Should we be using the same methods of instruction in our homes that are used in institutional schools?
I always guard against burn-out. For me and for the children. I see institutional methods being used at home, and I see bored kids and mothers. I see myself trying to check things off a list and getting impatient and irritated and rushing through to get things done.
I believe learning should be more natural and flowing, a part of life. There is a place for textbooks and workbooks, but the main form of education should flow from our relationships with God, with each other and with what the Spirit leads us to learn more about. Drill and memorization have a place, but they are not what education is really about. Playing with cute manipulatives and learning games is a great way to learn, but they can be overdone if they’re forced and the children are only tolerating them because mom insists on them playing them.
We need discipline, and we have to learn to do things that are difficult and unpleasant just because they need to be done, but our whole educational experience should not consist of those types of things. There should be times of discovery and exploration. There should be lots of time for creativity and learning about what the children themselves are interested in.
I am concerned that former public and private school teachers may be bringing some institutional methods into their homeschools and sharing them with other homeschoolers who latch onto them and bring the same mindset of the classroom and the spirit of the world into their homes unintentionally. And I see a danger in overworking our kids and giving them so much to do that they get burned out or bored with the same activities day after day with no break to process on their own – no time to just think about the things they’ve been learning.
What is the spirit of homeschooling?
Is it about providing our children with an excellent academic education so they can compete in this world and be successful in the eyes of the world?
Is it about protecting our children from false teaching and passing our faith and values to them?
Is it about building a warm, loving, nurturing family?
The family is the building block of society.
What will we do if the foundations are destroyed?
I often heard Dr. Dobson say, “Values are caught, not taught.”
So building a strong family is an important reason for homeschooling.
There’s something that’s even more important, though.
I believe the spiritual element is the most important part of homeschooling. I believe that if we miss that, we’ve missed the main reason the Lord told us to homeschool in the first place.
And I believe that God has established a way for us to teach our children so that our values and our faith are transferred to them. And it has nothing to do with traditional academic subjects. Our children must see that we have a living, vital relationship with God ourselves. They must see that we truly believe the Bible is the Word of God and that we are living by it. We must talk to them about what the Lord is saying to us. We must pray with them and for them, and model for them a life built on prayer that not only talks to God but listens to Him and obeys Him. We should be sharing our spiritual experiences with them. We should be praying for them, in their hearing, to have a close relationship with their Father God and to have experiences with Him that will draw them closer to Him and cause them to have all that He wants them to have in their spiritual lives.
We should pray that God will reveal to our children the height and depth of His love for them so that they will never want to walk away from Him. Who wants to walk away from the Person who has the greatest love in the universe and who cares about every little detail of their lives? But they have to experience His love for themselves. And we need to facilitate that happening for them by talking about our experiences with the Presence and love of God and leading them to Him when they have problems and encounter hurtful situations, even when the person who has hurt them is their own mom or dad. We need to teach them that God is always there for them even when we can’t be.
We need to turn the education of our children over to God. They are His children. He knows their needs and their futures. He will give us ideas of how and what to teach them. He will direct us to the right books to read to them or have them read. He will lead us to fun and interesting ways to teach them information that they will need in the future so that the learning will really stick.
So I don’t believe that we should do “school at home”.
I don’t believe we should cram anything down our children’s throats, even instruction in the Bible or spiritual disciplines.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.” Isa. 28:10
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:6-9
I see this as a naturally, supernatural way of teaching our children. Letting the Spirit of God lead us in teaching them and saying the things He would have us say to them as He brings them to us throughout the day. It’s not all planned and organized, but they learn the things that really matter and they learn how to have a living, vital relationship with God. Jesus taught in parables, and He helps us to teach the same way when we’re listening to Him. He helps us to see things in the created world that relate to spiritual life and explain them so that our children develop a deep faith in God that is real and is their own.
He gives us revelation as we read the Bible that we can share with our children so that they see that the Bible is a living book that God speaks to us through, and they will want to hear Him speak to them in the same way.
He will also lead us in the correct way to teach the academic subjects, the way that is right for each child. If we ask Him, He will give us the answers we need. He promises to give wisdom to us when we ask for it (James 1:5).
Everything in life is about God. Everything that happens is intended to draw us closer to Him.
Let’s keep our focus on Him in the education of our children.
I’ve linked this post to the Big Family Friday link-up at Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling.