Modeling is perhaps one of the easiest and most effective ways we can help order our children's affections. Our children look to us to see what this world is all about. From the time they are little babies and toddlers, they imitate our words and actions. We are always showing them how to love and what to love with our words and actions. We must model a love for the true, good, and beautiful. We must have an enthusiasm for all that we are learning together. We must show them how to be a student filled with awe and wonder at God's creation. We must show them how to be a student filled with great zeal and eagerness to learn new things.
But what if we must teach a subject we do not love?
I usually find it quite easy to model a love of learning. The study of art, music, history, and science for example have always been very exciting to me. However, as a young child in elementary school, I never liked math. As I began to teach math to my children, I often worried that I would not be able to teach it well because I did not love it. I certainly did not want my children to sense that I was dreading the subject. Luckily, I figured out that I can, at first, "fake" liking it. They say, "fake it until you make it" and this seemed to work for me. It became easier to "fake" it when I realized that I could try to find something to like about math, even if it was very small. If you have ever seen the movie "Pollyanna" then you might be familiar with the "glad game". Pollyanna was always able to find something to be glad about, in almost any circumstance. This is exactly what I did while teaching math. I found something, anything that I could like about it. One example, was the colorful and very effective math blocks in the Math U See program. They are fun! They make so much sense too. Another example is when I was teaching my oldest to subtract multiple digit numbers with regrouping (something I remember hating is school) we began to work the problem out separately at the same time, my daughter did her work in her math book while I did my work on the board. Then, we checked to see if we got the same answer. It was a fun way to do math together and love the process a little more. I believe finding something to be glad about in every subject we teach is possible. After all, God reveals a little of himself to us in every subject. And, if I can find something to love about math again and again, then maybe you can do it with a subject you struggle to love!
Ideas for modeling
Here are few ideas for modeling a love for the true, good, and beautiful:
- Immerse yourself in the things you love. If you love history, let your children see you studying history. Talk about your studies at the dinner table. If you love to read, be sure to let your children see you reading for pleasure each day. It is very important to me that my children see me as a book lover, so I plan quiet reading time on the couch each day. My children read books of their own choosing while I read a book too. If you enjoy baking, set aside baking time each week. I am sure to put baking into our weekly rotation of morning work because I love it so much. I want my children to see me making time for the things I love.
- Share what you love with your children. What hobbies and pursuits do you enjoy the most? Do you love flowers and gardening? Study botany together. Find living books, reference books, and field guides on flowers and plants. Create a garden space with your children. Start a botany lesson book. Keep a garden notebook.
- Bring back your "first loves". What hobbies and pursuits have you done in the past and do not make the time for today? Introduce them to your children. If you used to draw or paint but seldom do any more, start doing it again. Include your children. Give them some paint and paper and do it together at the table in the afternoon after your formal lessons are complete. Or, you could add painting into the lessons you are already doing. If you are studying the stars and planets in the sky, you could use watercolors in your astronomy lesson book. If you used to play the piano but rarely sit down to play any more, then put some music into your day, maybe play the hymns on the piano during Morning Time.
- Learn new things alongside your children. Is there something you would love to learn about or study in depth? If so, do it with your children. I became very interested in the birds in our backyard. So, we began reading aloud The Burgess Bird Book for Children. We read many other living picture books about birds. We got a couple of field guides on birds too. We put up bird feeders and bird houses in our backyard. We began to see and know by name many kinds of birds. My children began adding the birds we saw to their Nature Journals and I keep my own Nature Journal with drawings of birds, descriptions, and a record of when we first spotted them. Now we all delight in seeing a new bird in our backyard and watching the familiar birds as they return again and again. If we ever see a new bird, I am not sure which one of us is most excited to watch intently and then run off and grab our field guide to identify it.