Heart-Centered At-Home Educational Approaches: Understanding Your Child’s Love Language

Gary Chapman’s 1992 book The 5 Love Languages has helped millions of people recognize the way they give and receive love and recognize the ways others give and receive love. Through this understanding we become better at communicating love and understanding the love others are trying to communicate.

Love is the core dynamic between parents and their young children. When parents understand how their children communicate and receive love they can respond in ways the child is most receptive to thus creating more security in the relationship.

When engaging in at-home learning, the parent-child relationship expands to include teacher-student dynamics and it becomes especially important to nurture trust and security in order to navigate the emotional challenges that naturally come with learning and growth.

What are Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages?

1. Words of Affirmation

2. Quality Time

3. Acts of Service

4. Receiving Gifts

5. Physical Touch

How to Determine Your Child’s Love Language:

If you ask your young child how they like to receive love they may not be able to verbalize it; nonetheless, through targeted conversations and careful observation you can easily determine the language your child uses to give/receive love.

Use the questions below to guide your thinking:

When it is a friend or relative’s birthday what is your child’s first response likely to be?

A. They say ‘I Love You’ or ‘Happy Birthday’ repeatedly. They talk about that person’s birthday to others.

B. They ask them what they want to do. They let them pick the game they want to play or movie they want to watch.

C. They do them a favor such as pick up their toys for them

D. They make them a card or a gift

E. They shower them with hugs and kisses

When a household member is sick your child will likely react by:

A. Saying, ‘I love you/are you okay?’ Use nurturing pet names with them such as ‘sweetie, honey’

B. Spending time with them watching a movie or reading them a book

C. Bringing them things like blankets, water, the remote control, ect.

D. Making them a get-well card or loaning them a special object

E. Snuggling with them or rubbing their forehead

When your child is becoming intrigued with a new friend are, they most likely to:

A. Give them lots of compliments, talk about that person frequently.

B. Talk about the activities they want to do with them such as sleepovers or outings

C. Offer them help in play/academic work (examples: cutting out a tricky shape for them during a craft project, pretending to be a father in a dramatic play game in which they pretend to mow the grass)

D. Offer them personal belonging or friendship tokens such as friendship bracelets

E. Hold their hand, give hugs, engage in rough physical play

When you child has a social conflict, they are most likely to:

A. Call the other person mean names

B. Say ‘leave me alone’ or refuse to engage

C. Dump toys/make a mess

D. Take things that belong to that person

E. Respond with physical aggression

When you ask your child, “How do parents show love to their child?” Their first response is:

A. They say ‘I love you.’

B. They play with them. They take them to the park/pool/ect.

C. They take care of them. They make them food. They go to work to make money for the family.

D. They buy them the things they need. They give them presents.

E. They give them hugs/kisses


Mostly A’s: Words of Affirmation

Your child gives and receives love through words. They like to be verbally praised and appreciated. They need verbal confirmation to feel secure in relationships.

Mostly B’s: Quality Time

Your child values time spent together. They like to have others around during play. They appreciate outings and special activities.

Mostly C’s: Acts of Service

Your child communicates love through service. They help with younger siblings and household chores. When feeling disconnected, they may start to ask for help with tasks they are capable of completing on their own.

Mostly D’s: Receiving Gifts

Physical tokens serve as confirmation of love. This love language is not about materialism.

Mostly E’s: Physical Touch

Your child feels connection through physical touch such as snuggles, hugs, and kisses.

Ideas for Incorporating Love Language Rituals into At-Home Learning Time:

Words of Affirmation

Morning Mirror Ritual: Stand with your child in front of the mirror and together repeat positive affirmations/mantras. Come up with mantras that highlight the unique qualities of your child.

Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNtPVgblzWY

Throughout Learning: Praise children for effort frequently. Say things such as: “You are giving that block tower your full concentration.” “It made me proud to see how you worked through your frustration.” “I appreciate how actively you listened to that read aloud.”

After a conflict: Remind your child verbally how much you love them and how important they are to you.

End of Day “Shout-Out” Ritual: End each learning day by giving your child a “shout-out” for one specific thing they did that day. After shout-out give a ritual cheer (such as Hip Hip Hooray, other great examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWPA-jYdWe8)

Quality Time

Morning Song: Each morning before you begin your learning sing a familiar song with your child. Give them your full attention and make eye contact with them as you sing. Example Song:

Good morning to you, good morning to you, good morning dear (child’s name), good morning to you.

Throughout Learning: Be present with your child during their play/learning activities. Examples: if they are working on a writing prompt, sit with them and write in your own journal. If they are engaging in sensory play with play dough get your hands messy and make your own play dough creation.

After a conflict: Take 5-10 minutes to play pretend together. Follow their lead as they take on a pretend role. Be fully present in your pretend roll (Hint: leave your phone in another room).

End of day Wind Down Walk: After the conclusion of your learning day, take a short walk with your child giving them your full attention. This could be as short as a walk to the mailbox or a longer walk around the block. If walking outside is not possible, spend 2-5 minutes with your child looking out the window and talking about what you see.

Acts of Service

Morning Light: Just before teaching, bring some light to your child! Light a candle, make a fire in the fireplace, or turn on a special lamp in your learning area.

Throughout Learning: Offer support through difficult tasks by giving them “hints.” Acknowledge them for working hard and associate that with an act of service (“You worked really hard sounding out all the words in this book. You go rest while I put it back on the shelf for you.”)

After a conflict: Help your child with tasks even if they are able to complete them themselves. For examples: help them put on shoes or their coat, read them a story even if they can read it themselves, or help them put their toys away even if they normally do this independently.

End of Day Thank You: A child whose love language is act of service not only likes to receives acts of service but shows love through acts of service. Acknowledge and appreciate these acts through a daily thank you so they know their love is felt and received (Example: Thank you for putting all the toys away without being asked, thank your for helping with the baby while I was working with your brother).

Receiving Gifts

Morning Message: Start your child’s day with a love note or drawing

Throughout learning: Gift your child a special colored pen they can use to complete difficult tasks. Give your child a sticker to praise their efforts when they are working hard. You can also lend them something of yours such as a piece of jewelry and let them wear it while they are working.

After a conflict: Surprise your child with a small token of nature love. Pick a flower from your garden and put it in their room. Find a rock for them that they can add to their collection.

End of Day Celebration Cards: See celebrations from words of affirmation. Give them a card (could be a simple as a star or heart cut-out from paper) with their name on it. Write down what you are celebrating them for. Designate a special place in your home to display the celebrations.

Physical Touch

Morning Snuggles: Make time for some snuggles on the couch or in your bed before you start your learning day.

Throughout Learning: Allow your child to sit on your lap when you read to them or during other instruction. Hold hands with your child while you teach them concepts orally. Before, during, and after difficult tasks (especially writing tasks) you can massage their hands with lotion or give them a back rub.

After a conflict: In the hours after a conflict provide frequent physical assurance-give a gentle arm squeeze as you walk by them in the kitchen, hold their hand as you walk up the stairs to get ready for bed, ect.

End of day “secret” hand shake/high-five ritual: Come up with a handshake ritual that you and your child do at the end of each day.

Know your own love language:

Knowing your own love language can help you understand what you need in loving relationships. Children naturally want to reciprocate love so by talking to them about your love language you can help give them suggestions for how they can show you love in return.

For more information on Love Languages visit: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/

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