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"But You Don’t Know Josh"

Joan Hill—a former Christian schoolteacher, administrator, author, and popular workshop speaker—gets many questions about education. But it is her additional experience as mother of four (three boys) and grandmother of thirteen (five boys) that she draws from to answer mom’s questions like the ones in this article.

Why is Josh like he is?

Well, it would help if every time you looked at Josh, you said to yourself, "God made him that way." As a mother, you need understanding and wisdom from God in teaching your son because your son is not like you, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And don’t expect Josh to be like Emily either. Most mothers understand the Emilys. It’s the Joshes that we need to study.

In your teaching of and living with Josh, try to think about him as an adult. He’s going to be a man! Does that do anything to you? As you teach Josh, you are teaching a future leader, husband, and father (to say nothing about his fathering your own grandchildren). What a responsibility! The image Josh gets of you and the image you give him of himself will affect him for the rest of his life. Is that important? Definitely!

God put into Josh characteristics that are peculiar to men. Let’s try to look at life the way Josh does. From an early age, he has seen his daddy go off to work in some kind of vehicle. (Do we wonder why boys love cars and trucks so much?) Josh does not go with Daddy; he stays with Mommy and does all the woman things she does. However, his life begins when Daddy gets home and they can go outside to work on the car, check on the dog, or just talk. What a life! When Daddy gets home! Then after five or so years, who starts being his teacher? Not his dad; his mother. Can you blame Josh for being a little grouchy or stubborn sometimes? All day long, he faces a person, the one who used to be his comfortable mommy, but who is now saying, "Your handwriting should be better; do that again." Or telling him in a kind of irritated voice, "You know that word: I just taught it to you yesterday." And all the time, he’s wishing that maybe his dad or his grandpa could be his teacher.

Mothers, let’s think about how you can turn the stubborn little Josh into a participating, enthusiastic Josh. Josh has a problem that Emily doesn’t have: this teacher (Mom) is not like him. "So what can I do?" you ask. God has given you the task of establishing Josh’s attitude toward females. How important is his attitude toward the opposite sex? Extremely important!

You see, your Emily wants to impress you because she sees herself in you. Josh does not want to impress you; nor does he see himself in you. And you don’t want him to; you want him to see himself in his dad or his grandpa. He puts up with waiting for Dad to get home so he can do the same things his dad and grandpa do. How wonderful! How normal! How like God meant it to be!

How can I reach Josh?

Now that you understand Josh a little bit better, what can you do in your home classroom to catch his interest, to teach him, to motivate him? Mothers, in planning the activities and assignments for Josh, why not gear most of them to Josh’s interests. Let’s look at what interests Josh.

Well, Josh enjoys getting dirty, being outside, taking things apart and putting them back together, making noise, moving around, and playing with anything that has a motor and wheels. Josh likes thinking, investigating, giving you his opinion (you might call that arguing), solving problems, being the leader, experimenting, answering questions the girls can’t answer, being with men, and, maybe, showing off. He also loves the weather, the news, anything that has to do with a ball, and success. You see what I’m getting at? You know what? These are the same things Josh’s dad likes. Now isn’t that interesting?

Some immediate help

The following are suggestions to help you plan things for Josh. By the way, all these are good teaching methods too.

Josh Likes to:

  • give his opinion. Hold lively discussions after silent reading with giving opinions as part of this.
  • think. Give him more interpretative and critical reading questions; he’s bored with the literal ones.
  • experiment and investigate. Do science experiments with chemicals, motors, car parts, tools, animals, and moving parts.
  • find success. Work on his composition with him so that the final grade gives him success in language.
  • show off. Do lots of oral communication, drama, storytelling, and sharing of activities.
  • solve problems. Every day or week, think up a good problem involving lumber, building, the car, the truck, the garage, or something inside the house that only he can solve (just like real life).
  • create. Let him make up math problems for someone else to solve.
  • be outdoors. Go outside to draw a tree, stream, flower, or hill. Go on nature walks and field trips. Sit on the grass when you do a needed grammar page or necessary drills.
  • be the leader. Let him figure out how to do the science experiment and tell you what to do.
  • discuss the weather. Let him give the weather report, talk about coming storms, or predict the weather for the coming day.
  • talk to men. Let him interview his grandpa, or any man, in connection with a given subject.

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