The Unteachable Child: Truth or Myth?
March 24, 2021
Mercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
When My Words Fail
Many of us have strong-willed, often resistant, children. But the good news is there is always hope because God is with us and for us and His Word never fails.
Many years ago, I went to counseling regarding our strong-willed, and I thought at the time, unteachable child. I was without hope, and was seeking advice. That man gave me no hope. He said something like this, “Because you have so many children, you can’t possibly take care of them all. It is like having 8 mice running around your kitchen and by the time you catch a few under your foot, the others have scattered.” He said my problem was that I had too many children! The good thing about that encounter was that it drove me to my knees as I realized I could not put my trust in the wisdom of man, but wholly lean on Christ and His Word. And it was exactly what I needed.
I dug into God’s Word and it gave me hope. I learned about Who He was and what He can do! I learned that God can change resistant hearts; that His Word makes wise the simple and informs, instructs, and rebukes. His Word was sufficient for training, discipling, and correcting. It was His Word that was going to change my child’s heart (whether I saw that change or not). I had poured the Scriptures into my children from birth, and that is what was going to do its work in their heart. Where my words failed, His Word never would.
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
I know how hard it is to have a child that seems unteachable. I know the daily drain. I also know that as you draw near to Christ, He will draw near to you. Don’t give up. Seek Him for wisdom. He will hear and answer. Don’t trust what you see with your eyes, be patient, and continue to teach Scripture. He knows your heart. And He loves that you want to do what is eternally best for His children. He will not leave you helpless.
For more practical help on teaching an “unteachable” child, read the free ebooks about my story here: Homeschooling the Rebel Part 1, Homeschooling the Rebel Part 2, and Homeschooling the Rebel live workshop.
Dealing with Mr./Miss Difficult
If you have more than one child, then you’re bound to have a ‘difficult child.’ And by difficult, I don’t mean bad; I mean one that isn’t always easy. Sometimes we forget that there’s a difference.
Problems arise when we, the homeschooling parents, take it upon ourselves to ‘de-difficult’ them. We’ve followed standards set by experts that say, “At such and such an age, a child should be doing this in school.” We try; they resist, so we try harder . . . and they resist harder . . . so, WE try even harder until we are in conflict all the time and they hate us.
My advice is to back off and concentrate on the relationship first, not the task, subject, or behavior. Do something the child likes to do and get the relationship right. If you need to play games . . . play games. If you need to read books . . . read books. If you need to sit down and play a dumb video game with him . . . then sit down and play a dumb video game.
Once you like each other . . . you’ll find that the difficult child isn’t so difficult.
Finding a Path Forward
Sometimes things run smoothly, like clockwork. Children behave appropriately and demonstrate a strong work ethic. Other times . . . not so much. When children appear unteachable, the parent needs to carefully find a path forward.
1. Assess your unreasonable expectations.
Are you expecting your child to work too many hours, or late into the evening on school work? Does the child get unplanned free time, to encourage normal growth and development through experience? Are you expecting perfection? Excellence means mastery, not perfection. Only our Heavenly Father is perfect, after all. Have you accounted for the increased sleep need during the teenage years? All of these things can create a situation where a student can only fail, and the result appears to be an unteachable child.
2. Determine if the curriculum is ineffective.
An effective curriculum is the right fit for the student, not necessarily the teacher. It should meet their learning style. Effective curriculum meets the ability level of the child, not their age or grade level. This is particularly important for parents homeschooling for the first time. Let go of grade levels. Meet your child where they are, with their unique gifts and abilities. Curriculum choice should be challenging to the student, so it’s interesting and they can learn something. It should not be overwhelming and over their head, so that lessons remain doable.
3. Address serious trouble.
Homeschoolers are not immune from the troubles of the world. A child in distress may appear to be unteachable, but actually need parental intervention. Put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and search for clues. Have they experienced depression or pornography exposure? Read the 59 warning signs of drug abuse that all parents need to know. Digital addiction is like a new drug hazard for this generation, so watch the video series, Critical Technology Boundaries for Children and Teens. Speak to your pediatrician and ask if learning disabilities might be an issue, or if your child may need counseling.
You are the perfect person to assess the problem and implement a plan going forward. You genuinely love your child, and are invested in their future success and happiness. While it can be overwhelming at times, you have been carefully selected as the right person for the job. You have what it takes.
Pillar of Future: The Watchful Citizen
“The Salvation of the State is Watchfulness in the Citizen”
This is the inscription over the main entrance to the Nebraska state capitol, about 50 miles east of where I was homeschooled. I traveled with friends and family to the capitol for both civics lessons and advocacy, usually in late winter when it was still freezing cold.
Many homeschoolers are all too familiar with having to trek to their respective capitol buildings to advocate for the freedom to homeschool.
Their success is evidenced by the increasing acceptance of homeschooling and growing numbers of homeschoolers today. But “watchfulness in the citizen” remains vital to ensure this wonderful freedom is passed along to the next generation.
The bustling activity in state capitol buildings in 2021 is a little different due to delayed sessions, virtual hearings, and limited in-person testimony and tours. But opportunities to teach civics and advocate for freedom abound.
Here are three quick things every homeschool family can do to educate their children and help preserve homeschool freedom:
- Find out who your state and federal elected officials are.
- Learn about the different steps in the lawmaking process.
- Contact your elected officials and introduce yourself (in person or virtually).
Look What’s Happening!
Florida Parent Educators Association presents HEROIC: The 2021 FPEA Homeschool Convention on May 27-29 in Orlando. Registration (March 2 to May 3) is $75 for FPEA Members; $115 for Non-Members.
Share this newsletter with a friend, and be sure to let those CONSIDERING homeschooling know about the enormous FREE info-pack which awaits them here: www.TryHomeschooling.com.
Congratulations to Susanna Denninger from Charlotte, NC, who won our January giveaway!
for the month of March
The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud (Amazing Tales of Max & Liz)
Would you like to have experienced the Biblical Flood or at least been a part of gathering the animals two by two? In the 432-page book, The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud (Amazing Tales of Max & Liz) by Jenny L. Cote, you can do just that. This hefty softcover book is the first in the Biblically based series The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz from AMG Publishers and is a mix of Biblical truths, fun imagination, and a plethora of adventure. Main characters Max and Liz, who just happen to be a small but fierce dog from Scotland and a sleek, proper cat from France, are joined by new friends as they journey from their homes to meet and assist Noah and his family in loading the ark, enduring the almost year-long journey, and repopulating the Earth. Led from continent to continent following the Voice, the animals are tested in their strength, determination, and faith.
As a Christian homeschool family, we thoroughly enjoyed this book, a solid mixture of Biblical truth and imaginative whimsy. Author Cote catches the reader’s attention and draws them into the story with her attention to detail and her use of authentic accents and speech for each character.
Go to the contest page of our site where you can ENTER TO WIN The Ark, the Reed, & the Firecloud.
The SPRING issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
is now available for FREE online!
Read the SPRING 2021 issue free at www.TOSMagazine.com or download the free mobile apps at www.TOSApps.com.
Get the print issue here.
VIEW BACK ISSUES: Current subscribers go here to access all back issues.
|We Want Your Feedback!|