As you may know, we are in the middle of a blog series on discipling your child with their unique schooling context in mind. The last couple weeks we thought through the public school context, and if you missed those posts you can find them here and here. But today we are moving on to the homeschoolers…
I currently homeschool my kids, and I’ve grown to love doing it. I don’t know if I will do it forever, but for the time being, I enjoy many facets of it.
One of the interesting things about homeschooling is how different each family does it. The way I homeschool may be entirely different from how you do it, and it may look even more drastically different for someone in a different part of the country (or world). We all have different resources, different methods, different schedules, different children, and different reasons we jumped into homeschooling in the first place.
But for as different as we all are, as Christian parents, our goal really should be the same: to disciple our children. Actually, that’s the goal for every Christian parent regardless of where our kids go to school. However, homeschooling has it’s unique pro’s and cons — and that’s what I’m here to talk about. I’ve come up with 9 ways to maximize discipleship in the homeschooled home (though I’ll only share the first 4 today).
#1 Prioritize spiritual training.
As I mentioned in the first part of this blog series, I’ve dabbled in all types of schooling. And one of the things I noticed when I sent my girls to public school was how intentional I was each morning. Because I knew my time with my kids was more limited, I maximized those morning moments with profitable books about the bible, Christian history, and apologetics. Then I began to homeschool, and I was surprised to find it took even more intentionality to jump into such quality content. In other words, though homeschooling gave me more time with my kids, I also had a lot more subjects to cover — such as math, history, science, reading, writing, etc. (Ya know, the schooling part of school.)
All that to say, we can’t just assume spiritual training is happening because we have more time with our children. We have to purposefully jump into the kind of material that will strengthen their knowledge and understanding of biblical things. It really does take a resolve to prioritize spiritual training.
#2 Save enough energy to be a good example.
Homeschooling can be kind of like an apprenticeship. Not only are our kids learning their academics at home, but they are learning how a real-life Christian does real life from sun up to sun down. But that means you actually need to be the kind of example you want your kids to follow from sun up to sun down!
In one sense, it’s like you’ve traded in the examples your kids would’ve had at schools outside your home for your example — that may not have been your goal, but for all practical purposes that’s what’s taking place. And that should rightfully feel a bit weighty to think about. Just by the sheer logic of time spent with your kids, you are having a huge influence; so make sure it’s a good one!
Make sure they are learning from a mom who truly loves God and his word, who respects her husband, who is patient and joyful, who prioritizes the church and evangelism and hospitality. I know you feel busy, and I know you can’t be perfect, but if you are going to take on the role of being mom and teacher, make sure you’re ready to handle it all with godliness and grace — because your example will stick far more than any math lesson you do.
#3 Expose your kids to worldly ideas.
I suppose we could fully shelter our kids from the world if they were going to remain under our shelter forever. But the reality is, they will not. They will become adults who will need to deal with the world in some fashion. Lord willing, they will reject a “love of the world” (1 John 2:15-17), but they still need to know how to process it all from a biblical worldview. Of course, all kids need to learn to do this, but homeschooled families could theoretically (whether intentionally or accidentally) avoid it — and we should not.
We need to have meaningful conversations about what “goes on out there.” We don’t want our kids to be clueless, we don’t want their friends (or the internet) to be their moral educators, and we don’t want them trying to figure it out on their own.
All that to say, actively help your kids make sense of the world from a biblical angle.
# 4 Provide some social outlets.
There’s no lack of social gatherings in my neck of the woods, but I’m sure that’s not true everywhere, so you may need to seek some out. The aim is not “socializing your kids” so they don’t turn out weird (although avoiding social awkwardness isn’t a bad thing), but rather, so your kids can grow in their ability to interact well with peers. They need to know how to deal with conflict, how to handle people they don’t like, how to wait their turn, how to selflessly put others first; they need to know how to love a variety of people.
Here’s a practical way to look at it: Picture your child as an adult who’s now integrated into the life of the church, or who is working on a group project at work. What skills should they gain now so that they can one day work well, wisely, and selflessly with other people?
…And before I lose you in a sea of 1000 more words, I will stop. But please come back next week for 5 more ways to maximize discipleship in the homeschooled home…