Children throughout the centuries before the mid-1800's received an individualized education (either at home or from tutors) that was full of Biblical values, morals and character by the methods of:
1) Copying (copy what you see),
2) Dictation (write what you hear),
3) Memorization (remember what you read),
4) Recitation and narration (say what you know), and
5) Composition (write about what you know).
methods are so simple that any parent can do them with their children,
right? All we need are a Bible and some great books -- McGuffey's
Readers, Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary, character-building biographies
of heroes throughout history, intriguing books to spark an interest in
all things scientific, some arithmetic books, etc. After all, life is
so full just doing the labor that God has given us to do that we can't
spend all day sitting at desks doing bookwork. Right?
Then came Horace Mann and the Common School Movement, Jean Piaget's theories of cognitive development, John Dewey's Humanist Manifesto, and B.F. Skinner's
Humanist Manifesto II and behavioral psychology. They all sounded so
educated! So intelligent! Surely they knew more than we simpleminded
parents ever could. We need to put our children into these schools so
that these highly educated people can teach them! They should all be taught the same thing at the same time. And it would be easier
to do that if they were divided into grades with other children their
same age. There were some who questioned it, even fought tooth and nail
against these changes, in the beginning.
But now? We
can't remember when everyone did not go to school. This is our new
normal. Functional literacy is lower than ever. Children do not know
their siblings. Fathers are not respected. Mothers have too much time
on their hands, and have been told that they are not necessary in the
home, so they are seeking fulfillment with jobs. It is left up to
churches to teach all things spiritual, because there is not time when
the children are gone at school all week long.
What has happened?
(even those of us who homeschool) believe that our children aren't
getting a full education unless they can learn (and spit back out on a
test) every fact that the textbook publishers throw at them. This
schooling philosophy, and the idea that textbooks and boxed curricula
are the only way to make sure that our children get a "complete"
education, without the dreaded "gaps," takes away so much of our freedom
as homeschool parents! We rely on "experts" to teach our children
because we believe that we are inadequate.
beginning to come around to the idea that teaching our children is like
cooking. If I can read, I can do it... or at least learn how to do it
effectively with practice and patience. It is not something that should
only be left up to the "experts." I am capable! It might take me a
while to work up to making something as complicated as foie gras, and I
might even decide that foie gras is not something that suits me, so I
might not even try.
Sorry for the food analogy. I
must be hungry. My point is, every family will homeschool differently!
Sure, I will use textbooks for arithmetic. Math is not my strongest
subject, and my math-loving husband isn't available to answer questions
all day long. However, I am freeing myself from the idea that someone
else knows better than I what my children need to learn. I am learning
to rely on God to guide me to the resources He wants me to use to teach my children.
It is not an easy process, and believe me, I like easy! I want
to use that shiny new curriculum that comes in a box and promises to
teach my children everything their little brain needs to know without
any gaps. And I found great comfort in those boxes of curriculum in the
beginning of our homeschool journey. That might be the path that God
has for some people! Who am I to say that God wants every family to do
things the way I feel He is telling me to do them? *This is not a
salvation issue.* I just want to have time to teach my children
everything that I feel is most important for them to learn. I want them
to develop the kind of strong character that can withstand Satan's
attacks. I want them to put on the full armor of God, and I just don't
have time to teach my children what my husband and I have decided that
we want them to know when they are spending all of their "school" hours
answering questions that are only important to someone else. I believe
that it should be every homeschool family's highest priority to define
the goals they have for their children and their education. Even if
those change over time, just figure out what is important to you and
why! If you shoot for nothing, you'll hit it every time.
I never ever pick up another textbook to use to teach my children? I
am not saying that at all (see math comment above!). And I have a very
faithful husband who keeps me accountable to fully utilize the resources
I have been led to. (Have I mentioned that I am highly distractible?)
We also consult the World Book Typical Course of Study to determine many of the topics we feel are important to cover during our homeschooling years.
is where I ask my questions and then stand on my soapbox for a bit.
When we decide that our children's education will not be complete until
our children learn certain things (or do certain things), are we leaving
room for the Holy Spirit to work? Certainly, my husband and I have
taken the time to pray and to ask God to lay on our hearts what is
important for us to teach our children. We have agreed and decided on
what we believe is important for our children to know. But beyond the
things that God leads us to, are there any further requirements? And
why do we all (read: why do *I*) stress out so much about meeting
standards that have been decided by atheist, socialist men who do not
believe that our children have eternal souls? Men who believe that our
children should be taken away from us for the majority of their day
early in their lives so that our influence on them can be limited as
much as possible?
When you read that these people (who,
may I remind you and myself, are the ones who decided what the current
standards of education should be) do not believe in a Holy God, and feel
strongly that parents do not have the right to decide what is best for
the children that God has entrusted to us, how does that make you feel?
It makes me feel like shouting from the rooftops that these heathens
are trying to take away the most important part of my children's
education! They want to fill my little ones' minds with humanistic
philosophies, knowledge of a world that God had no part in creating and
doesn't care about today -- actually, how could He care, if He doesn't
even exist? I don't want my children learning about that world. NO! I
will fight against those teachings with every breath. Or I should. I
This is what we, as parents who are under
God's authority, have been commanded to do. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 "Hear, O
Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your
strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your
heart. You shall teach them 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your
hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write
them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Do these sound
like the words of a God who doesn't care if we make Him a priority in
our children's education? Where in the Bible does it say, "You shall
teach your children arithmetic, phonics, grammar, science, and history.
Oh, and if you have time after that, and everyone is still in a good
mood, read a Bible story so that God can have a place in your day."
Do we really and truly believe in the God we say we believe in? Then we need to teach our children about Him! Before we do anything else! Better yet, while we are doing everything
else. God should not be an addendum to our curriculum. God is a
jealous God. He should be the most important part of our children's
education. We need to reach our children's hearts!!
we truly believe that God is all knowing? All powerful? Then why do
we think that we have failed if we don't teach our children every bit of
knowledge that is in the world today, during the 13 years of their
"formal education?" (Yes, I am over-exaggerating to make my point.)
How many times does a girl go all the way through school, college,
graduate school... and then realize that her most fulfilling role is as a
loving, humble wife and mother serving her family and helping and
uplifting her husband as God intended for married women to do? How many
times does a boy go through school, college, etc. and end up doing
something completely different from what he has spent decades being
trained to do?
As a Christian, it is my duty to
develop in my children a love for God, a fear of His Almighty Power, and
an ability to be still and listen to the Holy Spirit's leading in their
lives!! What could possibly be more important than that? Yes, the
grammar will be taught. Yes, they will be required to know their math
facts. I am not arguing with the fact that those things are important.
However, I am realizing that my priorities have shifted from
emphasizing academics above all else (who doesn't want their kids to
excel?) to making sure that following God is our family's top priority.
post may seem disjointed and all over the place! I realize that there
are many topics here. I will try to answer my own questions along my
homeschool journey for the benefit of others. I have been pondering
many questions over the past few years. Some of them I have answered
for myself, and some of them I am still seeking answers to. I have been
reading Educating the Wholehearted Child,
by Clay and Sally Clarkson, and it is challenging and encouraging me,
and is opening up a whole new perspective on homeschooling for me. I
have also been introduced over the past couple of years to the Eclectic Education Series and Sherry Hayes at Large Family Mothering.
These people, and their wonderful resources that have been birthed from
decades of teaching their own children, have helped this searching mama
find some truths that I needed to hear.