I had the opportunity to speak to a group of new homeschooling moms a couple years ago. The article below grew out of what I shared. For me, it is good to read this (and other really basic articles) at least once a year to encourage my spirit and help me set the course for the year. I hope it encourages and challenges you as well. =)
If you are a homeschool mom or dad, I want to ask you a question:
Where are you going?
Do you have a specific, clear purpose and direction for your homeschool and ultimately for your children and family? What goals do you desire to see your children reach while they are under your care? If you haven't thought this out before, now is the time to do so.
I especially like how Debra Bell puts it in her book, THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO HOMESCHOOLING:
"It (vision) will give you confidence that you have made a wise (logical and prayerful) decision and not a foolish (whimsical and presumptuous) one. Then you will have the faith you need to press through the tough times (which are guaranteed to come)."
Not only will a clear purpose serve as an anchor to hold you steady in those tough times…it is also a compass to give you direction in the sea of choices available to homeschoolers today.
The Measuring Stick
The Bible says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Proverbs 29:18). The new American Standard says, "the people are unrestrained." Do you know what it is to be unrestrained? I do…
- When I don’t have a clear vision guiding my decision making process, my life become chaotic…
- I wander down paths with no destination…
- I become "double minded and unstable in all my ways" (James 1:8), rethinking decisions over and over again…becoming weary and discouraged.
Taking the time to make goals not only gives me direction, but becomes a measuring stick for all I do! Goals give me parameters I need for assessing all the options available to me, including:
- Which educational approach to use
- Which curriculum to buy
- What playgroups to join
- What support group to attend, etc.
Let me tell you little about my self and our arrival at this journey we call homeschooling. I always knew I would be a "stay-at-home mom," primarily because I knew the importance of laying a solid moral foundation during the "formative" years. We never considered public schools an option, but being full time Youth Pastors, we sort of assumed our kids would attend the "church school." I pretty much scoffed at homeschoolers—they were a strange bunch. The homeschoolers I had met grew their own gardens, baked their own bread and even ground their own wheat! They seemed too eccentric. I was sure that they were unbalanced somehow.
Full time youth work gave us the opportunity to see lots of "good" kids from "church families" who lacked a solid Biblical foundation. This was very disheartening…how did this happen? I’ll tell you: Parents have (unknowingly, in some cases) abdicated their rights to train up their children spiritually, morally and academically.
These jobs are left to the "professionals"…teachers, youth pastors, children's pastors, etc.
As our family grew and as my oldest neared "school age," I began to doubt that even a good Christian school would be able to impart to him the values our family held dear. This became glaringly obvious during a time Eric and I were leading a small group of post-high schoolers. These were all GOOD kids—many in church from the time they were born—but they all believed in evolution (in varying degrees). I was stunned! This is a foundational truth of our faith: WE ARE CREATED by a loving creator…in His very image. I think that was the turning point for me. I knew I would be joining the ranks of the unbalanced, hopelessly eccentric homeschool movement.
So, I began to think about WHY we should homeschool. What's the PURPOSE? Here are some of ours.
Godly Character/Biblical Worldview. Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes 12:12–13.
"My son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."
We feel very strongly that if we merely raise our children to be bright, articulate, creative, intelligent, etc., but do not pass on to them a revolutionary and infectious love for God that impacts every area of their lives, then we have failed in our calling as parents.
In other words, we are committed to raising our boys to be world-changers. We want our boys to be passionate about Jesus and to be able to share Christ with others in a way that is both articulate and culturally relevant. We have always thought that our first job as parents was really to be "pastors," and that parenting is really discipleship in its purest form. We want to teach them to know truth so that they can easily recognize counterfeit.
- Eph 6:4—Bring them up…nurture and admonition
- Duet. 6:6-9—These commandments…teach them diligently…
- Prov 22:6—Train up a child…
- Jer 10:2—Learn not the way of the heathen
Love Learning/Academic Excellence. There are many different learning modalities and personality styles. So it makes sense that children learn at different rates and speeds. Unfortunately, the current school system is unable to reach every child in the classroom. It simply cannot be done. The current system actually (though not purposely) stifles creativity and crushes innovative thinking. It forces children into a "one-size fits all" mentality.
Consider the clothing rack—one size does NOT fit all! If it won't work with clothes, which we both design and create, why should we expect it to work with children whose personalities and styles are as unique and mysterious as the God Who created them? Since we recognize that each of our boys is unique, we are committed to teaching each one as individuals, thus preserving their uniqueness and inquisitive natures. Schooling this way produces critical thinkers, kids who look for answers rather than waiting to be spoon-fed. This also serves as an esteem builder, as we strive not to compare one to another. Children who a re nurtured in this kind of environment love learning and often excel far past their public school peers in academic achievements.
Family Unity. As I type this, my boys are doing what they usually do: They are playing together, using their imagination and engaging in lots of "give and take." They truly are best friends. They love one another deeply and stick together. Even though they are still little, I want to nurture that love and friendship each day. We truly want our boys to grow up as best friends.
We also want them to be strongly parent-influenced, not peer-influenced. Children from strong, stable families are more self-confident and are typically stronger leaders. By making a time investment now, while they are little, I believe we will avoid a turbulent adolescence because of our commitment to family unity and shared values and vision.
Parenting is hard—but homeschooling is even harder! I think we do a disservice to our children when we attempt homeschooling without being strongly compelled, highly motivated, deeply convicted, and purposefully driven.
That's why we've taken the time (and continue to take the time as a matter of course) to talk about, write out and discuss our goals. These experiences help corral us and keep us going in tough times. They give us direction in a plethora of choices. They keep us grounded…
"And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it" (Habakkuk 2:2).
Father, Thank you for the blessings of our children. Thank you for the privilege we have in teaching and training them to love and serve you. Help us to realize the futility of such an enormous task without your help and without a vision to give us direction. I pray that tonight your sweet Holy Spirit would challenge anyone who has not yet thought about the clear purpose and direction for their responsibility and calling as parents. I pray that You would impart to them a sense of clarity and a new vision for their families. And may their children grow up to be men and women whose lives are dedicated to the Kingdom of God and the Good News upon which it is built!