Dear Readers,

I need to confess something to you all. I really disliked History in school. Really. I am so tempted to use the four letter word hate because that is how much I used to really dislike history. However, I try not to use the word hate at all. It’s such a, well… hateful word.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the lightbulb switched above my head and I actually wanted to learn more about history. I discovered a secret that has helped me and has stayed with me ever since.

NOT-SO-SECRET, SECRET ONE: 

If you want your student to get engaged in a subject that they dislike, then find what topics they do like and then marry the two together. Simple.

Okay…Most of us already know that. However, how many of us actually apply that to our daily home school routine? Isn’t it easier to stick with the program, get our hours in, and get to the fun? Come on, I know I am not the only one who likes a schedule, am I right? The problem is that when we do not make learning more personal, we miss an opportunity to find out the inner curiosities of our children: what they like and what they want to learn more about.

I hope I don’t get in trouble for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. If a child dislikes a subject there is a reason. Perhaps the teacher isn’t getting through.

Before you click off of this page, give me a minute to share with you why I think this is true.

I disliked history because my teacher was boring. (Wow, I hope he isn’t reading this.)

It’s the truth.

He would stand like a statue in front of the class, never moving, never changing the tone or inflection of his voice and he began class the same way, every day, every year.

Remember the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Remember the scene when the teacher is calling Ferris’ name to take attendance, and he keeps repeating Bueller, Bueller, Bueller…in the same voice over and over? Well my class was like that. It was all I could do to stay awake. And, when I caught his attention  because I was nodding off, he would call me out and say, “Stephanie, pay attention!”

I couldn’t. My inner self said, “Why bother? It is HISTORY- why should it matter? I can’t even stay awake!”

Believe me it wasn’t because I was tired either. My Mom and Dad were very good about me getting the proper amount of rest, so the fault was mine. Or, so I thought….

NOT-SO-SECRET, SECRET TWO

Making a subject personal to the student will engage them and keep them interested.

Let’s fast forward a few years…I graduated Vice President of my class with honors and scholarships, went to college, went to beauty school, married my husband, Scott, who is just as awesome as he is handsome. And then, Scott and I decided we wanted more…

We decided we wanted to serve in ministry, and suddenly History became my favorite subject!

It’s true.

I promise to you right now, I had a full 360 degree turnaround. You see, I grew up in church, and had listened and enjoyed Sunday School for as long as I can remember. I know all the Bible characters and stories, and Scott had the same privilege.

The leadership at our church thought we would be great as Sunday School teachers, and wanted us to serve. They needed help, so we said yes. It was then that I felt something click: a deep responsibility to my class.

I realized we only had one hour with them each week, and that we had to captivate and interest them so that they would remember the lesson.

NOT-SO-SECRET, SECRET THREE:

Use the ordinary to create the extraordinary. Never let them forget a lesson.

Scott and I taught our class of precious little two and three year olds about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The week before I was supposed to teach I got a bright idea that the children should make sound effects when I shared the story in the scriptures. I decided that they would love to make the sounds of a donkey walking on the road.

Click, clack. Click, clack.

I thought and thought about what item could make that sound, and God gave me the idea to use COCONUTS!

I went to the store and bought coconuts. Now I had no idea at the time how hard it would be to make this sound effect prop work, all I knew was that I wanted to cut the coconuts in half and scoop out the flesh to make hollow cups. In my mind the children would hold the coconut halves

in their tiny hands and make a click, clack, clop, clop, clop, noise as we talked about the donkey walking into Jerusalem with Jesus on his back. Oh my! Was I in for a task.

Imagine me using every kitchen knife known to man to cut these things in half. I was a young teacher, and there was no Google or YouTube around to come to my rescue. NOTHING was working.

You know what I had to do? I had to call my Uncle who had a table saw in his workshop and he had to use his sad machine to cut each one in half, I would have been in my kitchen for days doing it my way. Of course he asked what in the world I as up to, and when I shared with him, he laughed and shook his head. He smiled and approved and I got my donkey sound effect.

By the way, the kids loved it, and so did our church leadership. Today that first class we taught are now grown and graduated from high school. I wonder how many times they passed by the coconuts in the grocery store and thought of the Bible lesson we taught. Using an ordinary coconut we made an extraordinary lesson they’ll never forget.

NOT-SO-SECRET, SECRET FOUR:

Plan, then do.

So, the lesson learned from my coconut story is this: I should have planned better. I had the bright idea from God, but once I got the coconuts home, no kitchen tool that I had in my supplies  could crack those things in half. They had to be perfect halves to get the correct sound effects.

We’ve heard the saying if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Now don’t get me wrong, I’d rather try and fail then never try at all and get nowhere quick. In fact just last week Scott, my sweet husband, was telling me that he noticed a banner on Facebook that said FAIL BIG! He really liked the concept of the message. If you plan to succeed, and try and follow through with your plan, even if you FAIL BIG at least you got up off the sofa and did something. I couldn’t help but agree with him. Maybe that’s Not-So-Secret, Secret 4.5: Plan Big, Fail Big, Succeed Big!

The point is that we can either play catch up with our day, and play along, or we can have the baton and conduct a beautiful orchestra of events making a symphony of delightful moments that we want to create again and again.

Time is the one precious treasure we can not buy or duplicate. Before we know it our students will be orchestrating their own lives. Then we will be able to sit back, relax, and know that we did all we could to help them be their best. My prayer for all of us is YES!

There are many more secrets to life that we will need to teach, and I hope the four humble secrets I’ve shared moves you, encourages you, and motivates you to continue teaching with passion, joy, and most of all love.

So, what do you do if your child doesn’t like homeschool?  If this article has been helpful to you, please let us know in the comments section below!

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Stephanie Catlett

Stephanie is the mother of three spectacular children. As a Pastor's wife she has a strong desire to share Bible based lessons with her children just as her parents did then she was a young child. Homeschooling is a huge part of her family life going on six years now. Writing books is Stephanie’s “other” job and she is the proud Author and Illustrator to five children’s books with more on the way. Stephanie believes that inspiration is everywhere, and that dreams do come true! Get ready to be inspired, laugh, and dream big dreams. Enjoying every moment of the “mom” life is what Stephanie is all about. Visit Stephanie at www.StephanieCatlett.com

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