It's not too late to become more equipped, even while you are
homeschooling your children. Homeschoolers are exposed to messages
that imply we must " have our act together" before we can
homeschool or begin to make a difference in our families.
We cannot perform a major clean-up of our own lives! This is God's job. If we simply seek him and obey His leading, He will do the work in us as we draw close to Him and continue to develop an obedient relationship
with Him. This is a parallel of what occurs when our children come home to be with us; an increase of mom and dad time will bring healing to their souls even if mom and dad are just beginning to get serious with God themselves.
We can begin homeschooling wherever we are in our process of growth and learn to assume ideals for our progress that we want to work toward as the Lord works in us.
So where does our self-education begin? It begins at the feet of Jesus, surrendering all to Him; recognizing our weakness and how much we need Him to give us His wisdom, grace, mercy and love.
How do we bring the theory of filling the canvas of our lives with thoughtful plans into practice? Loving our children more than we fear the system is a challenge even for the strong. One of the most practical answers that
I can give you is this. The more you become homeschooled yourself, even while you are homeschooling your children, the easier it will be to give your children a quality education without having to strongly adhere to the system's limiting, binding and burdensome methods of educating. Why is this true? Because you are currently giving to your children out of the sum of your experiences. Whatever is in your own understanding (values, approaches, principles, etc.), your own heart (spiritual and character conditions), your own abilities (skills, talents, etc.); this is what you give to your children.
Shortly after we began homeschooling, it did not take me long to realize that I had little if any significant valuable gifts to give to my children. I loved them and cared about what happened to them, but felt like it would be mere chance if anything turned out good for us. I added to that a strong commitment and conviction that would not allow me to waiver in our homeschool decision.
This brought me to the realization that if I did not increase my own education, I would out of necessity remain in bondage to an educational structure and mode of operation that was unfruitful for us. The traditional scope-and-sequence and curriculum was the only thing familiar to my own experience in education, thus the only way I knew to provide for my children.
It is difficult when one begins to recognize the lifelessness of the familiar form of education, but does not know what to do about it. Since we have to do something, we continue as before. However, we can move beyond
merely accepting this mode for the duration of our homeschool experience. We can choose to begin an adventure in growing for ourselves. We can proceed with the intention of learning all we can for the education of our own minds and growth of our own spirits so that by this same time next year we will have been in a process of developing a few simple and creative substitutes for portions of our children's educational disciplines.
We can equip ourselves with knowledge of the truth that will enable us to boldly move out ahead of our children – in scholarship, in godly character, and in our spiritual growth. We will be equipping ourselves
to lead our children as God gives us the vision for their education based upon our new experience.
This process of yielding the canvas of our hearts to God, to be teachable in every area of need, will bring forth the beautiful picture of our family's adventure in education, one that is uniquely ours, born out of our love for them.
Make Time for Study?
Moms mistakenly think they have no time for their own reading or study program. I suggest that we have more time to study for our own preparation than we have time to fix the mistakes we will eventually (and surely) make out of ignorance. We will suffer tremendously for lack of knowledge. The knowledge I am speaking of for these purposes is as follows:
- deeper values
- stronger character ideals for self and children
- relevant application of God's Word walked out in our lives
- deeper relationship with the Lord demonstrated in personal life
- understanding of God's providence
- a few principles that will help us to train our children properly in several areas of need; for example: principles of the Christian faith, principles of hearing God's leading, principles of relationships, of purpose, of individuality, etc.
This kind of spiritual and intellectual knowledge can be acquired through a simple submission to a reading program and an increase of spiritual disciplines with a heart humbly yielded to the Lord. The knowledge does not remain knowledge in the intellect, but is deepened through the experience of application, becoming a part of who you are, and literally contributing to major change in you.
The concepts of a lifestyle of learning approach will become workable in our lives to increasing degrees as we are willing to embrace a homeschooling experience for ourselves, not simply becoming a homeschooler but becoming homeschooled – advancing our own education.
While a lifestyle of learning sounds appealing and is definitely freeing, more enjoyable, and potentially more fruitful, there is a price to pay.
The bottom line is that if you do not feel confident, you will need to undergo some personal self-education even while you are trying to homeschool your children. This does not mean that you need to learn all about the subjects of science, history and math, etc., in order to provide an education for them.
Many subjects you will be learning right along with them in addition to allowing many of their own delight-directed interests to contribute to the learning process as well. However, you can get into a learning mode where you will develop confidence in your child training and directing of your children's learning activities. The more you teach yourself in the important areas that will feed your spirit, character and world-view, the more life you will have to impart to your children, thus developing their spirits, characters, and world-views.
Without a certain degree of self-education, you will be bound to continue sitting your children in front of a pre-digested curriculum that will dull their souls toward learning for the duration of their education.
The Nature of Traditional Curriculum
Many parents limit their children's education to basic academics along the lines of standard curriculum. This is only a small part of what true education consists of. The deception about curriculums lies in the assumption that
they contain the body of knowledge our children need to succeed as functioning members on society and the church. While standard curriculums contain a certain amount of information and facts, they fall short of many of the most important truths for the shaping of a biblical and godly world-view, and thus the character and wisdom of the child. Add to this the void of experience and skill which are co-equally valid and necessary elements of a quality education. Let me show you what I mean.
Let us for a moment consider in what we are attempting to educate our children. The definition of "learning" as found in Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary is this:
Learning, n 1. The knowledge of principles or facts received by instruction or study; acquired knowledge or ideas in any branch of science or literature. 2. Knowledge acquired by experience, experiment or
observation. 3. Skill in anything good or bad.
Based upon the definition, let us take a closer look at the three means by which we learn.
1. through instruction and study (of principles or facts)
2. through experience, experiment or observation
3. through developing skill in something
As I stated earlier, all three means of learning are coequally valid and necessary elements in the education of an individual and should have equal emphasis as well. However, the emphasis of traditional curriculum, even those
with a Christian label, is in the area of instruction in facts and even then the facts are usually unconnected and irrelevantly taught.
A few principles that govern some of the subject areas are taught, but life-governing principles (truth) are all but left out. Experience is reduced to a once or twice a year project or field trip and various extra-curricular activities that contribute little if anything to the child's true education. There is an attempt to develop skills in the area of reading, yet the number of books read by a student each year continues to plummet. Skills are also taught in the area of mathematics, but again they are irrelevantly presented so that much of it is never used and/or forgotten forever. Language is reduced to the diagramming of sentences and reading a couple of books each year. As a result, the average student coming out of high school does not know how to think, how to write or now to learn. He does not know the first thing about truth (wisdom) and he is weak in character and moral habits. Sitting him down to a pre-digested curriculum for six hour of nearly every day of his life produces death in his soul and a void of purpose for his life.
I believe that curriculum is an artificial model that was meant to replace the real-life models with whom the children walked on a daily basis. They were separated from their parent-models and put in an artificial environment with 20 to 30 undermining influences every day for most of their lives.
The parent-models grew to love their new self-life, free from their God-given responsibilities, and over a period of a few generations, became weaker in character and wisdom, accepting the lie that twelve years of academics equals a quality education. One could say we "lied" our way out of our responsibilities!
Why repeat this process in the home? let the schools have the curriculum, they need it; but let the child at home have his mother. Learn to use curriculum sparingly, wisely, and for only as long as you need it. You can become the open book your children need.
The Scripture asks: "For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" (Mark 8:36) What does it profit a child if he gains a world of unrelated, unapplied information, facts, and skills, but loses his soul to boredom and dullness of mind and heart? A traditional approach, where the parent feels she is providing all the child needs through a curriculum, will serve to kill the child's potential current and future purpose, because it will inhibit inherent giftings put there by God.
Boredom, a dread disease, can develop in a child by constraining him to someone else's plan for his life. In the case of homeschooling, the parent will constrain the child based upon either their ignorance or their understanding of the child's true needs. If in ignorance, then the child will profit nothing. His soul will be taken from him in exchange for twelve years of generic studies and a lifestyle that remains void of specific purpose. Why? Because a parent who does not truly know God's principles of creation and life will religiously adhere to a rigid form and method that are not from Him. The result will be little to no practical application of knowledge in "real time" that does not become knowledge of the heart – thus the child's inner change and growth will be stunted.
This is from the March 1998 Lifestyle of Learning newsletter entitled "It's Second Nature." I highly recommend you obtain not only this, but all of the past Lifestyle of Learning newsletters! Many of them have been or are
being re-written and formatted into new books. For more info on the Lifestyle of Learning message, retreats and ministry, and how to subscribe to the Wisdom's Way email list, write to the Howshall's at
Lifestyle of Learning
P.O. Box 207