There is always Someone they can lean on, and His name is Jesus.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
As an expat living in South Africa, my kids have had to overcome many obstacles in a foreign classroom. From culture to communication styles to misunderstanding of homework expectations, they’ve had their fair share of tears. Starting in 4th grade in South Africa, students are required to take one of the local languages as a class. My son entered in 7th grade and was put in the lower level class since he was three years behind in Afrikaans studies. Despite the slower pace, he never fully caught up. Once he entered 8th grade, his frustrations caught up with him faster than his knowledge of the language. He was ready to give up.
As parents, we recognized his desperate place and stepped in, not to take away the difficulty but to set him up for success. Whether your child has a learning disability or they’re facing an obstacle such as a subject that is proving too difficult for their mind to grasp, perhaps the steps we took will help get your child on the road to success.
1. Offer encouragement. We told our son, “We’re not looking for perfection. We’re looking for effort.” We didn’t put the pressure on him of getting an A. We simply wanted him to try. Desperation tells us to give up, but hope inspires us to keep going. Our goal was to breathe some hope and courage into him and remind him that Jesus was there to lean on.
But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded. 2 Chronicles 15:7
2. Be present and proactive. Not erasing the obstacle does not equate to being inactive. Sometimes, to pull us out of the mud when we’re stuck, we need someone to grab our hand and give a yank. Unfortunately, neither my husband nor I were equipped to tutor him, so we contacted his teacher for options. She was more than happy to help, and before we knew it, tutoring sessions outside of school were set up. Being proactive and getting help jump started him onto a road of confidence.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
3. Relate and understand. Trying to understand where your child is coming from and telling personal stories of difficulties you’ve had to overcome in school can also go a long way. We all struggle at times, but still we frequently feel all alone when we’re walking through something hard. It’s comforting to know someone understands and has walked through similar things. Reading books helps us get through tough times. It Will Be Ok featuring Little Seed and Little Fox and the fears they have about life and Brave Girls Bible Stories which is full of stories of brave women in the Bible are a couple of great resources. My son hasn’t risen to the top of his class in Afrikaans, but you know what did happen? His confidence level shot up through the roof. I find him translating what he’s hearing on the radio on the way to school. He’s talking about what he’s learning in class and the ways he’s understanding the language. It’s a total turnaround from before.
The best part is that he’s learned to persevere through difficulty. When those rainbows and cookies are non-existent, he knows that God’s power is perfected in his weakness, even through something as simple as Afrikaans class.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3, 4
Has your child encountered obstacles at school? What did you do to help them overcome those obstacles?