What if they Still Don't Care for Their Schoolbooks?

"I'm applying Miss Mason's methods, but my children STILL don't care for their schoolbooks. Help?"

Each family has its own strengths and weaknesses, so, unfortunately I can't answer this question for each particular family. I can only offer suggestions to help you better diagnose the problem and find a personal solution. I CAN also assure you that it has nothing to do with the CM approach not being compatible with your child's learning style.

Remember, half of a successful homeschool foundation is based on feeding your children's minds with IDEAS rather than naked facts. But the other half is held up by established HABITS. You don't need a different curriculum, you need to work on establishing the habit of obedience. Making school more fun by providing entertaining crafts and outings is just dealing with the symptoms, but not addressing the illness, itself. Your child will limp throughout life, unable to become all that he was meant to be if he doesn't learn to strengthen his will to choose what is good and right for himself.

I do not believe a mother can successfully educate her child if he does not recognize and acknowledge that she is the authority in his life; AND she has the right to be his authority because it has been appointed to her by the One who has authority over her- God, Himself. When a child realizes that mom HAS to train and discipline him because God has commanded it, then it helps the child submit. Mother is no longer the boss just because she is bigger and stronger than him. She has to obey the authority over her, too.

Children need a predictable daily schedule of some sort. It helps them to anticipate what is next rather than bouncing around, acting silly and wasting time between subjects, meals and chores. Let the schedule fit your personality, whether flexible or tight, but some sort of predictable framework needs to be in place.

Drastically lower the active child's sugar intake and watch for changes. This helped my daughter immensely. Sugar gives a quick energy and then the bottom drops up and a child is sluggish.

Keep lessons short and moving. Make sure you are mixing up sit down and writing times with his more exciting or active subjects. Some children need more movement than others. Get that energy out. Take short five or ten minute breaks and dance to music or send them out to run around the house. Think up fun excuses for movement.

Limit TV and computer games. Real learning requires mind exertion. Unfortunately, television just makes the mind lazy. It's almost hypnotic. It can actually make a child disdain reading books, simply because they require deeper thinking.

Get rid of twaddle. If half your books are living, but you still allow your child to read quite a bit of twaddle, he will never learn to appreciate the cream of the crop. His mind will prefer the simple sentences and themes over the more difficult books because it is natural to prefer ease over work.

Give a young child time to gradually mature in the area of habits and give a child who is new to the CM method time to adjust to a complete paradigm shift concerning the getting of knowledge.

Limit entertainment. Today's society allows for a typical family to visit the zoo on Monday, paintball on Tuesday, baseball on Wednesday, swimming on Thursday, Coop party on Friday, Six Flags on Saturday, youth group on Sunday and it all starts over with new entertainment the following week. I am not saying these things are bad in and of themselves- but as interesting as it may be, reading Shakespeare just doesn't compare to the EXCITEMENT of all the other events going on in a child's life these days. We need to eliminate some of the entertainment or our child's mind will never learn to care about knowledge, even if it comes in the otherwise, attractive form of living books. I have been particularly careful to follow my own advice in this area. Due to the limited entertainment in our family's life, our children thrill at the simplest things- an ice cream cone, the annual trip to the zoo, going to a play, going to the store with dad, reading a book while in a favorite tree. This may be a homeschooling mother's greatest challenge.

Please do not be misled into thinking my own children run to the schoolroom every morning and eagerly get out their schoolbooks saying, "Oh goody! What shall we learn today?" Sometimes they ARE that excited; usually, they like morning lessons. But there are times when they are just being dutiful and if you offered them a holiday at the sea, they would most assuredly say 'yes' with enthusiasm. (Afterall, no book about the sea can compare to experiencing the sea) BUT, if we stop schooling for even just a few weeks, I hear a child say, 'we've missed school too long,' or they end up spending their free time educating themselves because the desire and the habits are in place. They enjoy learning. By the end of a typical school year, in late spring, they are chomping at the bit to have a summer break. I allow six to eight weeks for a break, but, inevitably, after just four weeks of doing what they wish, they want to begin again.

Another example: I spoke with my 13 dd two evenings ago. While I was writing this post, she read over my shoulder and blurted out, "When I first started writing narrations, they were so hard. I dreaded it. Now I love it. Words just flow from my pen without much effort these days. I am really glad I kept at it."

This is all the enthusiasm I expect for the rigorous task of learning. I am pleased with the amount of desire they show in a time when so many exciting things are vying for their interests.

one step at a time...