Help Students Understand the Why

Why Do I Have to Learn This
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It has dawned on me over the years that giving our kids the “why” we study what we do helps them to approach a subject, class, or curriculum with a completely different attitude.

Help Students Understand the Why

We were barely a year into homeschooling when we decided to give our children the components of a classical education heavily infused with a solid Christian worldview. Like so many dedicated and serious home educators, we did our due diligence, hanging out on message boards (it was 1997, after all), reading anything and everything we could that would give us the direction we were seeking.

When I say we were all in with a classical and Christian approach, I mean some serious Latin and Greek roots and language study, page after page of well-written literature, a deep-dive into a 4-year history rotation, and thorough time getting to know our way around the Bible and building our relationships with God.

It wasn’t until quite a few years later—when our oldest sons were high schoolers—that one of them said to me, “So, I’ve heard you talk about a classical Christian education, but I don’t know what that is.” 

Okay, wait, what?

Here I had dunked my whole head into the deep pool of Socratic dialogue and language-driven learning for at least a decade, purchasing curriculum and tailor-making my kids’ educational experiences, and suddenly at least one of them was telling me they had no idea what that meant.

kendra fletcher

When students do not understand the why, they cannot readily process the importance of the course of study.

Take the learning of Latin and Greek roots, for example. When I first exposed my 12-year-old to Word Up! The Vocab Show, he sort of smiled and snickered through the first video, but he couldn’t really make a correlation between the curriculum’s content and his actual real life. Once we discussed the “why” of learning Greek and Latin roots, he began to see the links to Latin and Greek words present in his other subjects, often bringing up a lesson he’d just covered in Word Up!

When our daughter studied Dave Ramsey’s Modernity, her time spent engrossed in history beyond the 1500’s felt personal and important because she understood the why. Long gone are the questions, “Why do we have to study all these dead people?” and “What difference does history make anyway?” Now as a college student she more than understands the why, but I appreciate the fact that we can give our kids a motive right now and not have to wait for hindsight.

Compass Classroom understands that students need to know the why. It’s one of the reasons our family has loved this company for so long. In fact, the preface to Matt Whitling’s Grammar of Poetry lays out the why in an easily readable manner for the student. In summary, the preface tells the learner why, how, and what in one concluding sentence: “We will find poems of truth, beauty, and goodness and emulate them, and maybe if we’re diligent, we might in time become tolerable writers, too.” 

Help Students Understand the Whys

As we fast approach a school year ahead of us where new beginnings could mean some hearty resistance (think: “Why do I have to study Algebra?”), understanding the importance of what we are trying to teach and they to learn can mean the difference between steady foot-dragging and an eager learner. Knowing the why doesn’t guarantee interest, but it sure can make the study of certain subjects feel a lot more relevant in a world that is offering a smorgasbord of other delights that capture our children’s imaginations.

Author, Kendra Fletcher

Kendra Fletcher is a mother of 8, speaker, author, and 22-year homeschool veteran. She is the author of Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace, and Leaving Legalism, and she regularly writes for Key Life Ministries. The Fletchers reside in California, where they play in the Pacific Ocean as often as possible. Find her here:


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