By Michele Howe
Ana, mom to Derek, felt her eyes begin to cross. They’d already spent the last forty-five minutes drilling phonic sounds from Derek’s beginning reader. At seven-years-old, Derek still wasn’t grasping even the basics of reading. He wasn’t able to capture the sounds correctly…or if he did, the information was forgotten by the following day. Ana was getting desperate. How many times had she endured listening to other moms tell her how their youngster was already reading “chapter books”? Ugh. Try as she might, Ana couldn’t get Derek past the first lesson or two of their home reading program. She started and stopped and started again. If Ana described herself as frustrated, then Derek was about out of his mind. For the first time in his short life, Derek felt something was really wrong with him. He worried that he would never learn to read. Derek felt his mother’s irritation with him, but was powerless to change it. All in all, it was a no-win scenario.
After a full six months of daily “reading” lessons that had progressed nowhere, Ana gave up. She finally listened to that still, small voice inside her head. She decided to give it a rest for a time. The next morning when school started, Derek dejectedly reminded his mom that they hadn’t done reading yet. Ana explained that for a while she was trading places with Derek. Puzzled, Derek asked for an explanation. Ana told her son that everyone could use some brushing up on reading skills….so she would be reading aloud to him every day. Derek’s eyes widened. Really? he asked. Delighted with this new plan, Derek hurried into his room and retrieved an armful of his childhood favorites. Together, Ana and Derek read to their heart’s delight. And for the first time in many days, both shared a smile.
“Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” I Corinthians 8: 1
I must come before you confessing my prideful heart. I’ve been so focused on making certain that my child is able to do what other children can do that I’ve hurt him. He is not ready for the skills I’m pressuring him to master. In my heart, I’ve known for quite a while that it’s not time yet. Still, I’ve pressed him and frustrated him as well. This is wrong. Help me, Father, to not give in to peer pressure. Goodness, I wanted to home school my son to get away from society’s ideas of educating according to someone else’s standards. Here I am falling into the same trap I so wanted to avoid. And I’ve exasperated my beloved child in the process. Looking back, I can hardly believe I’ve allowed it to go this far. Instead of nurturing a love for reading and learning into my son, I’ve probably done just the opposite. Whoever said that homeschoolers were immune to outside pressures was certainly mistaken. I’ve just come to realize that no matter where I teach my son, I must guard my heart against the temptation to allow his successes or failures make me feel sufficient as a mother and a teacher. I understand that I must be diligent in my lessons. Yet, my mother’s heart tells me that he is not ready for this challenge yet. My job is to creatively make learning appealing to him. Even if it means that I must sacrifice some of my own well-formulated plans and take it one day at a time. Father, continue to teach me to look into my own heart so that I might become the loving and joyful instructor you desire me to be. I trust in your guidance to help keep me on the right path. I depend upon your Holy Spirit to speak softy to my heart. Let my words bring encouragement; let my face reveal the love I feel. Amen.
“A positive mom, generally speaking, is a smiling mom.” Karol Ladd in The Power of a Positive Mom
Michele Howe lives with her husband and their four children in LaSalle, Michigan near the shores of Lake Erie. She is a freelance writer and book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and CBA Marketplace and has published over 700 articles and reviews. Her newest books for women include, “Prayers for Homeschool Moms” and “Prayers for New and Expecting Moms”.