To begin, let me make it clear that I have never homeschooled children of my own. I’ve never even had children of my own. Instead, I come from the perspective of one who was homeschooled by some of the greatest, godliest parents known to mankind. That said, I often feel as though I don’t have much authority on the subject of homeschooling. After all, I’m the recipient not the pioneer.
Yet whenever I attend homeschooling conferences with my family, I inevitably have parents asking me for advice concerning their kids, curriculum, or teaching methods. Or they present me with questions regarding my own experience growing up in a homeschool family.
I have to be honest. Every time a parent asks me a question, I freeze, stammer out a couple of repetitive words as I mentally ask God for something of substance to say, and then finally begin to find an answer that is hopefully of some use to this person.
But in spite of my momentary discomfort, I can’t help but admire parents when they do this. It tells me homeschooling parents like you are looking to glean wisdom not only from those in your own position as mom or dad, but also from those in your children’s position.
This is awesome because it shows that you aren’t just looking for advice. You’re looking for results. You don’t just want a homeschooling guru or self-help book to tell you what to do. You want to see good fruit for yourselves so you can apply it to your own life. You ask those who were homeschooled, “What worked for you? What didn’t? What made the biggest impact on you?”
After all, “you will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, NASB). What better way to discern a healthy homeschool pattern than by observing and discerning the difference between good fruit and bad fruit? So I commend you.
And since there seems to be a common thread among the questions parents ask me, let me share with you the top three things that have impacted me the most in my homeschool experience.
1. My parents taught me that Christ was the ultimate goal, not academic achievements.
Everything my parents did to teach us revolved around Jesus. From literature to history to science to even math—it all pointed to the Author, the Creator, the Concealer and Revealer of mysteries.
My parents based their homeschooling on a certain biblical principle: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33, NASB). My mom and dad knew that if they made Jesus the center of every decision they made—including their homeschool decisions—the academic goals would fall into place. Thankfully, they transmitted this principle to my siblings and me in the process. When I got saved, I made Jesus my goal, and my greatest desire was to obey and please Him. What happened? My work ethic skyrocketed. The laziness and frustration I exhibited in my school work began to melt away, replaced by an aptitude for learning and growing.
Because Jesus became my highest joy, my school took on new meaning for me, and as a result, I became a good student. So if you’re looking to make your kids great students and learners, I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. But I will tell you that can’t be your ultimate goal. Jesus has to be. If He’s not, nothing else makes sense—not homeschooling or anything else.
2. My parents discipled me.
In a way, this one is much like my previous point, but it truly is distinct when you think about it. They didn’t just tell me that Jesus was the center of life, they showed me. They took my by the hand and led me through life, day in and day out, teaching me what it meant to follow Jesus. They discipled me by spending time with me, by taking me with them to work out and to run errands. They did it by disciplining me when I needed it and not letting me get away with things. They did it by loving me unconditionally, listening to me when I needed to talk with them, helping me walk through repentance and restoration, giving me advice, and, above all, teaching me the Word.
One of the things I cherish most is having deep talks with my parents about God’s Word. “Dad, why did God make the Israelites perform sacrifices?” “Mom, why does the Bible say wives should submit to their husbands?” “Dad, what are Zionism and replacement theology, and what’s your take on them?”
Granted, not all of these are the discussions you need to have with your child every day. (Some of these topics may have been the result of my dad being a pastor, but definitely not all of them, mind you!)
The point is: Are you studying God’s Word? Can your child ask you questions about the Bible and come away with a better answer than “Go ask your mom (or dad)”? Better yet, can they read the Bible and think, “Oh, so that’s why Mommy and Daddy do that”?
Take time to be a student of the Bible and teach it to your children. Live out the Word of God every day and teach your children to do it with you. Let them experience life as a disciple of Christ with you.
3. My parents sought to equip me to do anything God may call me to do.
If you think that because my parents emphasized Christ so much that they forgot about academics, you’re wrong. Oh so very, very wrong. Any person who has taken a homeschool class with my mother or bought one of her books can testify to her passion for academic excellence and constant learning.
Without sacrificing depth, my parents gave us a broad understanding of many topics. They gave us diverse experiences to try and see if we were interested in them. Please note that our not being interested in a particular class or an “extracurricular” (if such a word even exists in homeschooling) activity did not mean we were exempt from it. It simply meant that it would not be our future career objective.
This gave us the opportunity to discover passions and talents we didn’t know we had, as well as discover the beautiful art of “building character” as we did things we didn’t necessarily enjoy.
Now it’s your turn to share! What other things do you think are crucial in a Christian family’s homeschool journey?
Jenny Rose Curtis is a homeschool and Stetson University graduate, copy editor for Charisma magazines, and editor for Finish Well Blog. Discover more about her passion to serve and worship Jesus on her new blog, The Set-Apart Worshiper, or connect with her on Facebook.