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What does training look like? - Issue 128
November 20, 2009
Hi there! ....

This week I had a lesson planned which was just not working. It was obvious that I needed to give it up. I gave it up, I picked up, I gave it up, I picked up – four times I told the kids “No, we are going to push on here”. Finally I gave it up. It was not working. I was in tears, I felt overwhelmed with how much it did not work. The children were very gracious! They gave me cups of tea, hugs, and checked in on me. Peter was home and I dumped on him that I could not teach geography to the kids. He just listened. God then started to bring peace to my heart. I started to see that I had blown this up out of all proportions. Then it struck me – what was I doing? I had walked away from the very principles and practices that I know work. During this afternoon melt down I realised that because I feel like I know very little about geography I picked up a textbook. Why? I don’t even like textbooks!! The answer wasn’t in the textbook, the answer was in understanding the keywords of geography and seeing these things in our real life, and in living books. Is there something that isn’t working in your homeschooling? How have you responded? Let me encourage you, based on my lessons this week, not to rush into our first reaction (textbook) but rather sit back and think on it, and make sure that your decisions line up with your belief system.

Live life with your kids!

What does training our children look like?

Sometimes we can use a word so often that the real meaning gets watered down by familiarity. Training is such a word. What does training our children look like?

Before I was married I worked in various offices and needed, on two occasions, to train a replacement. When the young girl started out I just gave her the little jobs (in terms of responsibility) – the photocopying, cleaning the kitchen, wrapping parcels, typing letters etc. Then slowly, bit by bit, I would teach her new aspects of the job mostly by having her work beside me. Then I would start giving her more responsibility. I’d give her the jobs I knew she could do well and I would remove myself from that task. I’d say, “I’m going for a cuppa now, you can answer the phones.” I’d be close by in the kitchen but she would have the responsibility. Then a little later I’d remove myself a little further by going to do the banking, and maybe staying out for lunch. She’d cope well and I’d continue showing her new aspects of her new job. Eventually I felt that she had things under control and I’d stay home for the day – I had the phone nearby (these were the days before mobile phones!!) But by this stage my job was done. This is exactly what our training of our children needs to be like.

We teach them, having them live beside us, then slowly we start giving them more responsibility (expecting them to do it by themselves), initially we stay close by but eventually they can be totally by themselves.

There are four key aspects to training and these are the same whether you are training in a sport skill, a lifeskill, academic or moral skill.

  • Model
  • Teach
  • Practice
  • Expect

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

We cannot take shortcuts. When we tell them, expect it of them and then discipline them for their failures (without any showing, teaching, practicing) we are actually frustrating the child. We cannot discipline for those things we have not trained in. God gives parents the responsibility and when we discipline for the things that we have not trained in we are avoiding our responsibility and by snapping at our kids we put the blame onto their shoulders. Once again, I am reminded that parenting is all about being a switched on adult. It is not about what my children do, but what I do with what they do.

The key is that we need to be diligent in each of these stages and not rush onto the next one before we have done the work necessary for the previous phase.


  • We need to remember that our instruction is never as loud as our example. Read a short story on Instructions or Example
  • Have them working along side of you from a young age – this develops both your heart and their heart to be together. We live in an individualistic society – we have to learn to live together and enjoy it!
  • We need to be working on issues in our own life now, we cannot afford to use our weaknesses as excuses in the training (or lack of) in our children’s lives.
Teach – Instruct
  • Give instructions - say what you mean and mean what you say
  • Have a clear standard and work towards that standard every day
  • Don’t speak unless you can follow it up
  • Use Role-plays and stories to help them understand what it looks like
  • Give moral reason why when appropriate
  • Our goal is to help them get it
  • Practice, practice, practice – makes it (not perfect) but makes it mine. We want our children be able to do this (whatever this is) without our presence or prompt. They need to ‘own’ these behaviours and/or skills.
  • You’ve reached the time where they can do it now, give them the responsibility. Let them do the things you’ve trained them to.
  • Let go, stop telling, reminding, prompting – let them fail and deal with the consequences
  • Hold them accountable – let there be consequences

Keys to remember

  • Repetition, repetition, repetition – you may need to go over these steps, over and over and over again
  • Retraining, or the thought that we are retraining is one of the biggest unmotivators for parents. But the truth is - If they don’t have it they don’t have it! Being frustrated at the seeming retraining doesn’t help. We need to just recognize where they are at and train from that point. If they don’t have it – then it isn’t really called re-training. If they don’t have it you are still in the teaching/practicing levels.
  • Correction is about getting them on course – like corrections that a pilot makes when flying a plane. It is not punishment. Do your disciplines help them get back on track, or are they just told off?
  • It takes time to go through this process thoroughly. It may well take 1-3 months for a child to learn something. That is okay. You will repeat this mode/teach/practice/expect for every skill that your child needs to learn. It is a long term project!
  • We need to create situations where we have the opportunity to train. We cannot avoid conflict, training is bound to cross their wills.
  • Each child is different but the standard remains the same – it may take a child a longer time to get there, it may take using different consequences, different examples in our instructions, but we are always aiming for the standards as we see them in God’s Word.
  • Choose your battles – you choose on the grounds of what is going to be effective at this stage in your life, in your family life, in the life of the child. Be effective in your training.
  • Be there – we cannot train if we are not there right next to them

Further Reading: 5 Keys to Consistency

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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