When we first started homeschooling, I believed I was homeschooling for the right reason… and I was. More than anything else, I wanted my children to love God, to have a personal relationship with Him, and to live their lives for Him. But back then, I had no idea how to go about implementing this mission, or how to keep this priority as the focus of our homeschooling.
Like many other homeschool families, we wanted to educate our children from a Christian worldview. Secondary to that, we wanted to live life as a family without the daily pressure of peers and multiple activities pulling us apart. Of course, we also wanted our children to have a good education, but more than that, to learn to think for themselves.
As I’ve been preparing for the new homeschool year this summer, I have been revisiting this homeschool mission — examining the outcome of past years with our two elder daughters and praying for direction from God moving forward with my two young sons.
With our daughters, who we started homeschooling in 2005 through high school graduation, I believe we hit the mark on those things. They have good educations that paved the way for their next steps. The eldest is going to Oral Roberts University this year on a very nice scholarship, and the younger one is managing both of our busy donut shops. We have a close-knit family life, even working with one another. And our daughters have a Christian worldview and great character.
However, I have also learned that I really can’t control whether the extrinsic teachings become intrinsic beliefs in their lives. And I struggle with the fact that as they make their own decisions, I am limited in my influence when I don’t agree with them — especially when they grieve me. I find myself wondering: Did I do something wrong? What, if anything, should I do differently now?
God is so good. He knew I would be going through this right now, and in perfect timing, He started speaking into my life about this through workshops I have been hearing, blogs and books I have been reading, and people I have been talking to that are sharing their wisdom with me on this subject. I’m learning to let go, pray for my children, and recognize that I do not have control of the ultimate outcome — God does.
As I look ahead at my approach with my younger sons, I am learning that yes, I need to consistently discipline them, but I can’t make them stop making bad decisions. It takes consistent training to change their habits, but at some point that extrinsic training has to become intrinsic: They have to make it their own. Because then they leave home and they make their own decisions.
However, I have also realized that my mode of homeschooling needs to change. I may believe that my priority as a homeschool parent is to disciple my children, but in the daily grind that often gets forgotten. I worry too much about getting the academics done, marking each lesson off on the lesson planner. At times, I even let character training upstage the real issue.
The most important part of my day should be showing my children the Gospel. Character training and education are secondary to their relationship with God. So the trick is, how do I consistently keep that the focus in my homeschool?
After praying and meditating on this all summer, I have a plan:
- Family Worship: We have tried this at night in the past but I think we need to start our day off with it. A song, a scripture, discussion, and prayer together as a family. My plan is to have family worship at least twice a week.
- Elementary Christian Worldview with Apologia: We started Apologia’s What We Believe series midway through last year, and we are really enjoying it. The books are interesting, they help start discussion and teach in a step-by-step format. We are currently finishing “Who is God?” then we will move on to “Who Am I?” next.
- Awana: We also started the Awana program midway through last year, and we’ll continue with it this year. I love hearing the boys practice their memory verses.
- Doing my own devotions, worship, and prayer in front of the boys: I used to try to get my devotions done while the boys were still sleeping, but I think it is important for them to see me spending time with God as a part of my day, along with talking about God during our day.
Of course, the character training and academic education are still important — and there is plenty of time in our day for everything to get done. However, if my kids leave my home without a relationship with Jesus, then I have failed them. While I can’t control the outcome, I can make sure our daily activity is truly in line with our homeschool mission.
As Christians, what is our main priority for raising our kids? Do we raise them to be happy, well-adjusted Americans? To study hard, get into a good college, and get a great job? Should it be our main priority to prepare and train them to live a good life here on this earth? Or should it be more important that we prepare and train them for the heavenly kingdom?
I realize there must be training to live on earth, to fulfill the call God has on their lives and to provide for and take care of themselves and a family. But our time on earth is just the preview. I believe we parents need to be more concerned with the discipleship of our children, teaching them how to have a relationship with creator God and go through the process of sanctification, so that they will be ready for life in heaven, our eternal home.
For more on this topic, see my sister-in-law Renée’s previous post on defining your homeschool mission: Do I Need a Homeschool Mission Statement?
Have you defined your homeschool mission? If you have, what challenges have you faced when putting your mission into practice? Are you making any changes in your homeschool this year as a result? What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?