“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
Forming Good Homeschool Habits
What a comforting and challenging scripture that is. I know that we all aspire to do the best job that we can do with our kids and we know how important we are in the process.
About 8 years ago I was at the end of my tether with homeschooling. I was contemplating giving up. I felt the burden of all that I had to teach—getting it right was overwhelming. The buck stopped with me and I just didn’t feel I had the goods to succeed, even though I knew I had God to help me. As I failed the little challenges I set up for myself I slumped further into self-doubt and condemnation of my ability to do this job properly.
I gave in! I sent my two oldest to school (then 6 and 7) and began rethinking and asking God for help.
During that time I was first exposed to the teachings of Charlotte Mason and her ideas on habits. I realised that I’d been feeling so overwhelmed because I was tackling my children’s education from the wrong end. I was looking at all that I needed to teach rather than training them where they were at.
One night I remember dreaming about wooden blocks and on each block was written the name habit. If I wanted to build myself a block tower I needed to place one habit block on top of the other. When morning came I knew my focus for homeschooling needed to change if I was to succeed.
At the end of the term my children finished school and we started homeschooling again. This time I had a new focus and attitude. I had faith that if I trained now, God would look after the future.
From that time on I have seen the value of working on the now with homeschooling. Training now and not fretting about where I think I should be. If my child needs extra time studying a subject, we study it longer—even if it seems they are behind for their grade. If a math lesson has to stop because I need to deal with behaviour issues then it must stop. If we have to visit a sick Grandma, lessons can be cut short.
The habits and principles we are teaching are training their heart, mind and hands. I remind myself I am teaching the whole child not just a portion.
An Education That Reflects The Way They Should Go
As my children have matured I have seen new dimensions of child training and how it is a guiding principle that we need to grasp as parents.
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible has this commentary on the Proverbs 22:6 scripture.
Train – Initiate, and so, educate.
The way he should go – Or, according to the tenor of his way, i.e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individual’s character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child’s temperament and the adaptation of “his way of life” to that.
Now that my kids are older I see that I am not just preparing them to be God lovers and followers, I am also helping to prepare them for the special path that God has ordained for them. My focus is not one of enforcing my standards to make sure they do nothing wrong (although it is tempting) but rather looking how to see them blossom and pursue their spiritual destiny.
When you homeschool you are well placed to see the gifts and talents of your children. When you see those gifts you need to prayerfully ask God how to nurture those attributes. Cookie cutter education is not a problem for homeschoolers as we have the advantage of tailoring education to suit our children. For some children school may be in the future. For others it may be homeschooling all the way through. The challenge is to get it right and let God guide your decisions.
Training children is not about making the left-handed child write with their right hand. It is about recognising that God built them left-handed and encouraging them to write beautifully with their left hand. It’s not about teaching the short-sighted child to see properly, it’s about giving them glasses to strengthen their vision.
Can I encourage you to prayerfully look at your children and ask God to continue to give you the training schedule!
First Published 4th March 2012