from Dr. Kathy Koch

For many children, a new school year is beginning. That means a new year is beginning for you, too. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately: Regardless of the schooling choice, as students investigate content and dig into new lessons, I’d like to remind you that you need to study, too. 

Although teachers and homeschool parents need to look at curriculum, teacher’s guides, and all kinds of books and possible assignments to make important decisions about what children will learn this year, I believe the most important “thing” for you to study is your students. 

Study your students.

You teach children, you don’t teach math. You teach children, you don’t teach reading. You teach children, you don’t teach Bible. You get the point. For you to be especially effective and successful at the ministry of teaching, your focus needs to be on the children.

What do they expect from you this year? What expectations do they have for themselves? How would they love this year to be different from last year? What do they hope they learn this year? What would they love to not do?

What turns them on and what ticks them off? How do they respond when something is challenging? How do they respond when something is easy? What may motivate them to persevere during challenging times?

Study your students.

What learning methods work well for them? Which do they enjoy? How do they prefer to memorize material? Does movement help or hinder them? Does reading out loud and talking to someone help them understand and remember material? Does drawing what they’re studying help? Thinking deeply inside of themselves? Asking and answering questions? 

What about relationships? Do they appear to be needy? Lonely? Content? Hopeful? Do they have character qualities that will endear them to their peer group? Are they loyal? Dependable? Honest? Kind? Compassionate? 

If you homeschool your kids, stay alert to changes in your children because they want you to know and teach who they currently are and not who they used to be.

When you know your students, and they know you know them, it’s easier to meet their needs. 

Study your students.

You can observe carefully and you can ask them questions. Ask about and observe for their thoughts. What do they think about themselves, you, and their assignments and activities? Ask about and observe for their feelings. What do they feel about themselves, you, and their assignments and activities? What are their attitudes and what are their abilities? Maybe most importantly, what do they believe about themselves as they’re doing different things you’ve asked them to do? 

Your students’ thoughts, feelings, attitudes, abilities, and beliefs matter greatly. Know them by studying the children. Make this your assignment.