Logo Homeschool World ® Official Web Site of Practical Homeschooling Magazine Practical Homeschooling Magazine
Practical Homeschooling® :

Character and the 4 R's

By Lori Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #24, 1998.

A primer for the Principle Approach.

   Pin It

Lori Harris

In ignorance, Christians are aiding and abetting the rise of secularism in America. More than any other factor, it is the weakness of Christian character and scholarship that is responsible for this country's falling away from its founding Christian principles of education, government, and economics. Spiritual backsliding is a believer's trait, not a pagan's; for the pagan remains true to paganism. The dissolution of Christian character has resulted from generations of unbiblical education among Christian institutions of teaching and learning.

Christians are duped to believe that the "forces without" are mightier and inevitable; thus they isolate themselves (not biblical separation for ecclesiastical, moral, or social concerns), calling it separation, only to breed more cowards after their own kind. The battle is within; a battle against American Christianity's own ignorance of its ability to impact the nation and the world.

Impotent and unequipped to supplant or displace, Christians tacitly consent to creeping socialistic policies in their own institutions: homes, churches, and schools, advancing the kingdom of Satan.

Today we need to search our souls and examine the content and methods in our teaching, to consider their implications for home, church, school, and state. We need a generation of American Christians who know God and His Word, and by their own scholarship know how to implement their knowledge. It is the duty of Christian educators to lead in advance of their students, not only to stem the tide of anti-Christian socialism, but to seek an effective alternative in schooling parents, pastors, businessmen, and statesmen.

Purpose of Principle

The Principle Approach, through the years, has been mislabeled "just an American thing." That is not so. Long before the principles were labeled with American terms, they were biblical. Principles only convey to us in a human manner the nature of God but in and of themselves they are not God! Any time we rely solely upon principles without an intimate relationship with God, we miss out on His best. Many people are drawn to the Principle Approach because they see the law in operation, but without the Holy Spirit to guide, legalism can set in. That is the last thing that should happen. The Principle Approach is the American Christian method of inculcating God's word into the heart of the individual. It restores the historic method of teaching and learning used by the Pilgrims and the Puritans until about the 1830's.

A Christian method of biblical reasoning teaches us how God has used biblical principles of self and civil government to free men and nations. Christians are most responsible for sharing America's testimony of Gospel liberty with law. We may be the best Christian parents ever to teach our children Bible lessons, build better relationships, and cultivate excellent readers and writers "for the Lord," but we must also teach them the history of God's hand in developing a nation where the church and the individual have experienced the greatest liberty to achieve God's best. Otherwise we have failed.

We must personally be aware of the biblical principles of law and government which set us apart from other nations, or we will no longer be "set apart." The Principle Approach emphasizes certain areas in the development of curriculum. We look at history through a providential view and see where God was at work. We try to first identify the purpose of each subject biblically, educationally, governmentally, and historically. While searching out the historic aspects, we place all time links on the Chain of Christianity. You are on the Chain of Christianity, and your children are the next link in it! What an exciting thought that God has ordained this time for your family.

Fundamental Principles

What kind of principles are we looking for? The following chart provides a visual illustration. If you are familiar with the American Christian terms used by the Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE), these are listed first with the biblical name following. I find that understanding the biblical name makes the American application of the principle more relevant. Please also notice that I have included the opposite of this biblical principle as identified by Paul Jehle (Heritage Institute Ministries). I tend to teach God's Sovereignty as one of the first principles but no matter how you learn or teach them, these seven are only beginning principles. (See Paul Goedecke's Radical Christianity for more information.) How many of these principles can you regularly identify in your school subjects?

Principle Approach Principle Biblical Principle Opposing Principle
God's Principle of Individuality Christian Individuality Collectivism
The Christian Principle of Self-Government Christian Self-Government Anarchy (External Force)
America's Heritage of Christian Character Christian Character Degradation
Conscience is the Most Sacred of All Property Biblical Stewardship Communism
Our Christian Form of Government God's Sovereignty Autocracy
How the Seed of Local Self-Government is Planted Sowing & Reaping Centralization
The Christian Principle of American Political Union Covenant Social Engineering


While constructing curriculum, care should be taken in searching for the Christian character or the lack of it in the subject you have chosen. History and literature should work hand-in-hand to show how God has advanced the subject you are choosing to teach.

As the teacher, try to have the subject "rooted and grounded" in biblical truth and back it up with examples of God's hand in history. The student's love for God, for His Word and for learning will be strengthened by the love for the subject, as God revealed it and developed it in you. Teaching something you know nothing of is hard, especially if you don't want to learn it yourself. Your students always sense this and can become weak in the areas in which you are weak.

Great literature will enhance the study of history. As we studied European history that year, we studied Heidi. As we sat down with maps and notepads and sought out descriptive words from the book to reveal the character of each individual within the book, the alms uncle took on new meaning. Even in his personal hurts and problems, he showed the Father heart of God through his character's love for Heidi.

The Principle Approach is also unique in its development of notebooks. These written testimonies of students' progress show the greatest value when compared with students who have only learned from the fill-in-the-blank mentality. Most Principle Approach students have a written record of their learning in various subjects that will consist of vocabulary development, biblical passages and 4-R-ing.

The Four R's

"4-R-ing" is a term used in the Principle Approach to show the individual enterprise that must be undertaken to accomplish the notebook. All four, researching, reasoning, relating, and recording can all be traced biblically, educationally, governmentally, and historically. The Bible becomes the textbook as teacher and student learn to research the Word and see God's hand in the "Big Picture." Biblical principles are identified and recorded as students learn to write reasoned essays and apply biblical principles to areas of life, social issues and current events.

Our children are worth the effort it takes to learn something new ourselves. I hope this short introduction will inspire you to excellence as you apply these fundamental biblical principles to all areas of schooling and life.

Was this article helpful to you?
Subscribe to Practical Homeschooling today, and you'll get this quality of information and encouragement five times per year, delivered to your door. To start, click on the link below that describes you:

USA Individual
USA Librarian (purchasing for a library)
Outside USA Individual
Outside USA Library

University of Nebraska High School University of Nebraska High School
Free Email Newsletter!
Sign up to receive our free email newsletter, and up to three special offers from homeschool providers every week.

Articles by Lori Harris

An Introduction to Principle Approach Science

Cannibals Want Missionaries!

The Head of the House

Where Does the Time Go?

Art & Music on the Chain of Christianity

Stand Up In Your Community

Purity and Innocence

The Outside World of an Inside Family

Character and the 4 R's

Brave Pilgrims

Research Tips Using the Principle Approach

Homeschooling on a Budget

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

Controlling Apples

Popular Articles

The Equal Sign - Symbol, Name, Meaning

Columbus and the Flat Earth...

I Was an Accelerated Child

Character Matters for Kids

Combining Work and Homeschool

Saxon Math: Facts vs. Rumors

The Gift of a Mentor

Teach Your Children to Work

The Benefits of Cursive Writing

Phonics the Montessori Way

Laptop Homeschool

A Reason for Reading

What Does My Preschooler Need to Know?

Joyce Swann's Homeschool Tips

Getting Started in Homeschooling: The First Ten Steps

The Charlotte Mason Approach to Poetry

How to "Bee" a Spelling Success

Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

Discover Your Child's Learning Style

A Homeschooler Wins the Heisman

Teaching Blends

Shakespeare Camp

Give Yourself a "CLEP Scholarship"

Advanced Math: Trig, PreCalc, and more!

AP Courses At Home

Myth of the Teenager

Art Appreciation the Charlotte Mason Way

How to Win the Geography Bee

University Model Schools

The Charlotte Mason Method

Start a Nature Notebook

Interview with John Taylor Gatto

The Benefits of Debate

Critical Thinking and Logic

What We Can Learn from the Homeschooled 2002 National Geography Bee Winners

Top Jobs for the College Graduate

Getting Organized Part 3

Don't Give Up on Your Late Bloomers

Why the Internet will Never Replace Books

Getting Organized Part 1 - Tips & Tricks

Narration Beats Tests

Can Homeschoolers Participate In Public School Programs?

Montessori Math

Classical Education

Whole-Language Boondoggle

Montessori Language Arts at Home, Part 1

The History of Public Education

Top Tips for Teaching Toddlers

Who Needs the Prom?

Bears in the House

Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
Copyright ©1993-2021 Home Life, Inc.