I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Last week, I gave 4 ways to maximize discipleship in the homeschooled home (and you can read that initial post here). Continuing from there, here are a few more thoughts….
#5 Allow them room to make some choices (even bad ones).
It may seem counter intuitive, but as a homeschooling mom, I want my kids to be around enough worldliness to feel the weight of making moral choices apart from me. I don’t mean that I hope they are offered drugs at age 9…but I’m okay with them being around a kid who says some bad words at age 8. I want them to feel the allure of “going with the crowd” so that they can build up enough self-control to say “no” to more damaging sins when they are 18.
It’s a little like germs, we like to avoid them, but if we avoid them completely we are actually setting ourselves up for sickness. It’s better if we have enough germ exposure to build up a strong immune system. And we want our kids to have a strong spiritual system, if you will — and a little exposure to the temptations out there can be useful in learning to fight sin, in saying no to temptation, and knowing how to get back up after they fall.
#6 Find avenues for evangelism.
If we are going to disciple our kids, we are going to teach them God’s command to go make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). In other words, our goal should be to make disciples who make disciples! And this can potentially take extra effort if your interaction with non-Christians is more limited because you are home more often.
But without a doubt, non-Christians aren’t far from any of us, we may just need to seek them out. So make sure to do so. Get to know neighbors, sign your kids up for community sports, join some homeschooling classes, or purposefully invest in extended family members.
The point is: make it a priority to get to know non-Christians, pray for non-Christians, and share the gospel with non-Christians. If our kids don’t see us doing it now, I don’t know why we’d assume they will grow up and do it later.
#7 Be extra intentional in your discussions.
When you send your kids to school, you typically are pushed into dealing with a myriad of issues whether you like it or not (issues related to friends, clothing choices, music, media, dating, sexuality, etc.). While that’s not always fun, parents are forced to step up and help their kids grow up. As homeschoolers you can probably take a slower route in dealing with some issues — but the danger is, we might end up avoiding the issues altogether. So we need to do some intentional talking as homeschooling parents.
There are 3 ways I think to do this. First of all, I don’t hold a lot back. Meaning, if an issue about clothing comes up, I just open the “can of worms” and discuss varies aspects of modesty. If we hear a song that says something questionable, I’ll talk about it. If an ad is promoting something unbiblical, I’ll bring attention to it. If we are at the mall and we see something ungodly, we’ll discuss it. In this way, I know we are covering a myriad of issues, and we will likely find ourselves discussing the important ones at some point.
Secondly, I like to use resources like “Sticky Situations.” While my homeschooled kids may be in less sticky situations than they’d be outside of my home, they still need to know how to respond when they are eventually in such a situation. So we go there together mentally and discuss how God wants us to live.
And thirdly, I like to plan ahead. If I know I have X number of years before my child is leaving my house as a young adult, I’m keeping an eye on all the issues she should learn before then. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm her during her last year with us, instead I want her to learn to think biblically little by little all throughout her childhood and teen years.
#8 Don’t assume your kids are morally safe.
Some homeschooling parents keep their kids home to keep them “safe” morally. One problem with this thinking is the fact that our own souls are not morally safe. By that I mean, we are by nature sinners drawn to sin — and no sheltering can prevent that. This might sound discouraging, but it’s meant to encourage you to stay on our your toes. Remember that your kids can be drawn away to follow the world by anything — their own desires, through TV, movies, friends, family, social media…again, anything. So don’t ever hit cruise control because your kids seem sweet and responsible and safe from worldly influences. Stay diligent in your training, stay thoughtful in your discipleship, and most of all, stay faithful in your praying!
#9 Pray a lot!
Surely you homeschool because you see some benefit in it. But know that any and all effort will only produce temporary results if God is not involved. So pray God uses all of your investment to point your kids to him. Ask God to give you wisdom to prepare them well. Ask God to grab a hold of their hearts causing them to follow him with every ounce of their being.
Homeschooling is just a schooling method — it’s not magical, it’s just one of many ways to educate our kids. But with it comes a lot of responsibility to maximize the time we have with our children to train them well. So seize the opportunity, thoughtfully disciple your kids, and pray your heart out begging God to use your efforts to set your kids up for spiritual success.