Keys to Student Success

My third grader (Ellie) is now in Mr. Bowers’ Latin class, and the learning curve for Ellie, my wife and me has been steep as we’re adjusting to the system, curriculum and language.  It has reminded us some things that bear mentioning, though they are not inspired.

A little bit every day is far better than a lot on two days.

 Our Latin classes only meet twice a week, but as a teacher of languages (Spanish and English) for over ten years, I can’t stress strongly enough the value of frequent practice.  Though we cannot immerse our students in a Latin-language culture, we can practice with them daily.  And the same thing applies to all of the disciplines.    Whether it’s the daily singing of the Acts through Revelation song, or the Mammals song, or the recitation of the Bible verse(s), or going through a stack of math fact cards, or reading the Bible, frequent and shorter times of study are better than cramming on Mondays or Fridays.  

Frequent and shorter is usually fresher and sharper.  

I know that my kids need breaks in order to retain their focus.  As students get older, they can go longer between breaks, but even the oldest kids (like us 30-somethings) need breaks.  Having your student recite the Bible verse or conjugations or declensions on a walk to the park is sometimes better than more formal, structured focused “school” time.  Playing the Bible class song in the car is sometimes better than at the homeschool table. You get the picture.

Happy Christian warriors have a life. 

We want our students to work hard at school and hard at home, but the “hard at home” part does not necessarily mean “long.”  Our kindergartners will not have as much homework as our secondary students, and that is by design.  But in no case do we want for our students to neglect leading robust, rounded lives for sake of homework.  Our intention is for the lessons they learn at school (academic and otherwise) to contribute to the roundness of their character.  

So, as you do the same thing, don’t feel guilty if you have your students abstain from any homework at all on Sundays, or if you send them outside to play with the neighbor kids before dinner, even if they aren’t finished with their math facts.  (Mr. Bowers is going to punch me….)  We want them to learn how to work diligently and hard, but this process is long (in fact, a generation long), and we know there are bigger things in view than punching the homework time clock.  When homework becomes busywork, we miss the point.

To be clear, I am NOT saying that they need to not return to their math facts after dinner (maybe, maybe not; that’s not the point).  But I am saying this: ECS is here to serve you, not the other way around.  We are assisting you in the enculturation of your children; you’re not assisting us.  When school is running your life, it’s time to revisit priorities. Of course, this all requires balance and wisdom.  Hard work is important, and so is robust, celebratory, vibrant living…even for kids. By God’s grace, with our collective faithfulness, our students will develop the work ethic we want for them…while finding time to ride bikes in the cul-de-sac.  

Risus est bellum!