Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Training Up Your Child

When my four kids were small, I felt God leading me to homeschool them.  However, I resisted this prompting because all I could envision was the five of us huddled around a table, painstakingly going through each of our curriculum products one by one.  45 minutes for grammar, 45 minutes for science, ring a bell, have a snack, 45 minutes of math, 45 minutes to write a book report.  The very thought made me shudder and want to cry.  I was in no way cut out for that.

So off to school went my firstborn.  And then my second born.  By the time my thirdborn made it as far as preschool, I was feeling like I just couldn't take it anymore.  The children were becoming more and more attached to their peers.  Also, they were bringing home pages and pages of what I considered mindless busywork, but I had to make them do it because their teacher said so.  My God-given role as parent was being slowly diminished by these other authorities in their lives.

I think the final straw for me was the day my firstborn brought home SIXTEEN workbook pages to do, because he haden't gotten them done in school (he was in the third grade).  He spent about 30 minutes working on them, and then announced that he was finished.  I knew better, and a quick search revealed a majority of undone workbook pages, hidden under the rug.

About this time, a friend handed me some tapes of a homeschooling speaker.  The woman on the tapes spoke right to my heart!!  She advocated lots of reading out loud, very little curriculum, no busy work, and lots of life experience.  My heart sang with joy - THIS I could do!  (Actually, my heart sang with Joy.  Her name was Carole Joy Seid).   We began our homeschooling journey and have never looked back.  I never imagined that I would actually LOVE homeschooling - what a blessing!

I have to say, though, that a large percentage of homeschoolers that I have met through the years really have re-created "school" at home.  Some families do very well with the structure of this method.  But I see many others getting burnt out, and often even sending their children back to school.  Why does this happen?

There is an expectation in our society that to be successful, you have to study certain subjects, to fulfill requirements needed for college, to get a degree that society says you need in order to be a success in life.  It seems to me like there is a big, giant scholastic game out there; you just need to learn the rules, play by them, and you will become an accepted member of society.

Who makes these rules?  What does God have to say about it in the scriptures?  "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  This verse actually contains in it (among other things) the idea of finding out your child's gifts and aptitudes, and directing his (or her) path in that way.  In other words, to become the very person that God wants him/her to be. 

This past week, I read about one homeschooling mom who noted that her daughter was good at writing, so she felt no need to have her work on it because she already "got it."  So she spent much more time on the subjects that her daughter struggled with.  Really?  All I could say was "Boy, I'm glad I am not that daughter."  If she is gifted at writing, and loves to write, why not develop that talent to its fullest, so she can serve the Lord with it to the best of her ability?  Is it really important that our child know what a predicate nominative is?  Or can configure polynomials by the age of 10?

Proverbs reiterates several times that the persons responsible for teaching children are the parents.  The Hebrew home was centered around the family.  Proverbs also has much to say about the beauty of obtaining wisdom.  But what is wisdom?  Read the first nine chapters of Proverbs, and see if you find anything at all about chemistry, algebra, spelling, grammar, biology, etc. etc.  You won't.  But you will note several times that "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."   

Romans 12 tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed; yet we often work so hard to conform to the world's system.  The chapter also goes on to say that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (pride), and furthermore that different people fulfill many diverse functions in the kingdom. 

Here is our challenge:  helping our children to find their place within the body, by encouraging them and allowing them to discover who God made them to be.  .


  1. Josiah was homeschooled k-8th grade. I LOVE that about him. His knowledge of the Bible is insane! (Mary, his mom, added a lot of Bible classes to the cirriculum.)

  2. Wow, thank you so much. I am blessed. Greetings from Papua New Guinea just north of Australia.