My son, Titus, who is my two year old going on three next month, didn’t start talking quite as early as my two older sons. But I always believed that in God’s time he would become more verbally expressive and more articulate. Although he talked before two, his speech wasn’t always intelligible.
In the last month, however, he has become such a chatterbox. The other day, while Edric and I were having a conversation, he poked his head between us and said, “What are you talking about?” Yesterday, when he balanced a lollipop on its head at the dinner table, he said, “Did you see that? It’s amazing!” However, just two months ago he could barely complete a sentence!
I knew a homeschool kid who didn’t read until the age of 9 or 10 but when he finally did, he started reading Charles Dickens!
I’m sharing this because it is a reminder that all our children have their own time tables to bloom. My eldest son was speaking sentences clearly at the age of one, but he only learned to ride a bike without training wheels at the age of 7. His cousin, on the other hand, didn’t start talking til later, but rode a bike without training wheels at the age of 4.
As much as I try not to compare my children with one another or with others, I will admit that it is hard! When I homeschool, it is especially difficult not to make comparisons because I work with each one of them and see their strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes I can’t help but look at other families and use their own children as a benchmark for my own. I want to know, are my kids developing normally, are they learning enough, am I a good teacher, why aren’t they more like…?
However, I am learning that one of the most destructive things I can do parent can do is show preference for one child over the other, praise another child more than another, or pressure my kids to be more like “so and so.” I’ve messed up a number of times and I’ve had to stop myself and appreciate each of my children just as they are, just the way God made them to be. They are all in process…
My role, as a teacher, is to provide the most optimum environment for them to explore, create, develop, and learn. It is also my responsibility to teach and train them in a loving and encouraging manner. If these conditions are present I don’t need to fret about when they will talk, when they will read, when they will be able to ride a bike or swim, or when they will master a skill or ability. That’s God’s department. Even special needs children have a God-given timetable. After having four kids, I am finally beginning to relax when it comes to my homeschooling and parenting!
They will certainly bloom in God’s time. Have you ever tried forcing a flower to bloom when it is not ready? Well sometimes we can do that with our kids when we are teaching them. We put too much water (we focus too much on knowledge), we expose them to too much sunlight (we over-schedule them with activities), we blast them with air (we give them too much correction and not enough encouragement), and worst of all, we forget to pull out the weeds (we don’t focus on the character issues). Allow me to predict the results: 1. They will struggle through the learning process. 2. You will get frustrated and impatient because they can’t seem to “get it.” 3. They will not enjoy homeschooling.
Instead, God has reminded me time and time again that allowing my children to bloom is about faithfully giving them gentle and appropriate doses of content, activity, correction and praise, and dealing with character formation (their heart).
One day, I know each of my children will bloom when they are ready. They have in many ways but I know God is not done with them and I still have a big responsibility to fulfill. In the meantime, I am enjoying the little surprises — the glimpses of who they will become as God’s plan for their lives unfolds. It is moments like Titus’ “it’s amazing” comment, that feel like God’s encouraging nudges along the homeschooling journey. It’s like he says to me, “See, they are all turning out alright! I’ve got it under control. Just keep going!”