Teaching the Way my Mother Taught

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
Proverbs 1:8-9

Often I hear from people when they find
out that I home school, wow, I could never do that, I am not a
teacher, how do you do it, etc. I chuckle to myself because I too am
not a teacher. So, I was thinking last night, how do I do it. I
know I do all things through Christ Jesus, but practically how do I
do it. So, I realized I do it the way my mom taught me to teach. Here are the things I learned from my mom either by watching her teach or actually from her instructions to me on how to teach. Growing up in a pastor’s home, we learned to start
teaching young, either teaching Sunday school, children’s church or
at VBS, or just where ever the need was. I think I first started
teaching, of course at home, with my younger foster/adopted siblings.
But, it was very young that I started teaching at Bible clubs, VBS,
and such, maybe around 10 years old. We learned to teach others
practical skills, Biblical training, and academic tutoring. So, here
is what I learned.

Practices of Purposeful and Productive teaching I learned from my mom:

1. Be Passionate

I watched my mom teach kids to sing and praise God even though she is not
gifted in the area of music (sorry mom, but you know it is
true.)  Those kids she taught never knew she wasn’t a great musician
because she was so passionate about the songs, and the words of
Praise to God. She taught motions, and always was animated in her
face and body as she taught. I remember once coming home from
teaching a Wednesday night children’s program, and saying mom, “they
aren’t listening, they aren’t interested.” She said, “Kate, you
have to be passionate about every part of the teaching. If you
believe what your teaching, be excited about it. If your excited
then they are going to be interested in knowing why your so excited
about what your telling them.” I have found this true, I use this
method to teach exciting truths from God’s word, but also to teach
simple lessons like toilet training. By talking up using the
toilet, and being excited about every attempt and over the top
excited about every success, my kids have learned there is something
cool about using the toilet. It doesn’t matter what I am teaching,
if I can find a reason to be passionate about it, then it creates an
interest and desire in my students to want to learn it.

2. Be Purposeful
You have to plan and be prepared. Knowing the materials I am teaching and
understanding them first, sometimes doing extra research, helps me
be ready to answer those curious kids questions. I can’t just teach
for the sake of teaching, there has to be a purpose for what we are
teaching, and kids have to understand that purpose to want to learn.
I actually learned this from both my parents. I wasn’t a great
academic student and my dad would often spend hours working on
homework with me as a child. But, one subject I absolutely loved
was math. Why? The answer is easy my dad showed me how it applied
in everyday life. When I was young we played grocery shopping
games, learning how to be frugal and how to estimate your total
bill, and even how to add the actual prices quickly. Then as I got
older he showed me how to do budgets and do taxes, to measure and
build, he and mom showed how to measure things in the kitchen, and
so on and so on. These were taught naturally and brought purpose to
learning math. Again this can be used in Biblical training and
instructing as well as in academic teaching. Critical thinking was
taught around the dinner table, with mom asking pointed questions
and us sharing varies answers. These things didn’t just happen
though, mom and dad had to make them happen.

3. Prizes, projects, papers, and paper clips

– I remember when I first started teaching at VBS,
my mom was in charge of VBS and she was talking to all the
volunteers preparing us for the week. She said, “Never let a child
go home empty handed.” She went on to explain that you always
want to give the children something to take home to help remind them
of what they were taught that day. I remember thinking I always
wondered about the trinkets over the years my mom would give to her
students in Sunday school, or other places. She went on to explain
that this memento would not only help them remember the teaching,
but would also give them a visual of how God blesses his people.
Here is the thing, we lived on a tight budget and sometimes I was
amazed at the things my mom would use to teach a lesson. It might
have been a rubber band (to show how God pulls us back to himself),
it might have been a paper clip (to show how we can be fastened
together with God’s people), it might have just been a piece of
paper for them to color on or write a verse on and take home, maybe
it was a sort of project (a song, dance, play acting, craft, etc.)
These often are not taking home in hand but in the heart or mind.
And yes, my mom taught that prizes are great teaching tools, she
would reward those who applied teaching with small prizes (a
sticker, a cookie, bouncy ball, a homemade certificate, etc.)

NOTE: I find kids today expect great rewards for little effort, but if again you present them a
reward with enthusiasm they see it as you do. Also, I am not saying
to reward for every little thing. No, hard work is expected and
recognized with a word of praise. Prizes should be rare to make
them more meaningful.

4. Press On –

This is the biggest thing my mom taught me. That same day that I came and told
her, I didn’t think the children in church were listening to me.
She told me not only to teach with passion, but to also press on
even when it seems no one is listening or learning. She said
(especially with middle school aged kids) that it may seem they are
bored and not interested and that they are not listening, but she
has found that if she pressed on and taught, they often truly were
listening. So, I learned to press on in each lesson. I will never
forget the day, that a boy I was sure never listened to me in class,
came to me a couple years later and told me that he always
appreciated and enjoyed my class. He said that it was because of
the things I taught that he made a decision to become a Christian.
I would have never guess it.

So, these are four teaching tools I learned from my mom. The funny thing is I am pretty sure if you asked my mom if she is a teacher, she would say NO. I too, do not
have the gift of teaching, but God calls all of us to go into all the
World and teach the Good News, he also calls every parent to teach
His Word and His Way (Laws) to our children so that no generation
will ever forget what the Lord God has done for us. So, how and why
I home school is done for and thru the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is a link to another great teaching method based on Deuteronomy, written by a home school friend of mine. It is called, Hear, Learn, Keep, Do.
You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when
you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:19
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One response to “Teaching the Way my Mother Taught”

  1. Anne Avatar

    Katie, I’ve been struggling with discouragement teaching the kids in our Sunday school lately. Thank you for this post! My mom was a similar teacher in our church growing up (and pastor’s wife), and I needed to be reminded of these points.

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