The Home School Court Report
No. 5

In This Issue


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by MaryAnn Gaver
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Beginning Today
Column Host
MaryAnn Gaver

How can we encourage our kids when they try something for the first time? Whether they approach a new endeavor with enthusiasm or trepidation, we can be there to guide them along the way. Life is really a series of beginnings, so why not let the beginnings be a springboard for growth?

Share Your Tips

This column is designed to feature teaching tips, encouragement, and advice from homeschooling parents.

Our topic for the January/February issue is “attitude.” How do you encourage your kids to accomplish tasks with a good attitude? Send us a brief description (150 words or less). Submissions may be edited for space. Mail submissions to:

Attn: Parent to Parent, HSLDA
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134

Or email us (include “Parent to Parent” in the subject line) at

Please include your name and address. Submission deadline is 9/10/08.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Commit your plans to the Lord before embarking on new ventures and activities, whether academic or recreational.
  • Teach your children that their talents can be used for God’s glory.
  • Realize that small steps can be a big deal. Getting started is just the first step. It takes time to get better at something. Encourage your child to keep going and to stick with it.
  • Know that mistakes will happen. You've been there. Remember how disheartening it was playing tennis the first few times, knowing that the ball was supposed to land in the other person’s court, but repeatedly hitting it over the fence? Tell your child not to give up and to keep trying.
  • Remember that God is sovereign in all things, and His plan will be accomplished.

Although they may or may not play music at Carnegie Hall or baseball at Wrigley Field, pray that your children learn valuable traits for the future, such as perseverance, faithfulness, and integrity.

Finally, keep in mind that modest beginnings can lead to big results. In the Bible, we see David playing the harp in the valley with his sheep, then one day being asked to play in the king’s court.

MaryAnn Gaver and her husband, Jay, have been homeschooling their twin sons for seven years.

Cheering Them out of Their Ruts

We have three children, ages 7, 5, and 2. All three prefer living in ruts. So anytime we introduce a new food or new activity, we’ve got to meet resistance head-on. Our strategy includes a little psychology and a great deal of cheerleading.

We set clear and very attainable goals for the first try. “Try just three beans.” “Write just one sentence.” “Glue this one piece right here.” Whatever they accomplish, we praise enthusiastically.

Then we slip in a little nudge: “Okay, let’s do it again. And this time, we’ll add one more.”

My firstborn takes failure very hard, and it’s because of her that we’ve learned to loudly appreciate what’s right and gently mention improvement. As soon as she’s assured that she’s making progress, our daughter is willing to try again.

—by Sara J. / Stephens City, VA

Relishing the Learning Process

With two children in college and one still being homeschooled, I’ve realized that there’s always another beginning no matter how old my children are! Here are some ways I approach new beginnings.

When children are trying something new, parents need to make clear that the child’s success is not an issue of right and wrong. If your child is trying his best under the circumstances and “messes up,” help him understand that he does not need to apologize. Instead, he needs to learn from his mistakes and keep trying.

Encourage children to do their best. That does not mean that they are the best. In Christ’s parable, the master did not expect the servant with 5 talents to reap the same result as the one with 10 talents; he rewarded both of them.

Let them know that God can use mess-ups and successes to show us where our weaknesses and strengths are. Bumping into something personally challenging can serve as an opportunity to learn to esteem and respect people who are good at that task.

Praise your children for having the courage to try. Fear and courage go together—if there was no fear, then courage would not be needed. So if they tried something that they were really scared of or worried about, they exercised courage.

—by Jane W. / Purcellville, VA