A Few Thoughts on Wholehearted Homeschooling


Homeschooling must include mocha frappicino's to be effective!

A pioneers in the homeschooling movement, Clay and I had to imagine and design what the effects of our teaching would have on the long term life of our children. Ideals shaped the habits, rhythms and training of our children. Diligence to follow our plan was a constant effort to be sure we were faithful to be attentive to our children.

Many of you have heard our kids speak, or have read their writing in their books or on blogs, and heard their compositions and performances in various music, speech and debate, ministry arenas and in our conferences.

"Were all of your children just naturally intelligent? How did you give them that vocabulary? Why have your children stayed faithful to our ideals and to their faith in God?"

My wonderful children were just normal fun, loud, spunky kids who loved life together in our home. So many questions and letters--and probably a desire for us to give a formula!

The foundation and strength of our homeschool, of course, was our dependence on God, His word and His spirit's work in the life of our family and children's hearts.  But I do believe that because each child was made in the image of God, he has a capacity to be morally excellent, mentally strong, and accomplished in life. It is parents who must "call out" the capacity and ability of each child for God's glory.

As I have pondered these questions, I realize that I have very strong convictions about what really cultivates a strong and faithful heart, a deep and engaged soul and an agile, intellectually capable mind.

Four Areas come to mind:

1. A strong sense of self is necessary for a child to grow into the calling of God on his life. Heritage, history, self-government, and habits of excellence give children a roadway on which to move forward in developing confidence as adults.

2. A strong sense of place creates home as a haven, a place to read and discuss, a sanctuary for outreach to others, the center for traditions, morality, education and life as an anchor to the life that proceeds from the home.

3. Mental muscles  and strength are developed by reading the best authors, finest stories, observing excellent art and understanding the best composers, as well as being aware of the world issues, places and cultures, and discussing real ideas as a way of life. Intellectual acuity is possible to all children with all personalities because each one was crafted in the image of God. How adults view children's capacity is foundational to requiring excellence of skill and attention.

4. Discipleship training and practice in ministry expands the soul familiarity of Jesus's call on the lives of our children. But this must be experienced as a routine part of the family life. Love for Christ and discussions on a daily basis about the Word, practicing prayer together, and obeying God as a community provides healthy spiritual formation.

This summer, I have been watching my children interact over music and wrangle over books and movies, giggle over stories of the year reviewed, speaking passionately about convictions and taking turns patting our ancient golden retriever is always such a joy to me. The mind, soul and spiritual strength arose from the life of these commitments within the walls of our home every day. We spent so many hours here, the six of us, doing just those very things day in and day out for so many years! While there are many reasons homeschooling was a perfect fit for our family, this together-ness was perhaps the greatest gift of all, and the one I miss most now that they've flown (though only intermittently, thankfully!)

So much has changed in the homeschool world since we began. Speaking at several homeschool conferences this year reminded me of how sheerly overwhelming and perhaps confusing current glut of information, advice, and direction must be--especially to new homeschoolers.

And so I'm planning to share some thoughts on educating children at home each week. These articles will be shaped to encourage vision and application of education principles.  We realize each family must figure out its own particular puzzle. After many years of discipling young, new believers both here and overseas, we knew that when we did have children, that same dedication to discipleship must continue to mark our lives. Homeschooling just seemed a natural outgrowth of the way we wanted to raise our children.

At the time we were quite free to do whatever we wanted in terms of curriculum, scheduling (or not!) etc. because there just weren't the proliferation of confusing voices defining all of the formulas of home education! We were intentionally let's-read-lots-of-exceptional-books-together sort, by having researched educational options and data that suggested how to cultivate academic excellence. Reading as a focus required copious amounts of time. Exposing our children to the greatest thinkers, artists, musicians, and all things beautiful was our general "plan." But we did feel pressure sometimes for our children to behave in a certain way or to respond in a particular way to our direction, because of the criticism and opinions of others. As we have written about it in Educating the WholeHearted Child ...

"In our early years of homeschooling, we tried to follow laws of behavior to be more acceptable to God and others; we tried to conform to laws of belief in order to fit into movements or groups. Rather than sensing a freedom in the Spirit, though, we would end up feeling, in Paul's words, "burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). We wish we had discovered the biblical truth of our freedom in Christ earlier. Rather than depending on man-made Christian formulas and rules, we rediscovered the ministry of the Holy Spirit to guide us in our homeschooling days and decisions. We began teaching others to let the Holy Spirit be their confidence, and that teaching became this book."

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Summer is a great time as you're having fun with your children rather than feeling the pressures of the typical homeschool year to think a bit about how the upcoming season of homeschooling might be different. Educating the WholeHearted Child is my favorite book on homeschooling ... I may be biased, as of course it was written by Clay and I, and we gathered just about every thought we've had on the topic over our 20-plus year journey! You can buy it here.

What pressures do you feel as a homeschooling mom? In what ways are you tempted to pass those pressures on to your children?

Be sure to let me know any specifics you want me to write about as I could write about ideas and books and creativity for eternity. Let me know what you think.