Today I want to quickly list a few “homeschooling” goals that are straight from Scripture. I’m hoping to gain some principles I can use to choose a homeschooling philosophy, method and curriculum out of the trillions of options that are available to me.
Actually, these are goals for all parents, not just homeschoolers, so everyone — listen up!
1. Homeschooling starts with “well-educated” parents.
Biblically, the definition of “well-educated” is a father and mother who thoroughly know the Bible, God’s Word. In other words, a knowledge of math, grammar, science, and history isn’t as necessary as the knowledge of Scripture. If you know your Bible — and if you don’t, you should! — then you are extremely “well-educated.”
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children (Deuteronomy 6:1-7, emphasis mine).
Education is not just head knowledge, though. A truly well-educated person knows how to apply knowledge to everyday life and lives it out in all her decisions and actions. The same is true with God’s Word. It’s one thing to know God’s Word; it’s yet another to act on your knowledge.
“He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,
and for his children it will be a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26).
So a successful homeschool, according to God, is one in which the parents have a thorough, working knowledge of the Bible and a fear of God that results in obedience to His Word. As you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum, be very sure that the authors uphold the authority of Scripture and will help teach you first if you’re lacking in your own knowledge.
2. A homeschooling parents’s job is to teach.
Yes, Scripture seems to make it very clear that education is led by the father and mother, not by the child. A child is not born with knowledge, wisdom, or understanding. Rather, a child is born with the same selfish, sinful, and pleasure-seeking nature that follows you around most days. Your child, left to himself, will choose to please himself, never think of others, be lazy and avoid hard work, and do only what looks wise in his own eyes.
When Deuteronomy 6:7 says we are to “impress” God’s commands on our children, the idea is that we are to intensively poke, pierce, prod, and drill these commands into our children. God has presented us with the curriculum (His Word and commands), and the “method” He has chosen is for us “drill” it into our children.
Note also that the curriculum is set! We don’t get to pick the subjects. God is clear that we are to teach His commands.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
So as you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum and methods, simply toss out any of that “gentle” advice that seems to hint that children just pick things up naturally, without any effort on your part or theirs. Keep the methods that require you as a mother to do hard work, impressing and drilling and teaching. It might not be as fun, but it’s biblical.
Also, as you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum and methods, get rid of secular, humanistic textbooks and concentrate your efforts on teaching Scripture so your children will be “thoroughly equipped.”
3. A homeschooled child’s job is to listen.
Here the Scripture stands in firm opposition to the politically correct notion that parents should be the ones doing all the listening. Rather, the Bible repeatedly warns children to honor, obey, listen to instruction, hear, pay attention, and hearken. I don’t have space to list all the verses, because there were so many! Proverbs even opens with this thought:
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck (Proverbs 1:8-9).
Therefore, one of the first jobs of a mother is to teach her child to listen to her. Paying attention to authority isn’t just a nice thought; it’s vital to everything else in your child’s life. If your child will not look at you when speak, pay attention to your words, and obediently do what you say, then you will certainly fail in your homeschooling.
So as you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum and methods, it’s urgent that you choose methods that will help your child learning listening skills. Choose curriculum that reinforces the importance of following directions, paying attention to you as teacher, and obeying instructions from the very earliest age.
4. Homeschooling requires a large time commitment.
If you weren’t groaning before, you probably are now! With seven children, I can certainly understand the frustrations involved in trying to be a wife, maintain a home, be involved in ministry, maybe work a business, and even have time to play a little online — all on top of getting school done each day. It can be agonizing.
Yet Scripture is absolutely clear on where my priorities must be.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Proverbs 29:15).
Can it get any more clear than that? “The rod and reproof” require a mother who is physically present in the room with her children. A child “left to himself” will bring me to shame — both now and in the future.
These verses haunt me! My own inclination is to give my children over to someone or something else who has more time than I do, but the Bible is clear with whom they should be spending their time. It’s also clear with whom I must be spending my time, even though I would almost always rather be doing something more “fun” or “glamorous.”
So as you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum and methods, the Bible is clear that we need to choose ones which require my physical presence in the room with my children if we expect them to get any wisdom from their education and if we don’t want to be ashamed of them someday.
5. Homeschooling instruction should be pleasant.
Aren’t you glad God put this into His Word? After the cold-hard facts of the previous four points, homeschooling could be a real drudgery without this. God, however, is a God of love, joy and peace. Even though His standards are high, His methods are hard work, and His curriculum is rigorous, His schoolroom atmosphere is pleasant, fun, and inviting.
“The wise in heart are called discerning,
and pleasant words promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:21).
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26, KJV).
I’ve enjoyed recently having a room set aside for just school, but for many years we used the kitchen table, the living room, and even the back seat of the van as our school room. Maps, decorations, and windows with bright sunshine can certainly add to the pleasantness of our homeschooling days.
However, God says the one essential thing to a pleasant, joyful, instruction-promoting school environment is your tongue. Your words will make or break it. Do you want your children to love learning? Do you want them to be passionate about discovery, lifelong learners, and avid readers? Rather than investing your money and time into special equipment, expensive encyclopedias, and fancy computer software, God says to use “pleasant words.”
So as you read homeschooling how-to books and choose curriculum and methods, look for those that will help you succeed as a mom by promoting your own godly character. In fact, rather than reading all those books and searching through stacks of catalogs, maybe your time would be better spent with God Himself.
“Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).