Written by Kari Patterson
I still can barely believe it somedays. When I walk in Dutch’s room and see him crowded over a history assignment, all on his own initiative. Or when he announces, “Mom! I got my whole week’s worth of science work done in one day, again!” or when I hear him tell his sister, “I’ll meet you down at the pond as soon as I finish my history test.”
Who is this?
I feel like I’m watching the metamorphosis of child to man, tinkerer to scholar.
I find myself chuckling, “This is exactly what they said would happen!”
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At almost 13 (7th grade, by age) our son is officially in the transition-to-scholar phase, as described in the Phases of Learning. No matter what one’s educational philosophy (I feel like I’ve dabbled in them all!), I found the phases so helpful for understanding our children developmentally.
In May of 2017 I was at my wit’s end; I felt like I had become the mom I never wanted to be.
It’s bizarre looking back, it feels like a lifetime ago. We made drastic changes to recover our lost love of learning. We took an entire year to experiment with different books and learning methods. We cut out extra-curriculars and slowed way down.
Most of all, we committed to cultivating character above academics, devoting ourselves to personal discipline in our daily habits instead of educational achievements, and sought to value virtue (kindness, patience, grace) above all.
It was last year, when they started asking for more school, that I thought, “Hmm…maybe this is working!”
So this year, knowing he might be transitioning into scholar phase soon, we asked Dutch if he wanted to begin taking supplementary classes, in the subjects of his choice, in order to challenge himself more. He was all for it.
After much prayer, research, talking to trusted friends, and over-thinking (ha!), we settled on a once-a-week day of classes available for homeschool teens (7th-12th grades).
I honestly had no idea what to expect. Dutch had never been in a classroom setting. He’s quirky. (Did I mention he has Asperger’s?) And this is a drop-off program.
No mama there to make sure he minds his manners or swoop in and save him if no one sits with him at lunch.
Well, he LOVES it. Like, LOVES it. What’s most shocking to me is that I have never, not a single time, reminded him about his homework. He does it! All! On his own!
I’m not the one driving this thing anymore. And it reminds me of what they always said,
“Trust the process.”
Your values and the individual needs of your own children will likely determine your course. Ours goes something like this:
- Teach them from the youngest age to treat you, others, and the world around them with kindness and respect.
- Cultivate their wonder and love of learning.
- Read, read, read, and read some more.
- Require cheerful obedience.
- Teach them to contribute through chores, as part of the family team.
- Save screens for special occasions.
- Focus first and foremost on my own habits, discipline, and attitude.
- Surround them with educational excellence, literary classics, and peers whose parents will reinforce the values you are seeking to instill.
Of course this isn’t a prescription for you, just a description of the process we’re seeking to follow.
But it’s often so hard to trust the process!
It’s hard in those early years, when it feels like everyone else has Little Junior in 18 extra-curricular activities, or when every other four-year-old is going to the Ivy-League prep preschool while yours is making mud pies and picking his nose, or when your nine-year-old still isn’t reading well and you feel that panic rising inside.
I find the same is true in other areas of life. Right now I’m having to patiently trust another process that is incredibly painful. Everything in me wants a short-cut, some way to make this situation just go away. But as a believer in Jesus, I have to trust that He began a good work in me and He will carry it all the way to completion.
I’m a work in progress, to be sure, and it doesn’t always look pretty, but I have to trust the process.
I still have to remind Dutch about some stuff (Are you wearing deodorant?!), but I just wanted to share this little tidbit of encouragement, in case you too are along the journey and wondering, “Is this really going to work?”
Stay the course, dear one! Thoughtfully consider your path, then trust that it will take your children exactly where they need to go.
What “process” have you had to trust? Where have you seen it pay off? What have you learned?