suggested framing even the “essentials” I provide in a more special way.

For example, I usually buy new clothes for the kids in the fall. Instead of just bringing them out of the shopping bag when I got home, this year I placed each child’s new clothes inside a pillowcase and stuck a bow on the top with a special note. Then I put the pillowcases in their rooms after they were asleep, so they woke in the morning to new clothes.

Ideas for homeschooling and teaching this child:

  • pick up a rock, shell, or cool object from a nature walk–then place it in a surprising location for them to find with a note from you
  • don’t just buy “homeschool supplies” – take a minute to wrap them up and present the gift in a fun way
  • bring home a small treat once in a while when you’re out grocery shopping–something that shows you were thinking of your child
  • make their favorite meal and let them know you did it to bless them
  • involve your child in the purchases you need to make for them: “We need to buy you a pair of winter boots – let’s pick them out together!”

qualitytime

Quality Time

Two of my three children’s primary love language is quality time, meaning I have my work cut out for me in spreading myself around! I feel like I’m with my kids all the time as a homeschooling mother, but that doesn’t mean it comes across to my quality time needing kids.

If I’m busy or distracted, it doesn’t register in their emotional bank accounts. We don’t need to do anything special, but even making dinner together while chatting goes a long way to keeping those love tanks filled.

Ideas for homeschooling and teaching this child:

  • make eye contact
  • put away screens and other distractions when with them
  • include them in your errands – this child will enjoy what other kids might find boring
  • sit together and look at family photo albums
  • don’t send them to work on all assignments independently, even as they get older
  • hang out without any agenda

actsofservice

Acts of Service

Acts of service doesn’t mean doing everything for a child and never having him take responsibility.

Instead it means recognizing that through your service this child receives your love. When you know this is a child’s main love language, you can put more effort in blessing them with the duties they struggle with most.

Ideas for homeschooling and teaching this child:

  • don’t send your child off to work alone on their most difficult subject. Tackle it together.
  • surprise your kid with a special breakfast on a regular weekday
  • when your child is sick, show your love to them by the extra attention you offer
  • try to respond quickly when this child asks for help
  • every once in a while take over a child’s normal responsibilities (folding the laundry, cleaning his room, etc.)

Want to speak your child’s language?

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 3.40.15 PMThis post barely scratches the surface on this topic, and if you’d like to go deeper make sure you check out  The Five Love Languages of Children.

Reading this book showed me yet another reason why I’m thankful to be a homeschooling parent–the extra hours we spend together each day give me even more time to get to know my children deeply, and be able to demonstrate my unconditional love in the ways that speak volumes to them.

And an unexpected upside? By loving our children well, we also teach them how to love–a gift that keeps giving for generations.

“Accept the children the way we accept trees—with gratitude, because they are a blessing—but do not have expectations or desires. You don’t expect trees to change, you love them as they are.”
~ Isabel Allende

Originally published on October 20, 2014

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.

Comments

  1. Wow, Jamie.
    Eye opening / heart opening thoughts for a Monday morning.
    sheila’s latest post: Sunday Selections

  2. Yes! We are all about love languages here! Any acting up on the part of our elder daughter is almost always because she wants more quality time and my younger one whose love language is physical touch will almost always come to me for hugs when she feels at all needy. We all have them – and they’re all valid!

  3. I say valid because especially in marriage I think if we have a different love language than our spouse ( and we usually do!) it can be a real act of sacrifice to show love in a way we don’t necessarily receive it.

  4. I like the ideas you give for gifts. My daughter definitely has this for her love language and it’s at the bottom for me so practical ideas are always helpful!
    Steph’s latest post: 5 Benefits of Fewer Toys

    • It’s the bottom for me as well, so it was tough for me to acknowledge that as a legitimate love language and not just a product of our materialistic culture. When I started to broaden the idea of what a gift is, then it helped it make more sense to me.

  5. Katrina S says:

    I love this! I have been thinking about this a lot this past week–trying to really figure out each of my kids love language. I think your post on this was great timing for us. Great ideas for different things to do with our kids to show them they are loved. 🙂 Thanks

  6. I love this post!!! 5 Love Languages of Children has been on my mind lately and I want to get a copy. Since I started homeschooling my daughter people have been telling me that she is so happy now. I think it is because one of her love languages is being meet… Quality time with out an agenda! Thanks and yes I’m differentially buying the book!

    Candice
    http://www.mommawonderings.com
    Candice’s latest post: Natural Healing:Unexpected Answer

  7. My daughter’s love language is definitely quality time, as well. One day last year she told me that she feels we don’t spend enough time together – my response was to practically scream “WHAT DO YOU MEAN – I HOMESCHOOL YOU!!!!” Not my finest moment, for sure, because really I know what she means. It’s just hard for me, as an extreme introvert, to enjoy providing the near constant engagement that she seems to need to feel good. I’m not sure what the answer is, but surely recognising how she feels is a good first step. Thanks for the thoughful post.

    • Oh yes, as a fellow introvert I totally get this! And I think it’s a fair point that we can’t sacrifice ourselves completely on the altar of our child’s love language. Otherwise our own emotional tank will be drastically low. So there is a give and take required to come to a happy balance that works for everyone.

    • Yes! Even today, Mom I want to x with you. Seemed like such a demand. Sometimes she’ll stay up late to do chores with me. Then there’s time when we can schedule a trip to get a bite to eat or chill in the book store for a bit. She begs for our nightly stories together but lately I’ve just been to drained.

  8. I just started reading this book last week for the very reason you mentioned at the beginning of the post. I’m hoping we will have the same success. Either way I look forward to getting to know my children a little better. Thanks for all the great application ideas. 🙂
    Rita’s latest post: Goodbye Diapers… for now

  9. I needed to read this today. I have been struggling to adjust with the changes in the relationship with my teenage daughter. Changes that are brought about by age I believe. I’m going to get both my kids to take the quiz and see if I can’t improve tyhings around here 🙂
    Belzi’s latest post: Autumn Sale at Currclick – Extra Discount Here 🙂

  10. This is a lovely post… Kids are so unique and languages can overflow from one thing into another… Just when you think “Aha!!! I’ve got that right…” with one child, another is looking at you as if to say: “What planet are you from…” I love our kids uniqueness’s and really value your practical suggestions. Thank you.
    se7en’s latest post: “Tis the Season for a Cuppa for CANSA… #Se7ensCuppaforCANSA

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for sharing this. We actually own the book, have read it, but haven’t put enough into practice. When I remember to be conscientious about their gifts though, it is very encouraging to see the sparkle in their eyes!
    Mama of six,
    six to 18~~(our last year homeschooling everyone)

  12. Martha Valencia says:

    What a great article Jaime! Would you give permission to feature this article in our Parkland Home Educators Association Newsletter? Please let me know. Thanks!!
    PHEA.ca

  13. Rana HUrley says:

    Not sure how I stumbled on this but glad that I did! Thanks for sharing this

  14. Thank you! I almost cried when I saw this tonight. We have recently been struggling with my son not falling asleep well at night. He is 11 and I saw this and I took the quiz right to him. He started to do it and started to cry in a sweet way. Wow this post is an answer to prayer!

  15. This is a great list, but my question comes out of having four kids with different love languages, and the “fairness/compeitition” factor. It’s very challenging to do “special”thing for one is the rest feel left out….I’m thinking mostly about gifts, time and acts of service…..how do you deal with this? I think it would be okay to tell the others that you are doing something specific for one child b.c. It is very meaningful for that particular child (helps kids also learn about intentionality in love an individual). Thought I would ask your thoughts?

  16. This is brilliant. Really appreciate that you shared specific ways to make this work for children.
    Sharing this!
    Laura Grace Weldon’s latest post: The Wearing of Nostril Straws

  17. Vanessa says:

    That was a lot of fun! I had my children do the quiz as their own age (10ish) and as a teen, because the quiz is more detailed, then added the two scores … and I agree with the results. Quality Time is the first or second love language for each of my children. Hubby’s top love languages are quality time and physical touch. As an introvert who rarely gets solitude, it’s no wonder I feel quite stretched!

  18. Andrews Okine says:

    Very insightful

  19. Mary Ann says:

    Love this. I’m assuming that a kid doesn’t just have one love language. I find my 7 year old having all five. Is that so? Thanks.

    • You’ll likely find that as he/she gets older, one or two will become more prominent. Certainly we have all five to some extent, but usually with one or two dominant. Hope that helps!

  20. Thank you thank you for writing this article! I bought that book a yr ago and haven’t made time to read it. Its coming out today!! Love the practical ideas you gave! In case I didn’t say it, Thank you thank you!!! 🙂

  21. I have never thought of this, Thank you so much! It was enlightening, heartwarming, and an eye opener. Glad I had my coffee first 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!
    Jen’s latest post: Health & Fitness: Overcoming Roadblocks to Eating Healthy

  22. I am pretty sure I read this before, but I definitely needed the reminder right now. I am saving this to read when I have more time tonight to really try to figure out where my older kids fall in the love languages. I LOVE the practical tips on how to work with their love languages during a regular homeschooling day, that will make it so much easier to implement quickly.
    sarah’s latest post: Three Kings’ Day and a recipe for quesitos (a Puerto Rican pastry)

  23. What a great reminder! I know my kids love languages, but I forget about them at times. It’s so easy to become caught up with working/housework and just making sure they are educated and so on. I will definitely bookmark this to help me remember as I have never seen one that goes exactly with homeschooling.
    Rosanna’s latest post: Everyday Friday

  24. I love this. I have two very different learners. I have been discovering their needs by observing, discussing, and asking, but this was great to read – I needed the reminder that I must follow through on some discoveries.

  25. I didn’t think about “Love Language” at the time, but one of the projects my children loved that we did last year was that each day during the month of February, I placed a heart on their school boards (they have small dry erase boards that hang on the wall). Each day they had a new heart taped to their boards that said something that I liked, admired or loved about them. They would race from their rooms in the morning just to read these notes. This school year, we have started the “Bucket Filler” pledge and we have a ziplock baggie with a bucket they colored attached to their boards and we put notes in (at least one a week) saying something that they did that we noticed to fill someone else bucket.

  26. Andrea N says:

    Thank you for the insight and ideas for how to incorporate a child’s Love Language into homeschooling. This is a blessing to me!

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