I was overwhelmed by all that I needed to do to prepare my children when school started this year. I have a child in kindergarten, a 3rd grader, a 4th grader, and a 6th grader who is preparing to take the entrance examinations for science curriculum high schools. Aside from readying school supplies, I needed to prepare myself for the yearlong ordeal of supporting my children in their academic journey.
What concerns me most is not if they learn little in school but if they learn nothing from me. For me, school is but a complimentary program when it comes to a child’s learning. I know I play a big role in the secular well-being of my children but with all the chores and taking care of a baby, I feared I may not be up for the task. I asked the Lord for help to condition my heart and my mind for what is coming. As I looked back to the last school year – things I did alright, things that I needed to improve on and things that I need to stop doing – I realized that there are a few things that I need to stop saying as well.
The internet is a big help when searching for information. Regardless, I strongly feel I am not really helping them learn if I keep on passing them off to Google whenever they have a question. One reason for this is that as good of a research tool as the internet is, it is also an avenue for distraction. There are things that we can do to minimize kids’ dependence on the internet. We can answer their questions directly if we know the answers to their inquiry. We can also refer them to books. Encyclopedias, dictionaries and other print references are a good way to increase their interest in reading. This way, they will know how to navigate their way through information. They will know the way we did before there ever was the Cloud.
“Were you not listening?”
After school is really taxing. Not only for the children but also for a mother who needs to prepare meals to feed a family of 7. There have been times when my children have asked me questions about their homework and I asked them in return, “Were you not listening?” It’s not that I intentionally wanted to dismiss them. I was just curious how they did not understand when they were the ones sitting in the classroom with a teacher presenting their lesson. Yet the question, from their perspectives, can sound belittling.
We must understand that when kids come to us for help with their homework, it does not always mean they do not know how to do it. It sometimes means they want affirmation from us or they need attention. One of my daughters asks me questions I know she already knows the answer to. Once, after I answered her, she smiled and said, “Are you proud of me, Mum?” Of course I said “Yes… All the time!”
“Go ask your Dad!”
Fathers who are hands-on with their children’s school activities are such a blessing. Yet, children have the tendency to ask Mother for help when it comes to homework and school projects. No matter how smart their father is, I am the one bombarded with, “Why is the sky blue?” and “How do I get the greatest common factor for these fractions?” and “Who is the first person in the Philippines?” When I get overwhelmed with all the fuss, I sometimes turn their curious attention to their father.
There is nothing wrong with that, I guess. Nevertheless, I do not like how I feel after they all go to their father because I haven’t tried helping them at all. It is important that we try our hardest to teach our children before we ask other people to do so. We can also tandem teach with our spouses. This way they can learn from both parents.
“You’ll know when you get older…”
One of the biggest questions in life is, “How are babies made?” Have you ever thought of how you would teach this topic to a 4-year-old? I have… But nothing can prepare you for the actual moment when your toddler pops that million-dollar question. Fearing that I may not be able to deliver the lecture properly, I thought it would be so much easier to tell my daughter, “You’ll know when you get older…” But there is danger to this strategy.
What if they get the information from somewhere else? Can we be assured that they will be taught the sanctity of the procreation process? Or will the information be presented in a malicious way? Sometimes we underestimate the capacity of our children to process information. Because of that, we limit their capacity to learn. Whenever a child asks questions, make it an opportunity to teach them. They will always find an answer. It is assuring to know that we, their parents, are the ones who gave it to them.
In Doctrine and Covenants 93:42, it states “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.” One of the purposes of coming to this life is to learn. As parents, we hold a sacred trust to teach our children. Consequences for obeying or disobeying this mandate are very apparent and far reaching. The adversary is ever-diligent in his desire to misinform and mislead our little ones, and we must not let him. We need to learn ourselves and then teach our children light and truth, so they will not be deceived by the snares of Satan. We cannot hand this over to school or to Google or to other people. It is our sacred duty.