Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guest Post: Our Family's Homeschool Story

Photo courtesy of val

How we came to homeschool:

I remember the first time I ever met a homeschooling family. It was back in 1996. We had just moved to Tallahassee, FL and joined a wonderful church body. There were several families in the church body in our that homeschooled. They more I talked with these mothers the more I would think “WOW, I want to do that!” At this point, my husband (Jimmy) and I hadn’t even been married a year and weren’t even pregnant, but I was convinced that it was God’s calling in my life to be a homeschool mom. Through lots of prayer and many discussions with these families, my husband was convicted as well. Early on, however, he only thought homeschooling was something we would do until our children reached middle school. He thought they needed extra curricula activities to be “well-rounded”. My conviction was to homeschool all the way through. Move forward to 2000. Our beautiful daughter (Grace) was born as was my “career” as a homeshooling mom. Any mother that stays home with their children is homeschooling them. It doesn’t matter if they are 2 or 9. We are constantly teaching our children; but, how should we teach them.

Blessings of homeschooling:

Michael Farris in his book The Spiritual Power of a Mother: Encouragement for the Homeschooling Mom says A decision to homeschool is not a mere decision to deliver academic content with the tutorial method. It is a decision to invest the essence of your life, your time, in the lives of your children. Homeschooling gives us all a uniquely intense opportunity to fall deeply in love with our children and they with us.

For most homeschoolers I know, academics are not the goal, it is teaching and training our children to live godly lives that will glorify God. It is about the relationships with our children. Our children’s hearts will be turned to someone. I would rather that be her father and me and not a public school teacher or a team coach or her friends. It’s about protecting them from the negative influences of the world while giving them purpose and direction. Why is it important to have their heart? Again, I will let Teri Maxwell answer that question through her and her husband’s book Keeping Our Children’s Hearts.

When we have a child’s heart, we have the ability to influence that heart. Our ultimate goal as Christian parents is to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4) If we don’t have the heart, the child will likely be lured and pulled to the attractions of the world. If we are to keep our children’s hearts, they must feel our love so strongly that there is never any doubt of it in their minds. They should know we love them when they are obedient and when they are disobedient, when they are happy and when they are sad, when they are delight and when they are negligent - all the time. They must feel they are valued in our eyes. While this love and value may intrinsically be a part of our lives, we have to convey it to our children so they are heedful of it. If all we ever do is to correct, rebuke, lecture and discipline our children, it will be difficult for them to be aware of the love we have for them. However, if we continually find ways to praise, edify and encourage them, their hearts will be pulled toward us. Proverbs 13:20 tells us, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” To us this verse says that we, as parents, are responsible to the Lord in helping our children walk with wise men. If we allow them through their childhood and teen years to be companions of fools, then we could be enabling their destruction. We also read, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child…” (Proverbs 22:15). Most children are full of foolishness, If our children spend every weekday during the school year with foolish children, they will not be walking with the wise, and we will be endorsing the loss of their hearts in the process.

How should we teach:

I agree with Teri Maxwell. I would like to share with you some excerpts from her book, Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. She talks about the importance of teaching with, you guessed it, a meek and quiet spirit. The excerpts are italicized.

Webster’s 1858 dictionary definition of meek and quiet.

Meek: “mild of temper, soft, gentle, not easily provoked or irritated”.

Quiet: “peaceable, not turbulent, not giving offense, mild, meek and contented

Meek and Quiet Spirit Robbers

You didn’t get enough sleep.

The baby is wailing in the middle of your quiet time.

Bickering children first thing in the morning.

Stacks of laundry.

Waking up to a messy kitchen.

Etc., etc., etc………

You get the idea, basically anything that throws us off schedule. Homeschooling moms LOVE their schedules.

We must be very careful how we react to these interruptions. We must glorify God in ALL we do. Our children’s hearts are not going to be receptive to our instruction if we are impatient or snapping at them all day long.

The key to our meek and quiet spirit is time with the Lord Jesus Christ. However, we think we need those few extra minutes of sleep to help us through the day rather than rising when the alarm goes off. Our need is not for sleep, although it is important to assure we are getting adequate rest. Our need is for the empowering that comes through intimacy with the One Who called us to the task of home educating.

There is nothing we can do that will have a greater impact on our lives or the lives of our children than our quiet time with Jesus.

Missylou is a 41-year-old wife and mother. She's been married for almost 14 years and a mother for 9. God graciously saved her when she was 27 years old. She fails daily, but it is her heart's desire to live a godly life; always putting God first. She absolutely loves being a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. There is nothing else she would rather do.

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