Homeschooling is such a big topic and one that is so close to my heart, it is almost hard to write about it. It’s a topic on which everyone likely has an opinion and just as every family and every child is unique, every family’s education choice is unique. I can only share why we are choosing to homeschool our children, for reasons that are individual to us and our lifestyle. We are relatively new in this journey and just walking by the grace of God each day. With that lengthy disclaimer aside, let’s dig in . . .
I believe a mother is a child’s first teacher and that “homeschooling” begins at birth. In the first years of my children’s lives I hope to have taught them that they are loved and safe with mommy and daddy, that home is a sanctuary of reliable rhythms, that God is our creator, our shepherd, and Lord. As time goes on, before the usual school age of 5 or 6, I hope to have taught the value of obedience, the joy and satisfaction of working hard and helping around the house, the skills of building and creating things, the magic of good books and most importantly, the comfort and authority of God’s beautiful guiding word: our living water, our guiding lamp in the darkness.
Now that my oldest child is five and “kindergarten” age, our learning will not begin, but continue. Perhaps with a slightly new rhythm. I am my children’s most qualified teacher because I know every aspect of their individual needs, strengths, weaknesses, talents and desires. But more importantly, I was blessed by God to be their mother and am empowered daily, minute by minute, by the Holy Spirit to lead, train, teach and nurture them. If God is living in me and working through me to educate my little ones .. . well there is no teacher greater than the Lord of the Universe. I have the great responsibility to be in the word daily and to continually die to self so there is room for Him to work (gulp!)
My kids and I spend hours each day outside. I think this is incredibly valuable. Time spent in nature is time spent with Elohim, Creator God. The lessons in creation, science, the seasons, weather, animals, plants, water and rocks are endless. The fresh air and exercise are so important. My oldest is such an outdoor boy I usually have to drag him inside for lunch and dinner. It hurts my heart to think of him inside a classroom most of the day. The world is his classroom! Look and see what the Lord has done for him!
Two winters ago we had an eastern screech owl living in a tree in our side yard. Talk about endless lessons about Elohim, Creator God! The boys named our owl Humphrey and I will never forget “baking” a birthday cake for Humphrey and standing with my boys in the drizzling rain signing Happy Birthday to Humphrey and leaving the cake as a love offering on the ground.
This February the kids and I planted seeds in tiny garden cups. It was snowing outside the window but the promise of watermelon on a hot summer day was literally in our hands. We studied seeds and talked about the parable of the sower. We learned patience waiting for the first green shoots to appear in our good soil. We learned diligence in watering and caring for our crops every day. We eventually transplanted everything outside to our first garden and ate sun-ripened strawberries off the vine and we are waiting for our first pumpkins to come this fall (wild animals ate our watermelons- good lessons there too, as a wise friend recently said “life is hard, love bigger.”). The garden is a hodge podge of trial and love and we planted everything too close together but we are learning. We are learning first-hand about nutrition and what real food is and is not. Now, when my 2 year-old asks me if chips are healthy I can in turn ask him, “is it God food?” God made potatoes for us but He did not make potato chips. Or french fries (darn it).
In April we had wild bunnies in our backyard. In May we welcomed our 3 ducklings and, along with them, a host of child-friendly chores.
Ever-present and all-encompassing is our desire to teach our children a biblical world view and that God is in every moment and every piece of nature- not just in a sanctuary on Sunday mornings. We check the weather forecast most mornings and see what God is going to do with the day- is he sending rain to water the plants and trees? We put honey on our toast and talk about how cool it is that God created bees and how bees give us honey. We learn to be kind to our brother (over and over and over) because if we love someone we are patient and kind with him.
I have worked on scripture memory with my little ones since they were still nursing. I would gently speak scripture, like John 3:16 and The Lord is My Shepherd over my babies as they nursed. Now, at almost 3 years-old, my toddler boy will interrupt me singing a lullaby and say “No mommy, say Jesus instead.”
To us, family is sacred, God’s creation and blessing! Holy and perfect. It is a privilege to be our children’s primary influence during these critical young years. I won’t let the government at my precious children and I will, gracefully, leave that at that.
At such a young age it seems that children are up in the morning and hurrying off to school (I remember well driving to school in the dark). After a long day at school kids have after-school activities and then homework. I anticipate I would feel a great void of family time if we operated under that kind of schedule. And I don’t mean hot chocolate and Monopoly but time spent learning from mom and dad, modeling Godly behavior, time spent with siblings. This critical time of seeing agape lived out before their eyes. My oldest boy rarely calls me mommy. He most often calls me “sweetheart.” He learned this from his daddy.
I love knowing that my boys will grow up learning together. If they went off to school they would be in separate classrooms, maybe even separate schools. I pray this gives them a foundation and bond that will stay with them.
My children are still so young and I am inexperienced and I am learning along with them (every time I correct poor attitudes and selfishness, I know God is correcting me too!!!) Only God knows what the future holds. But for now, our days at home are more precious than gold. Many days are long and hard. There isn’t anything about raising Godly children that is easy. Kingdom work is hard. There is deep joy in it, yes, but ease? No way. It is worth it, I promise, it is more than worth it. Time invested in the lives, character and hearts of our children is time best spent.
For me, homeschool is just one ornament hanging on the Christmas tree we have chosen for our family. It isn’t a separate decision unto itself, but one part of a greater whole.