Having concerns about our local school system and intimidated by the costs of tuition of private schools, we explored homeschooling. I read as many books as I could, researched our state standards, and requested a catalog from virtually every homeschool curriculum provider.
Providing them with the best education possible so that they could attend a reputable college was our top priority. So as I perused every scope and sequence, the state's standards became my measuring stick, and if the curriculum didn't line up, it went into the rejection pile.
I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with wanting our children to attend reputable colleges, and while we felt our intentions were noble, we now realize that we missed the whole point of home educating our children.
While at the Teach Them Diligently conference, these verses from Deuteronomy spoke to my heart:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9)
Once we got home, I re-read my copy of When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul. If you have the conviction to homeschool but are feeling weary, get one!
I'm not arguing that it's a bad thing for children to be smart. Rather, I am suggesting that the issue of education is always the heart. Changed hearts is the goal, the function, the very purpose of education. our goal is not multi-generational peace and affluence. Neither are we simply trying to raise clean-cut children. Homeschoolers are adept at doing that. And there certainly may be a parallel between being nice, and having the gentle and quiet spirit the Bible calls us to. But what we want is the changed heart. (pg. 29)
Educating our children goes beyond the 3 R's. My oldest daughter is an excellent student. I have no doubt that she would be on the A Honor Roll. She's naturally gifted at science, music, reading, spelling, etc. She even won first place in a local homeschooler's science fair! My oldest son struggles more, but strives to do his best. So I go back to the drawing board, worrying that he won't score high enough on the standardized test in the spring.
It's easy to allow test scores and standards to distract us enough that we lose focus.
My husband owns a company and frequently interacts with intelligent folks--people with high level degrees, initials after their names, and awards. And most of the time, he deals with people who are underhanded, deceitful, and manipulative. Many of them claim to be Christians and toss the term out there, when they learn that my husband is one. After further discussion, my husband usually learns that their parents were known as being strong Christians and even leaders within their church, but they themselves attend a service every now and then, when they feel like it.
Hearing this brought out another one of Sproul's points:
When I preach to the children, having read a portion of the Bible, I remind them that is is not enough that they should know what the Bible is teaching. They must teach their own children these same truths. In like manner, if I fail to teach my children to teach their children, I have failed to keep covenant.
I'm convinced that failure to understand this multigenerational call of the Christian family is at the root of our failure to manifest the kingdom of God, that this is why we seem always to take two steps forward and step back. We haven't taught enough levels of this. We must with sincerity and zeal teach our children to teach their children to teach their children to teach their children...to keep going until the King's return. (26)
What motivates us? The Fruit of the Spirit doesn't exist so that our children can become heirs of Dale Carnegie, be hugely popular, or become prom queen of class treasurer. Rather we teach our children these things so that they might, in obedience to God, live in peace with all men, as much as possible. (22)Being on this side of business has opened my eyes to many things. First off, degrees are easier to come by than character. Having potential employees with impressive resumes come across my husband's desk is nice, but finding a potential employee with strong character and ethics is nicer!
While I want my sons to be successful, I'd rather they are known for honesty and integrity rather than their ability to bring in six figures. I don't want them to have a strong reputation in the business world, while neglecting the needs of their family and deceiving fellow colleagues. I want to know that my sons are passing down God's precepts to their children--knowing that teaching them in the ways of the Lord doesn't end with us. My hope is that when folks hear how their parents were active members of their church, the testimony includes their own personal work and walk with The Lord.
And my prayer is that it doesn't end there! I pray that my grandchildren, great-grandchildren,and Lord Willing, my great-great grandchildren are a living testimony to the Lord Jesus. I don't want others to hear of stories of how their ancestors had a relationship with Jesus; I want them to have their own!
Regardless of how rigorous it is, they're likely not going to learn that from a math text. Even if the Grammar book has endorsements and high achievement awards, my children won't pick up a testimony from diagramming or worksheets of punctuation drills. (I'm not saying math and grammar aren't important).
If I want my children to walk in righteousness, my first priority must be to teach them to listen to the Spirit's call and to walk in obedience.
|When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling
By P and R Publishing
Who should teach your children? What should they be taught? What is the goal of education? Drawing on Charlotte Mason's and classical methods and encouraging parents as God's chosen teachers, Sproul offers a biblical approach to learning that defines instruction as discipleship; and its purpose as seeing your children bear fruit, grow in grace, and become more like Christ. 152 pages, softcover from P and R.