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10 Schooling at Home Tips for More Attentive Students
What The Bible Says About Parents’ Role in Education
The Difference Between Listening and Hearing
How Memorizing Scripture Helps Students


The Difference Between Listening and Hearing

One of the biggest obstacles parents have to deal with when communicating with their children is the fundamental difference between listening and hearing. 

This is twice the obstacle when parents homeschool their children and are present and active in their education. 

We want to listen, not just hear. 

Children aren’t able to accurately express all their nuanced feelings. Most parents can’t even do that. It’s hard! 

So, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to make up for that and put in the extra effort. 

Listening is all about understanding what the child means when they say what they say. 

Hearing is simply hearing the words and taking them at face value. 

But when we’re able to listen, instead of just hearing, we can connect to our children like never before – becoming more engaged parents AND teachers. 

Here are five tips that will help you start listening to your children instead of simply hearing them. 

Don’t Start Mad 

Students know when adults are mad, even if the adult is hiding it. 

This can make a regular, civil conversation turn into a pressure-filled clash where the student has a hard time explaining, and the parent has a hard time listening. 

It’s OK to take some time to relax and breathe before having a meaningful conversation. And it has the added benefit of showing them that getting angry and mad is a normal thing and that we have the tools to handle it. 

It’s Not Parent vs. Student

It’s the parents’ job to explain (and reinforce with actions) that whenever there is a problem, it’s not the parent vs. the student – it’s both of them together vs. the problem. 

How you talk to your student will help prove this to them. They won’t be scared about punishment or getting yelled at; they’ll actually be grateful you’re on their side and actively seek out your support. 

Don’t Talk – Listen 

Every person in a power dynamic is guilty of this to an extent. Boss to employee. Teacher to student. Parent to child. 

Whenever the person in “power” does all the talking, it just makes the problem worse. This person needs to listen, and you can’t listen if you’re doing all the talking. 

Odds are, we have all experienced something like this. A fairly common experience is when we may have been yelled at in school with the teacher demanding we explain ourselves. We do so, only to be told not to make excuses, and that’s that. 

This lesson sticks inside of us for a long time. 

Luckily, we can use these experiences to ensure we’re not repeating the same cycle. 


Students who genuinely feel safe will be more likely to be more honest and not leave things out. Students don’t lie maliciously – they lie because they’re scared. 

Figure out what makes students feel safe – especially when talking about their problems. 

Maybe they want to be in their bedroom, cozy in their bed. Maybe they want to be outside. Maybe they want to talk to just one parent. Maybe both. 

It’s the parents’ job to figure out what safety means to their students and cultivate a place that represents that. 

Said vs. Meaning 

Sometimes the words we say are not the things we mean. 

A student that says they hate recess and the games at recess probably doesn’t mean that precisely. They have negative feelings and can’t put them into words, so they assign those feelings to things near the real problem. Adults do this, too. 

In the recess example above, what’s likely happening has nothing to do with recess.

Odds are, something negative happened during recess. And now they are taking that negative emotion and putting it on ‘recess’ as a whole so that they can avoid the situation altogether. 

A parent that just hears what’s being said, instead of what’s meant, will be dismissive of these negative feelings and probably just tell them that they have to go to recess, and that’s that. 

If the parent followed the breadcrumbs of what their student meant, they’d be able to figure out what negative thing happened and speak to that directly. Now, real progress can be made. 

Another significant benefit to actively listening to your student is that, in return, they are much more likely to listen to you. 

We learn from examples. When a parent says they listen but don’t, the student sees the disconnect, even if they can’t put words to it, and are likely to copy the behavior. 

“Do as I say, not as I do.” A common expression, sure. But it’s also problematic. 

Once you understand the difference between listening and hearing, your ability to communicate with your student will increase drastically. 

This doesn’t just help your relationship as student and teacher, but also as child and parent, and isn’t that something we all want?