Teaching My Children

May 7, 2007

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I have been pondering much about home education lately, mostly because I have spent much of the last 2-3 months researching and planning and buying curriculum for the upcoming year and also attending the local homeschool conference and book fair.  I have taken in a great deal of wonderful information and encouragement and I have been planning on writing a post about these discoveries that the Lord has brought across my path.  This weekend I attended a women’s conference at my church where we were reminded that “it’s all about God and His glory and it’s NOT about us!”  With that in mind, I came home from the conference and sat down to catch up on email and blogs and I came across a couple of blog posts regarding the age -old debate about homeschooling, the good and the bad.  Arguments on both sides were laced with the usual Scriptures and justifications.  I find it very sad that this is even a debate.  It should be a no brainer that we should desire and pursue a  godly and Biblical education for our children if we are desiring to bring Him glory in our lives and to teach our children to do the same.  It is not my desire to preach or be a Nazi-homeschooler who can do nothing but attack non-homeschoolers but I do believe great consideration should be given to the great weight of responsibility it is to be parents and our educational choice should never be taken lightly. 

First of all, EVERY parent and EVERY child are “homeschoolers”.  My daughter just turned 2 last week.  Let me tell you, she has learned ALOT in the last 24 months and she hasn’t set one foot inside of a public school!  Before you laugh that off, think!  Haven’t you taught your children many, many things since they came home from the hospital as a newborn?  Even if your kids are in school of some kind, I’ll bet you are still teaching them something at home, right?  You answer their questions on the weekends, don’t you?  You read to them, you show them how to fold their clothes, make their bed, write their name.  And even public school advocates who are Christians agree that it is their job to teach their children about God and His Word and His character.  They usually ackowledge that that is not the duty of the school.  What I don’t understand is why they think God puts academics in a different category.  God is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the Creator of ALL things and everything exists for His glory.  There is no neutral education-it is either God-focused and God-honoring or it is against Him.  My children would be missing so much in a public school classroom where they don’t get to hear about God’s almighty hand in the events of history or His wonderful design and purpose for every plant and animal He has made.  For me, this “debate” is about so much more than an educational, academic choice, it is a lifestyle.

When I was at the recent homeschool conference I went to a seminar about character building.  I was reminded and convicted again about the importance of specifically including this in what we give our time to each day, weekday or weekend.  When Alley was 4 yrs old and we were in Germany, I did about 30 minutes of “school” with her each day to prepare her for a more involved routine the next year.  I found a list of character qualities listed out and defined on the internet and I picked one per month and printed it up and posted it on the wall so we could see it, review it and try to apply it together.  I did a few like this and then we travelled back to the States and life got crazy for awhile and the focus on character fell by the wayside.  God was faithful and I think He continued to teach my children things about character just by observing life but at this seminar I was convicted about making it a more prominent part of our focus again.  The Scripture that was used was 2 Peter 3:5, where we are taught to supplement our faith (a gift from God) with virtue (or character) and to supplement our virtue with knowledge and our knowledge with self-control and it goes on.  As I said before, all knowledge is God’s knowledge and this verse seems to be clear that our character should proceed our knowledge.  It wouldn’t do anyone any good if we had children who were all top-scholars but they were dishonest, selfish, greedy, etc.  Now, you may object that you can add character training to your child’s life regardless of where they learn their academic studies and it’s true that you can try but you cannot deny the fact that they are spending many hours per day out of your sight where you are unable to see what character they are displaying and what areas need work.  One of the reasons I love homeschooling is that if I see a heart attitude in my children that needs attention, I can stop and deal with it right then and THEN move on to math and science.  This also teaches them what is most important, their heart towards God.  Yes, I want them to learn much about God’s wonderful world but I want them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and to know and love His Word MORE than I want them to be able to do calculus.  If I tell my children that reading is better and more important than watching TV but I get up every morning and turn the TV on and leave it on all day and they only see me reading a magazine while I wait at the doctor’s office, will they believe that reading is more important to me?  If our whole lives are arranged to accomodate the schedule and practices of a public school where they go and only hear God’s name said in vain, will they believe that acquiring godly character is more important than the grade on their math test or how popular they are among the other kids?  The same passage in 2 Peter 1, beginning with verse 3, tells us that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.”  To me, this sounds like God has already made sure my kids have what they need for life and godliness…HIM!  The question is…do I believe it??  This doesn’t mean I sit back and ignore academics but it does mean that I must keep them in proper perspective.  This verse in 2 Peter is one of my husband’s favorite verses and I think, as I have recently been pondering it, that this entire passage is a wonderful passage in support of teaching your own children.  Of course, if you don’t like the idea of “homeschooling”, I am sure it won’t take long to come up with a reason why it doesn’t apply but that’s between you and God.  I know that the best way I can teach my kids about God is by living it out in everything we do.  In our school day, we always do Bible first and then move on to other subjects but sometimes it seems like we are doing Bible all day because God’s name is mentioned constantly as we learn about every subject through the lens of His ways.

There is much I could say to defend Deut 6 or I could talk about why we shouldn’t expect our little 5 year olds to be equipped to be salt and light when it’s still really hard for us as adults or I could try the danger and drugs tactic but really it comes down to whether or not we want to teach our kids (and ourselves) to love God first or to fit Him in where we can.  We are all learning and growing together each day.  Our kids learn by watching us deal with real life and watching God sanctify us.  And really, there is nothing greater than watching the lights come on when your child realizes he is reading or when they want to do a spelling bee just because its fun or when they beg for another history story!  Think back to when that little newborn came home to your house.  It seems like they should still not even be able to sit up, right?  Well, before we know it, they will be driving and then in college and then on their own and we won’t be able to go back and do it again.  We only get one chance to instill these things into the deepest part of who they are.

One last verse to ponder: Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.”  This jumped out at me the other day and I realized that it is not wrong to want my kids to have me and my husband as their examples.  This doesn’t mean we are perfect…far from it, but it’s much better they learn about life and God from us than from the nine year old they sit next to on the school bus.  And we should never fool ourselves into thinking we still have their heart after so much time each day is invested in a world where we and God have no part.

P.S. I wrote the above and saved it for my husband to read before I posted it and then I came across yet another blog responding to the much-mentioned post by KimC and I had to add this:  the debate about Christians and their educational choices could go on for ever, each side participating in division matching their desire to be “right” and get their point heard.  The purpose of my post here is to share my viewpoint, as gently as I can, but I want to make one thing clear.  I know what I believe the Bible says regarding parents and children and I know what obedience to that looks like in my life and NOTHING is going to convince me otherwise.     When you are really sure of something, the opinions of others fade away and don’t matter at all.  I know there are people around me who think I’m crazy for homeschooling but I really don’t care what they think.  All I care about is God’s opinion. I find that I am swayed by the opinions of others when I doubt what I am thinking or doing but when I am truly convicted about something, I stand firm, in His strength.

In closing, we are blessed to be part of a church that is committed enough to Christian education that they started a Christian school several years ago, at great sacrifice, to give their families a place to send their kids where Christ was pre-eminent.  At this time, teaching our children ourselves is still best for us for many reasons but I take great comfort in knowing that if something ever happened to me, there are Christ-honoring schools out there where my husband could send our kids if he was not able to work and teach them , where they would be surrounded in their formative years by godly people and taught the Word of God.  I think the real issue, and the real dividing line in this debate, is not between homeschoolers and all others but between those who value a Christian education through homeschooling OR Christian school and those who think a Christian education is optional. 

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2 Responses to “Teaching My Children”

  1. Mom said

    Extremely well said! Imagine how it makes your own mother, who taught you at home, feel to read this blog! There are no words! Wow! Love, Mom

  2. Jana said

    Good post! I agree with you and feel the weight already of the responsibility to teach Mara Kate how to love and serve God above all else—and she can’t even talk yet! 🙂

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