This is something I discovered in the process of teaching my own kids. We’ve been homeschooling for 37 years now. When I started, I , like most people purchased a curriculum and stuck by it. I just assumed that what the government schools taught was what everybody needed to know and that they taught those things when kids were developmentally ready to learn that information. I stuck doggedly by the books for the first few years, seeing that my kids finished every problem, completed every exercise just as it was written.
As time progressed, however, I realized that not all my children learned the same way. As a matter of fact, some learned VERY differently than their siblings had learned; techniques I’d used to teach many just didn’t work for all of them. I had to dare to think that perhaps there wasn’t one BEST way to teach all kids.
I remember one of the greatest joys was watching my kids develop an interest in certain areas. I came to watch them, study them,- their interests, their strengths, their weaknesses, what motivated them, what discouraged them, what made their eyes sparkle- and I took great delight in then supplying them with books, materials, supplies, so that they could pursue what interested them. I absolutely LOVED being the facilitator who carefully observed my children and then looked for “tools, books, etc”, to turn them loose on. I loved watching them become the person God had created them to be.
Obviously, sometimes a person has to be exposed to subject matter to know they have an interest in it. However, I am still amazed at how God creates every person special and many of those passions seem to be in them from the time they are small.
It’s amazed me over the years that character traits that seemed to be in the very fiber of their being were actually placed there by the Lord to help them accomplish the unique mission he had planned in eternity past for them to do. For instance, one of my sons is heavily involved in, and passionate about politics. But to him, his motivation is a super sense of truth and justice. This was present in him from a little boy. It sometimes was a bit of a challenge while raising him. He was so sensitive to hypocrisy . Everything was clearly black or white to him. He would often point out inconsistencies in others lives including mom and dad. I noticed he was sometimes blinded to his own inconsistencies, but as soon as he recognized them, he was quick to repent and man up to his recompense, whatever that may be. When he read the Scripture, he would be drawn to issues of truth and justice magnified, things others didn’t easily pick up on.
Through the years, he’s taken a lot of criticism from others for his stands on the issues. Being driven by a strong passion for truth, he just let criticism roll off his back. He always has told me, “Mom, when you take a stand for truth, you don’t have to defend it, just speak it. The truth defends itself.” He also assures me, “Mom, you have to be willing to have the right enemies. Truth offends. When you speak it, some people will take offense.” I’ve seen him accomplish incredible tasks in the public arena bearing incredible pressure, but upheld by his sense of justice and truth. He can articulate it to others because he sees it so clearly. This is just one instance of God shaping servants for future use. I could go on with other instances I’ve seen in some of my other kids- very different from this example.
I also realized people’s passions may change. One of my sons was intensely interested in many things for a certain amount of time. Then, he would move on to something else. For instance, here are some of the passions he moved through in a few years time: Leather work and selling belts, ant farm, tree identification, grafting, experiments in plant growth, cultivating raspberry bushes, building bird houses to attract specific types of birds to the yard, building garden ponds, investigating new ways to plant crops, raising chickens , ducks, hunting white- tailed deer, studying Indians- and consequently making deer jerky, carving a mug from wood, and making a canoe in our fireplace, learning survival skills. As he satisfied himself with one subject, he’d move on to the next.
You may be thinking, “How can I discover what passions my child has? “
- Ask them what they love to do? What do they do for fun? What makes their eyes light up. What do they go back to talking about when they can stimulate conversation? What do they think about often? What do they love to do so much that they beg you to allow them do?
- Kids often need to try something to see if it fits. Sometimes it will become a passion, sometimes they come to see they are not the ones to best do that function.
- Encourage your kids with praise. Don’t be too picky and micromanage them. Let them try things. Refrain from telling them,
“Oh, that will never work.” That’s what people told Tom Edison and Robert Fulton, too. Encourage them to try, teach them that failure is an expected part of life and is in fact a stepping stone to success.
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What an encouraging article! You mentioned that “This is just one instance of God shaping servants for future use. I could go on with other instances I’ve seen in some of my other kids…” Would you, please? I feel like I need more examples to really determine what’s a “bent” vs. just childish stubbornness or selfishness or some other character aspect we’re working on. Thank you!
Sure. Here’s a few more examples. One of my sons had a passionate interest in how things worked from the time he was very small. He loved to take things apart. I started asking people in church to give him their broken blow dryers, toasters, etc. They were going to throw them away anyway. So, I told them, hey, if he can fix it great. If not, you would have thrown it away anyway. He often was able to fix them. We would give him lumber and nails for his birthday and let him make things. When he was really little he would bang nails into fence posts. When he got older he made beautiful bookcases and sold them. He just saw how things worked. He is very skilled now. He used to stand there with his toolbox in hand as a very young 5 yr. old. I let him fix things. Now he’s so competent. He can do about anything, but we gave him the freedom as young boy to try things.
Another son would have interests in lots of different things for a short while. While interested that is all he thought about. He would work on something non-stop and then lose interest and go on to something else. We would supply him with materials and he experimented and learned to his heart’s content. He learned about so many things and it’s okay that he fulfilled his interest and tried other things. He can do so many things now.
We had one daughter who, when too young to talk, would get frustrated and scream. It was a brief period of a few months. She was trying to communicate and we didnt’ get it, and she was frustrated. That was normal and just childishness.
We had one child who would just not see things that needed to be done. I thought she was just avoiding work or doing it improperly, but I came to realize she just needed more direction. When I had her list everything that needed to be done for a job, then she did it. She just needed more direction.
We had one child who appeared angry when he was embarrassed or shy. We did our best after recognizing this- trying not to place him in embarrassing situations, but gave him time to naturally mature and become comfortable. People today can’t believe he was ever shy.
Hope that helps!
That was wonderful. Thank you so much!
You are so welcome. Feel free to share insights you get into understanding your child’s passion with us all.
Thanks for this post!
The Lord told my husband and I that the son I am pregnant with now (our #5) was going to be like your son called to politics and a passion for the truth. It’s very encouraging to read how you raise and homeschool your children. God’s recently been changing our views on homeschooling.