10 Positive Phrases to Encourage Your Homeschooled Child
By Gina Munsey
Discipline and correction are hot topics in Christian parenting circles, aren’t they? Browse any Christian book store or homeschool convention flyer, and you’ll find scores of author and speakers promising solutions to the ongoing challenge of child rearing. Amidst all the voices, here are some practical words based on biblical principals to encourage and support your homeschooled child as they learn.
Hebrews 12:6 reminds us “the Lord disciplines the one he loves.” And as the Message version translates the last half of the verse, “the child he embraces, he also corrects.” Discipline is crucial. We need to teach our children right from wrong; there’s no doubt about that.
I’m not undermining the importance of discipline. But there’s more to parenting than discipline. Or, perhaps more succinctly, there’s more to discipline than correction alone.
Our Heavenly Father Models Encouragement for Us
Psalm 23 gives us a peek into God’s heart, allowing us a glimpse of a loving shepherd who offers us comfort and—I love this part— peaceful meals. It paints such a wonderful picture of rest, doesn’t it? Another of my favorite passages, Isaiah 41:10, promises us “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
What a profound example of comfort! Our heavenly Father corrects, chastises, and disciplines us, yes—but he also is a source of deep, active encouragement as he strengthens, helps, and holds us. He is our refuge. If you’ve ever listened to archives of Elisabeth Elliot’s radio show, you’ve heard her trademark words from the second half of this verse in Deuteronomy 33: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Fellow parents, God is our role model when it comes to parenting. And we can offer ourselves—our love and our actions and our homeschools, too— as a refuge to our children. However imperfect, we have the immense privilege of being the physical manifestation of His everlasting arms.
We Can Encourage our Children with These Practical Phrases
What does nurturing encouragement really look like in the midst of our real-life, every-day, ordinary homeschool routines? How can we practically encourage our kids while they’re in the throes of handwriting practice, history read-alouds, and science experiments?
While different personalities respond to different methods—you probably have at least a cursory familiarity with the Five Love Languages— supportive words of affirmation can go a long way in communicating encouragement to your kids. When you tackle the Couch Subjects, snuggle your kids, and read Sonlight books aloud, you’re already deeply invested in two more love
languages: quality time and physical touch.
Here are some phrases—tested by fellow Sonlighters—you can use to give your children a boost.
1. “Now you’re on target!”
Sonlighter Jenny N. explains how this phrase lets her kids know they are on the right track even prior to reaching mastery. We all need this, don’t we? We’re all in the middle of something, a work in progress, aiming toward a goal.
2. “I knew you could do it!”
It’s powerfully motivating to know someone believes in you, isn’t it? Sonlighter Megan J. says this phrase goes a long way for her children, too.
3. “You can do hard things!”
Shanna C. was one of many Sonlighters who shared this and similar phrases, encouraging kids to rise to the challenge and overcome difficult obstacles. We all can do hard things!
4. “You can. You haven’t yet, but that’s not the same as can’t.”
I love this, from Sonlighter Katie A. She acknowledges the struggle, then gives her kids a boost of confidence. The simple word yet is immensely compelling.
5. “You finished strong!”
Perseverance is such a crucial life skill. Sonlighter Rachel J. affirms her children’s perseverance and diligence with this encouraging phrase. And it brings to mind Hebrews chapter twelve, verse two: “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” It’s a truth which will last long after the homeschooling years are over.
Beyond Productivity, Also Affirm Your Child’s Personhood
I also think it’s extremely important to encourage children individually—apart from productivity, separate from any of their efforts. Boost and appreciate children solely on the basis of their existence as unique creations, formed by the hand of God. After all, we are not loved because of our actions or because of what we can offer to God, but simply, gloriously,
because we are His. Isn’t this a marvelous, emboldening, life-giving reality? I like to remind my own daughter of these truths:
6. I am so glad God created you.
7. What a gift God gave us when he brought you!
8. Do you know how much joy you bring into this family?
9. There’s no one else quite like you. God designed you perfectly!
10. Have I told you lately how happy I am that you exist?
The Psalmist echoes these same truths when he rejoices to his maker in Psalm 139, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Weary mama, speaking life into your little ones as you dutifully serve Him, you too are loved and known by God. As you encourage your children, may our Father God also encourage you. You are beloved!
Gina Munsey is a Mexico-born, Eastern Europe-raised missionary kid who ended up in Nashville, Tennessee. A blogger for 16+ years, editor, magazine contributor, co-op teacher, and writer who has only completed four chapters of her languishing memoir, Gina spends her days full of coffee and adventures while helping her asynchronous daughter with Chinese homework. You can find Gina at sonlight.com/blog and oaxacaborn.com, or in the middle of [home]school surrounded by stacks and stacks of books.
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