Last week I drove to Washington D.C. with my family to attend the Teach Them Diligently homeschool convention, but we were also planning to spend time in our nation’s capitol. Our eldest daughters (13 and 11 years old) are very interested in learning about our nation’s history and really wanted to see the places and documents that are central to the founding of our country and our government operations today.
My homeschooling parents took Rosanna, Elizabeth and me to Washington D.C. as part of a long East Coast educational tour in the late 1980s (see Rosanna’s account of this adventure), but I haven’t returned since — and my wife and children have never visited. So we thought this would be a great opportunity to combine both purposes into one road trip.
Honestly my first concern was getting there safely. While driving through Colorado and Kansas in the middle of the night, I had complete focus on the thought that my diligence as a driver was paramount to the success of our journey. What a metaphor for the role of a father: Driving through the dark of night with my family sleeping semi-comfortably in their seats, trusting that I will not fall asleep at the wheel or make a mistake that will cause an accident. Um, yeah, if only all fathers lived like that every day. Little did I know that what lay in store for me at the homeschooling convention was more confirmation of something I already knew.
I heard a lot of speakers and gained much information from my few days at the Teach Them Diligently convention. I won’t be specific on what I learned from each speaker, but instead give a summary of the overarching wisdom that was reinforced — or in some cases newly gained.
- A Christ-centered life is imperative for a father and leader of a household. This Biblical truth was reinforced throughout the sessions. How can we as husbands and fathers expect our wife and children to emulate Christ if we don’t set that example?
- My responsibility as a father is family evangelism and discipleship. I need to lead my family by example: love my wife, love my children and teach them the source of that love by living an authentic life as a Christian. To teach my children how to live not through manipulation but by leading them to God’s truth through example and training.
- Homeschooling for us is not only about academic achievement. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? (Mark 8:36-37) My No. 1 priority is to raise children who love Christ and are His disciples, and for them to realize that practical information is useless without theological foundation. That said, it’s also important to teach them that a focus on Christian discipleship and theology does not negate academics and intellectualism. God created our minds, and we are made to be intellectual. Until about 150 years ago, most intellectual thought came from believers. God gave us an ordered world so that we could learn and understand it: It is not random.
- Worldview is important. A Christian worldview is Creation, Fall, Salvation and Judgment. This is very different from a secular humanistic worldview of Big Bang, Evolution, Naturalism and Utopia. Without parents teaching a Christian worldview, our children are only exposed to secular humanism and a false worldview that teaches them moral relativism and that only man can solve our problems. As Christian parents, it’s better to raise our children knowing hard truths than to go into the world with a soft mind that will be easily changed.
- Biblical authority is central to the discussion of creation. Genesis is a book of the Bible intentionally included by God. How can we believe in an infallible and all-powerful God and somehow decide that His Word is only allegory or makes mistakes at times? It is not up to man to pick and choose what we want to believe in the Bible: It is either infallible or it is not. However, science doesn’t disprove the Bible: Observable science doesn’t disprove the possibility of six-day creation and a young (approx. 6,000 year old) earth. Modern evolutionists have duped Christians into thinking that they have to compromise their beliefs in order accept “true” science. However, evolution is founded upon never-ending presumptions that can’t be reproduced or proved in nature scientifically today. Yet evolutionists force those beliefs on our culture and children relentlessly as if it’s an undeniable fact. If we observe our world truly scientifically, we can only prove a “devolving” (degeneration, loss of information) of life on earth.
- We must be knowledgeable about our government. Lack of knowledge about our founding fathers, their personal beliefs, how they intended government to operate, and what they actually said in both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, is leading to a complete failure in execution of government in our country today, as well as our ability to defend those foundational principles. It is up to future generations to succeed where previous generations have failed, and they can only do this if they truly understand the foundation of our country.
- There is no “perfect” homeschool family. There are always going to be imbalances and gaps, but we should focus on what we can give our children, not on what they might miss out on. If we live education every moment of every day, there are no deadlines, no school bells: Living is learning. My parents were a great example of this when I was growing up homeschooled, and what I heard from a practical perspective from the speakers was more of a reinforcement of what I already witnessed in our homeschooling family. Also, we are all wired to learn individually, and we only need to be taught that learning is enjoyable — and that it never ends.
- A traditional four-year college degree is not necessary for every child. A vein of continuity at the conference that I agree with was that there are many easily available forms of higher education outside the traditional four-year college experience, including vocational school, junior college, online programs or even apprenticeship. The point is that we are all happier in our called vocation rather than being forced into a generic one-size-fits-all system. God calls us all — but not all to the same thing. We should apply this understanding to our children and not set expectations for them that may go against what God is calling them to do.
- God designed the family structure. A patriarch family structure (with the father bearing the responsibility for leadership of the family) is Biblical and should be obvious to believers. It’s not only how God intended our families to operate, but it’s a living model for relationship with Him. The world seems to view this as strange and, at worst, as some type of manipulation. However, when the patriarch structure is genuine and under submission to God’s authority, it can be a powerful example to the world we live in.
I was really encouraged by how many fathers attended this Teach Them Diligently homeschooling convention. I could see that homeschooling parents are more united as a family today, and they are investing their lives in what they believe is right. Fathers are taking a leadership role in their family’s education — that is encouraging. I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of speakers and the continuity of message. Even speakers that covered diverse subjects, such as religion, science or politics, all had a message of hope for parents that there is a diligent way to train up your children, both intellectually and Christ-centered. We need not be tied to the world’s expectations about how we homeschool our children. My wife Renée came away with a similar optimism: See her post for more on a mom’s point of view.
On the way home from Washington D.C., I again had to spend hours driving in the dark of night, knowing that all I love on this earth was in that Honda Pilot with me. I prayed a lot, because I had the time and because I had a deeper understanding about what God wants from me. I know now that every day I spend with my family, I should be as diligent as I was that night. Though we are on a perilous journey, the destination is great!
How many dads out there have attended a homeschooling convention with your wife? If so, what stood out the most to you? Are you planning to attend any homeschool conventions this year? If so, what do you look forward to most? What would you like to see added for fathers who attend homeschool conventions?