If you have recently decided to begin home educating your children, you may not be aware of how homeschooling will change everyone in your family. If allowed to do so, God will use the tool of home education to make changes in your family.
When my husband and I began homeschooling our children, we considered ourselves good, Christian parents, and we thought of ours as a "close" family. But Proverbs 22:6 says "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." After homeschooling for about three months, we began to see that there was a lot of room for improvement concerning the training of our children! And we had some serious work to do to produce better relationships among our children.
Our oldest two children had been in public school and had learned some bad habits and some defensive mechanisms, and we wanted to address these issues. Also, the children hadn't learned to be consistently obedient to our requests, which meant that we weren't being consistent in our methods or expectations. So, we recognized that we had some serious needs and that the Lord was the only One who could teach us and direct us.
We had been reading about homeschooling for many years before we undertook it ourselves. After the first months, I not only read everything I could find about home education and discipline, but I spent much more time in praying for my children, my husband, and myself. I became more diligent in studying the Scriptures, and applying them to my own attitudes. My husband and I talked more frequently about daily events, and we became more consistent in praying together for wisdom and guidance.
Over the past eleven years, the Lord has been merciful and faithful in giving us mid-course corrections. He has pointed out when one child needed more attention, when another one needed time alone with Dad, or when one child needed to have a special outing with Mom.
The Lord's instructions or direction would come through various avenues. It might come through reading a book, reading an article in a Christian homeschool magazine, having a conversation with a respected Christian home educator, or as an impression during Bible reading or prayer time. Perhaps while reading a book or having a conversation, we would be aware of a thought such as "This would help (name of child) feel more loved." We might simply have an impression that something we were reading or hearing was tailor-made for one particular child. My husband and I accepted such thoughts and impressions as God-directed. We were surprised to discover that the things that we might consider "small" were important enough to the Lord that He would give us instructions or guidance concerning them.
There are three broad categories where we have made changes or mid-course corrections as a result of homeschooling: spiritual changes, practical changes, and attitude adjustments. Here are some of the changes and practical ideas that we've used over these eleven years.
As we travel the path of homeschooling, the Lord will open our eyes to areas where we have not always been obedient to Him - and He will set our feet on His narrow path of holiness. Sometimes, we don't realize that our attitudes and opinions have become contaminated by the world. The Lord has made major changes in us in this regard.
It's more important to be our children's example in loving, serving, and obeying the Lord than it is to teach them academics. In our daily experience, we have the awesome privilege of inviting the Lord's presence into everything we do and everything we accomplish.
One of the methods we've used is to pray frequently about important issues, and to solicit prayer requests from others. We have prayed with our children for the prayer requests of friends and relatives, and have seen the Lord answer these prayers. Afterward, we thanked the Lord for answered prayer. This is a precious gift we can give to our children.
My husband and I talked about our reasons for home educating our children, and we wrote down our major goals. Some worthwhile things you might want in your list may include spiritual development, teaching the value of prayer and Bible reading, character development, educational excellence, and teaching our children to work. My husband and I also had to assess our style of parenting and to be willing to change.
I came to understand that I had to be willing to make changes in myself first. I had to be consistent and timely in fulfilling my responsibilities as a home educator (ordering curriculum and supplies, doing lesson plans, grading schoolwork, etc.). The Lord impressed me to keep better control of my emotions, and to practice patience. I had to learn to be more consistent in disciplining my children, and in my expectations of them, so that they had firm guidelines. This produced a sense of security in our children.
We eventually realized that we needed to teach our children to set goals and to achieve them. This skill serves them well through all of life. Another practical idea was to teach our children how to resolve conflicts. At one of our annual homeschool conventions, we purchased a book called The Peacemaker by Ken Sande (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI). This is a biblical guide to resolving personal conflict. We highly recommend a scriptural approach like this.
One homeschool article I read twelve years ago recommended a thorough annual house cleaning during summer break to prepare for another new year of homeschool. I adopted this practice, and it taught us all to set goals and achieve them. We learned to work together to achieve our goals. And we learned to give our children the responsibility of having chores to complete every day. Prior to homeschooling, the only task our kids completed was making their beds every day.
We needed to prayerfully work with our children in adjusting the wrong attitudes they had acquired while attending public school. We felt that the best way to deal with their attitudes was to conduct daily Bible studies that addressed heart issues that needed changing. Ephesians 4:32 says "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." This scripture was one of the cornerstones of our first two years of home education.
Teaching our children requires us to discuss current events and ideas with them. This works best when we parents relate to our children as important, intelligent, spiritual individuals. We want to encourage and support our children. We want to acknowledge that they have spiritual insights and sensitivities that are, at times, deeper than our own. As we shower affection and praise upon them, we will win their hearts, and earn the privilege of becoming their counselors and mentors even after they are adults.
The Lord is Faithful
Homeschooling has been one of the instruments used by the Lord to make changes in our family. Through the Lord's faithful ministry to us, we have deepened our family relationships and drawn closer to the Lord. "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children." (Isaiah 54:13) Toddlers, youth, and adults - we are all His children and we continue to be taught of the Lord.