In this Vital Mercy series, Dr. Brenda Murphy shares letters to help calm the fears, answer the questions and steer parents on a path to successful teaching and learning with struggling learners at home.
Have you ever had a day (or a week? or a month?) when your heart is so heavy and you’re so discouraged because your child just isn’t the academic genius you always hoped to have? Let me share with you one specific thought the Lord has convicted me of over the years: Since God created my child to glorify and enjoy Him forever, He, the Great Creator, will equip that child with everything he needs to complete the work our Lord has put him here to do! Think about that. The King of Kings has created and will equip us and our children with everything. Period. No exceptions. That’s The Truth (with capital Ts), and that’s what we need to focus on most. Without question.
Yet, practically speaking, then, what can we do when the math facts won’t stick, and the words on a page are “Greek” to the child trying desperately to read them?
Focus on real life skills. The truth (little t) is: It’s not all about math and reading: there’s life to be lived! To prepare for that real life, here’s what I suggest:
Sit down with your spouse and write out a list of all the practical skills you want your child to develop, such as computer, construction, woodworking, furniture making, cooking, sewing, drafting, horticulture, smithing (gun, all types of precious and non-precious metals, lock, black, among others), entrepreneurship, investing, finances…to name just a few. The list of possibilities goes on and on.
Identify a time frame to acquire the skill: this year, next year, before graduation, or whenever you think it’s feasible for your child to accomplish. Give high school credit for them. It is education after all.
Pray and prioritize the list.
Think about ways to teach these skills. Some will need a lot of repetition and practice. Build these skills into your daily or weekly schedule like any other course. Some can be taught like any other regular class; some by modeling and demonstration; others with a combination of the two.
KEEP TRACK OF PROGRESS
Make a check list of the small steps required to master the skill. Businesses often use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate factors crucial to success. KPIs must be specific, measurable, achievable, performance relevant and have a deadline. You and your child can identify the KPIs together, then watch as each one is fulfilled. It’s important for all of us to see accomplishment and KPIs do just that.
Thank God (even ahead of time) for the things you know He will do! Miracles seem to happen after the formal end to school and the diploma is framed and hanging on the wall. The math disabilities seem to disappear for the chef who must keep track of costs or go out of business, and reading problems are a thing of the past for the customer-service rep who reads customer histories all day.
A footnote to remind you just in case you’ve forgotten: a vast amount of learning is really going on in your home everyday. Day-by-day, as you manage your home, participate in community, social, sports and church activities and interact with others, you’re truly equipping your child for the life ahead of him/her. That’s cause for celebration and a feel-good pat on the back.
That’s The TRUTH; you deserve it. Not because of anything you, or I or anyone has done or could do, but just because of the simple truth that God created us and our children just as He intended and equips us for everything He put us here to do! Period. No, exclamation point!
With eyes on the Great Prize,
Laura and Brenda
Read the next letter, Special Needs Child vs. Struggling Learner