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Raising God-Directed Learners

One of the goals of Christian home schooling families is to raise our children to be God-Directed learners… that means not just self-motivated, but led by the Holy Spirit.

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At first, whether you are starting out with a young child, or if you are just bringing your children home after months or years of institutionalized education, they will NOT be Spirit-led learners, or even independent learners. If they have been in school, then they have learned to open their minds like little birds open their beaks, and wait for someone to cram some knowledge down into their brains, and before they have even digested that morsel of knowledge, open up for the next spoonful.  Even if they are home schooled the whole time, they are not able to consistently reason until between the ages of 8-10.  This is not bad; this is normal.

But how do we guide our children from the dependent learning stage to self-motivated learning, and then on to being God-Directed?   Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore have several suggestions for us as parents to help us lead our children from being Dependent Learners to become God-Directed Learners.

The First Stage–Dependent Learners:  When they are little (or fresh out of school), they want to know about many things, but don’t know how to go about getting the information.  They might flounder around, become frustrated.  This is when parental guidance is the most time-consuming.  You must start asking what the Moores call “guided questions”.

“Wow, did you hear that, Johnny?  I wonder why the ketchup bottle made that slurping sound when you stopped squeezing it…what do you think?”

“I don’t know how old a cardinal is when he gets his feathers…let’s go look it up in the field guide.”

By asking open-ended questions, and guiding the search for answers,
we teach them to ask the questions and how to use the resources available
to them on their own.

At first when you ask such questions, you may get “I don’t know…” for an answer.  This can be frustrating, but don’t let the child see your frustration.  Instead, say something such as, “I don’t know either…I wonder how we can find out?”  They might say, “I don’t know” again, but start making suggestions. “I wonder what type of experiment we could do to figure this out…”

The Second Stage–Independent Learners:  The next stage is Independent-Learning, and that is when a child starts asking questions and then trying to find the answers for themselves…it is the “Guess what I just found out, Mom!” stage.  They may still need your help to get to the answers ["Mom, can you help me find a web site about rabbits?” or  "Mom, can you help me look up the number of the pet store?  I need to ask a question about different types of rabbit food”], but they will know what they want to learn, rather than letting you decide for them.  And once the child is at this stage, you will be able to sit back and watch them learn, yet letting them know you are there to help them when they need it.

This is very rewarding, and many parents stop here, thinking their job is done, especially those without a relationship with God.  They don’t understand that there is one more step in this process.  The child needs to learn to seek God’s Will for his education and his future career.

The Third Stage—God-Directed Learning:  This step is when the child begins not only to seek out the things he wants to know, but he starts asking the Lord for guidance about where he should direct his interests and plans for his lifework. If we are modeling our walk with Christ in front of our child, he will more easily mature in his relationship with God, making this last step a natural outcome and desire.  He may begin to seek God’s will for decisions younger than the expected late high-school age.  We may see evidences of independent learning in certain areas as young as 9 or 10; becoming a God-Directed Learner can happen at 12 or 14 if our home is strong in seeking God’s will.  Home-schooled children mature emotionally much more quickly than those who don’t have this advantage.

Now, of course, each stage flows into the next stage, so there will be overlap for a while, sometimes for a long while, as the child hovers between two stages.  I have watched my 11 year old daughter grow from a dependent learner into an independent learner over the past year, while my son, at the age of 9.5, is just now starting to show the first signs of independent learning, but in many ways is still very dependent on my guidance.  There are still many times when I have to nudge him by asking those guided questions to get him thinking, but those times are becoming farther apart as he gains confidence in his own abilities to find answers to his questions.

Our job, once past the first stage, is more of a facilitator than a teacher.  And by the time they reach the third stage, we should just be basking in the glow of our retirement…seriously though, we should be at the point where they may come for us for advice and wise counsel, but the learning is done on their own, seeking after God’s Will for their lives.

For is this not our chief goal, to raise men and women after God’s own heart?

More information about the Moore Formula can be found at the Moore Foundation web site at

Susan McGlohn home schools her three children using the Moore Formula in Virginia.

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