Training Kids to Try Again

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Ray and our friend Fran were chatting recently about the challenge of finding every big and little mistake before we send a new curriculum to the printer. Fran encouraged Ray with a lesson from her former boss. She said, “When I used to work at the post office in Whitleyville, the postmaster used to say, ‘Anyone who doesn’t make mistakes ain’t doing anything!'”

How true for all of us mere mortals. Helping children learn this can be a challenge. One of the crucial lessons homeschooling mamas need to teach their children is the old adage:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

How many times have I heard someone say, “I tried to learn to sew but I gave up because I was always having to rip something out”? I understand. I hate to rip stitches out, too, but sewing has brought me much joy and satisfaction. I am grateful that Mother began teaching me to sew when I was in fourth grade. She taught me that trying and redoing and trying again is part of the process of learning anything new. She was a beautiful example of doing that herself.

Surely every homeschooling mother has experienced times when a child despaired when she failed to get every answer correct the first time or when his marker slipped when he was almost finished with his masterpiece. The wise mother shows by word and example that mistakes are part of the process of learning and succeeding.

Mother and daughter in Greenhills, Ohio, 1938
Courtesy Library of Congress

Jesus told a parable about a man about to go on a journey who called his slaves to him and gave five talents to one, two talents to another, and one talent to another.

The man with five talents traded with them and gained five more. The two talent man traded with his two and gained two more. The man who received only one talent dug a hole and buried it until his master returned.

When the master returned, he praised the first two slaves and gave them more responsibility, but he condemned the man who buried his talent and told his master: “I was afraid . . . ”

Of course, we know exactly how our children feel when they try and fail and are afraid to try again. Sometimes mamas try and then get discouraged by failures, and even get so afraid that they give up on homeschooling altogether.

We all need to remember that those who don’t make mistakes aren’t doing anything!

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:29-31

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One comment

  1. Dear Mrs. Notgrass,

    This will be my 26th year homeschooling, which is amazing to see that number typed out. I often laughingly say that I shouldn’t be doing it anymore because I have gotten so tired over the years. That is true but it is also true that I treasure the time I have at home with my one remaining homeschooled child, who is only 8.

    I found your curriculum years ago and they have been such a blessing to our family over the years. We have used all the elementary and middle school studies. We chose to transition our children to private Christian high school so I haven’t used your upper level curriculums but I’m sure they are just as wonderful. I am anxiously awaiting the new world geography! We are spreading Our 50 States between 2nd and 3rd grade so this will be the perfect study in which to transition.

    I have received your emails for some time. I don’t always get to read them but I decided to start consistently reading your encouragement posts in the hope of getting a little kickstart going into this next year. After I read this and said a little prayer for your family, I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to actually write and tell you “thank you” instead of just praying it. I apologize for this coming at you in a comments box instead of on lovely stationary but I do write a sincere thank you for the many ways your family has blessed ours over the years.

    I continue to pray for your ministry and I look forward to using your products for years to come should God allow me to continue mine.

    Love in Christ,
    Katherine Phillips

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