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    by Mike McHugh

Capitalizing on the Energy of Youth
Date Posted: April 17, 2008

Most parent educators are blessed to have children that are eager to learn, and very active. As any home educator can tell you, however, energetic students can also provide plenty of routine challenges. Such students, if not properly handled, will often end up exhibiting discipline problems that can absorb an enormous amount of a teacher’s weekly schedule. The good news for educators that have the responsibility of keeping active or “hyper” students engaged in the learning process, is that such a task does not need to be a huge burden or tug-of-war.

The first principle that parent teachers need to recognize, is that the seemingly boundless energy that some of their students possess must be directed or channeled rather than routinely suppressed. In other words, it is far better for instructors to attempt to harness and direct the natural God-given disposition of their students, than to determine to try to work against it. The home school environment, it should be noted, provides educators with the degree of freedom and flexibility that they need to routinely address the individual needs of high-strung students. Traditional school teachers, on the other hand, are hard pressed to be able to routinely provide personalized instruction and scheduling for such students.

As hard as it may be for some home educators to recognize, high-strung students, if properly directed, can actually provide a valuable boost to the learning environment of a school. On the other hand, when parent teachers attempt to suppress all expressions of youthful exuberance in a heavy-handed manner, the results can often be disastrous.

Obviously, there are times when home educators must “lay down the law” and reign in students who are simply out of control or rebellious. This fact, however, does not alter the working principle mentioned above. Children need to be kept busy generally, and very high-spirited youngsters need to be kept very busy. Simply put, energetic students need to have a way to blow off their extra steam in such a way that they learn how to make constructive use of their time and talents. Wise teachers will, therefore, make the effort to develop planned activities for their students to follow when they are not directly engaged in their general studies.

Although there is no one method that all teachers must follow when it comes to planning extracurricular educational activities, in most cases, instructors should regularly give needy students the following:

  1. Something to draw, build, or create in a hands-on fashion
  2. A topic to research, or something to count or invent
  3. An item to clean, polish, or restore
  4. Famous quote or Scripture passage to memorize, copy, or color
  5. Give them some project to design and complete with Legos or similar building materials.

Learning how to creatively harness and direct energetic students can be challenging, but those home educators who make the effort to work with and not against such children will be richly rewarded. Like it or not, the Lord has given a fast motor to some children, and it is the duty and privilege of parents to train these little dynamos to be productive kingdom workers.

Christian home school parents must never buy into the modern humanistic notion that very active children are abnormal, sick, and in need of being heavily medicated in order to make them more manageable. God has a better plan in view for high-spirited youth. So-called “hyper” students, generally speaking, will respond much better to a planned regiment of extracurricular activities, than to dangerous mind-altering drugs. At the very least, home school parents who have very energetic children should exhaust all of their options, including the ones outlined in this article, before they consider more drastic alternatives.

Above all, it must be remembered that energetic children are not a liability, but a blessing that must be handled carefully and prayerfully.

Copyright 2008 Michael J. McHugh

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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