Lessons from tutoring

There’s a little girl that I’ve been tutoring in elementary math for about a year and a half now. And yes, I did have to go back to review things like long division and multiplying decimals—just to make sure. It’s been a long time since 5th grade for me.

Hopefully she’s learned some things from me during the time I’ve been tutoring her, but I’ve also learned some things from her. For your reading pleasure, I thought I’d share.

1. Kids can be really hilarious sometimes. She just says really silly things without meaning to sometimes. For example, a couple months ago, we had a conversation that went like this:

Girl I tutor: Bones are really easy to break! I could break a toe in a gypsy.
Me: A gypsy? Do you know what that is?
Girl: Yeah, that’s the thing that comes out of a bottle and gives you wishes.

So close! She sometimes confuses words, and it’s just really cute. She’s always very confident about what she’s saying, though, even if she’s wrong. Like a week or so ago  I told her how old am I and asked her to tell me what year I was born. She very proudly answered: 1077. Yikes, I’m getting old, but not quite that old yet.

2. Everyone has different strengths. This girl is reeeeeeally good at creative, artistic things. She’s very kind and friendly and can make anyone feel loved and welcome. She’s not, however, the most naturally gifted at solving math word problems. And that’s okay. While she does have to get through math classes in school, she doesn’t have to grow up to be a mathematician.

This once again reminds me that God has given each of us different talents and a different purpose. Does that give us an excuse to slack off and not try to do our best in the areas where we’re not as naturally gifted? Not at all. But it should help steer us in the right direction for where God wants us to be.

3. God can use you in even the most ordinary situations. I’ve found that as I’m spending time tutoring this little girl, other questions and situations come up in conversation. We’ve talked about things ranging from boys and dating, how to deal with mean girls at school (11 year-olds can be so cruel sometimes!), and getting organized in school, to topics like what happens after people die, how we can know God exists, and the value that God gives to each person. While sometimes it would be very easy for me to just steer away from these topics because I’m just there to teach her math (and we do math—don’t worry), I want to use these opportunities to influence her in a godly, positive way.

Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

What are some ways you can do that?