I was recently invited to speak at the Annual Home Educators’ Day at the Capitol, and a few people asked for my message. Following are the three encouragements I passed along to homeschooling families…
Homeschooling Encouragement 1: The responsibility to teach and train children is on the parents’ shoulders.
Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach [the words of God] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
The “You” is parents, and this teaching is supposed to go on all the time, when you:
- Sit in your house…
- Walk by the way…
- Lie down…
- Rise up.
When I taught elementary school as soon as the bell rang I sent students home for the day, but as homeschooling parents educating is never done. God wants us teaching and discipling our children around the clock, every day, all day.
When I was in the military they told us, “You always have to have a hip pocket teaching available.” Our uniforms had large pockets on our hips, and the idea is we had to have a teaching we could pull out at any moment to share with the soldiers.
Raising our children is pretty much the same. We should look for teachable moments throughout the day to disciple them on forgiveness, generosity, service, joy, appreciating God’s creation, etc. As our children encounter day-to-day situations, we want to regularly say:
- What does the Bible say about this?
- What does God’s Word tell us about this situation?
- How should Scripture direct our thinking regarding this decision?
With our children growing up in Christian homes they learn so much Scripture, but how does this benefit our children if it isn’t affecting their day-to-day lives? If it isn’t affecting their relationships and decision-making?
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Is this addressing the public school system, the government, or even churches? It’s clearly speaking to parents.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
This verse is interesting because understandably with fathers working, mothers perform the majority of the teaching. So how do we obey this verse? While mothers might deal with much of the day-to-day academics, it seems much of the [spiritual] training and admonition rests on the father’s shoulders. Fathers can never sit back and say:
- Well, my wife has it under control.
- Their mother will handle the teaching.
- Whatever my kids need to learn, they can learn it from Mommy.
- I’m too busy working to worry about teaching my children.
Whether fathers have to get up earlier or clear the table as soon as dinner is over we need to make sure we gather our families around the Word of God.
Consider what God said about Abraham…
Genesis 18:19 [God said], “I have chosen him, that he may [direct] his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
This is exactly what God could say to every father: He has chosen [us] as fathers. He wants us to direct our children and our households that we may keep them in the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice.
Homeschooling Encouragement 2: The amount of time we have with our children is limited and valuable.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics the average number of hours in a public school day is 6.64, and this doesn’t even include the time spent walking, driving, or riding the bus to and from school. The average number of school days per year is 180, which adds up to a little under 1,200 hours per year. This means by the time public school students graduate high school they will have spent over 15,500 hours away from their parents.
We have five children with the sixth on the way. Our oldest is eight and we’re recognizing just how little time we actually have with them. As parents, we should be selfish with this time. We shouldn’t be willing to give up so much of it.
When we consider just how much time our children would be in school…
- It’s a lot of time for them to be taught and trained by someone else when God has put that responsibility on parents’ shoulders. Some number of the teachers might not be Christians, might not have the same values we want our children to have, might teach academics that conflict with our teaching, etc.1
- It’s a lot of time for them to be surrounded by hundreds of students that could have a strong negative influence. Some number of those students aren’t Christians, don’t have the same values, exhibit behaviors or hold beliefs we wouldn’t want in our children.
Homeschooling Encouragement 3: Move beyond teaching academics and morality.
When I taught elementary school, I found the teachers I worked with to be hardworking, and genuinely concerned about their students. They teach their students important academics, and they’re moral people who also teach an amount of morality. In classrooms across the nation students learn important subjects like math, reading, writing, science, etc. as well as important morals: do not lie, cheat, steal, be kind, etc.
So what homeschooling parents need to consider is if we don’t move beyond teaching our children academics and morality, we’re not moving beyond anything public schools teach. If we’re homeschooling we need to make sure – like Deuteronomy 6:7 and Ephesians 6:4 commands – we’re teaching the Word of God, teaching the Gospel, teaching a biblical worldview, etc.
If we taught our children the academics that could get them into the most prestigious schools in the nation but they weren’t committed to using that education for Christ, what good have we actually accomplished?
- Why do we teach our children to read? So they can read Scripture.
- Why do we teach our children to write? So they can write about the Lord.
- Why do we teach our children music? So they can worship the Lord and help others do the same.
- Why do we teach our children sciences? So they can better know the Creator of creation.
- Why do we teach our children art? So they can produce works that bring glory to God.
- Why do we teach our children history? So they can learn about our Christian Heritage and the sacrifice many were willing to make to freely worship God, and learn from the mistakes of those who rejected that same God.
Paul’s son in the faith, Timothy, grew up to be a wonderful, godly young man. He was so impressive, even at a young age when Paul met him he wanted to bring him along (Acts 16:3). What made Timothy so exceptional? Paul gives the answer…
2 Timothy 3:15 From childhood you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
From a young age Timothy knew the Scriptures, which did two things for him:
- First, they [made him] wise; Scripture is where true wisdom comes from.
- Second, they provided him with salvation; they taught him how to be saved through faith in Christ Jesus.
This is a great example of what we should desire for our children: that they know the Scriptures at a young age, that they’re wise for salvation, that they know to put their faith in Christ.
And where did Timothy receive this instruction? Did he receive it from his 4th grade teacher or a wonderful coach or the government, or even the church? He received it at home from his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois (2 Tim 1:5). And this is where our children should receive the same wisdom and discipleship.
What has encouraged you in your homeschooling? What would you pass along to other homeschooling families? Leave your answers in the comments section!
1 There’s definitely curriculum that conflicts with our Christian values, but this message was delivered at The Capitol and there needed to be a sensitivity toward public education.
Author: Scott LaPierre