This week’s blog is written by the owner of Cornerstone Curriculum, David & Shirley Quine, who is one of our Keys to Homeschooling & Curriculum Fair sponsors. We are grateful for their continued sponsorship and support of CHEA events. © 2021 Cornerstone Curriculum. Printed with permission of the authors.
Many parents are struggling to find the right combination — the right ingredients — for having success in their home school. There are many voices out there. Which voice is the right one? Is there even a right voice? We believe there is.
Education is so much more than transferring information from one generation to the next. Charlotte Mason correctly understood that we must “look on education as something between the child’s soul and God. Modern Education tends to look at it as something between the child’s brain and the standardized test.” Because we live in the “information age,” twenty-first century educators have reduced school to the memorizing of more and more “facts.” But as Christian home educators we see education as embracing knowledge (Philippians 1:9-11), understanding (Ephesians 4:14-15), and wisdom (Philippians 2:15-16).
King David discovered the essence of wisdom. He wrote:
“I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers [because of Your word], For Your testimonies are my meditation.” (Psalm 119:99, AMP)
His son, King Solomon, the wisest man to have ever lived, expressed it this way:
“Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.” (Proverbs 9:9-11)
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian Christians, made a clear distinction between people who do not fear the Lord and those who do. The unbelieving person is incapable of understanding certain things. In fact, this person would conclude certain ideas are foolish, illogical, and absurd. However, the one who believes — who fears the LORD — is able to question, judge, examine, and apply Biblical wisdom to every situation (I Corinthians 2:14-16).
Ingredient 1: Love of God and Thirst for Truth
The first, and primary ingredient of a successful home school, is a love of God and a thirst for Truth. As we live this out before our children, they begin to see how God’s Word applies to all of life.
True education is much more than acquiring skills of operations. It is rather a fine art. Therefore, it will require more thought and time to develop. Think of education as blazing a pathway through the wilderness, much as the early pioneers did. First there is just one narrow path. Along it we are introducing an area of life. Later the path will widen and lead to skills like reading, math, or any area of life. But we begin by implanting the joy of the subject. By snuggling together with our children and reading lovely books that are a delight to the ears and eyes of younger children, their hearts and minds are drawn and prepared to have the desire to read for themselves. As children grow, the adventures get longer and more involved. Then when letter sounds and the reading process begins, the desire is already present to make this skill their own!
In preparation for learning math skills, give real life situations around your home. Together as the two of you straighten up the bookshelves in their room, have your child sequence the books from shortest to tallest. This is a simple way to establish the groundwork for less than, greater than, and equal. This makes math alive. It is no longer two dimensional. When math lessons begin with strange symbols and unknown formulas, children may be overwhelmed and confused — just the opposite of what we want to happen.
We wanted our children to fall in love with classical music. Should we begin by setting them on a piano bench for hours teaching them to play the scales? There might be a time and a place for it, but that won’t create a love for it. If possible, take your family to an outdoor summer concert. Try to sit close enough to see the musicians and their instruments. Later, ask your children to tell you which instruments they liked. Take them to meet the musician who plays that instrument. Or if you have friends who play an instrument, ask if they could play for your children and show them the instrument. In this way, you are imparting a deep appreciation which may, someday, blossom into a skilled musician.
We have the opportunity to set a “feast of ideas” before our children. Just as the aroma of a good meal draws our children to the table, some ideas will draw our children’s hearts to a specific subject. Provide time — a lot of time — for those special subjects your children are drawn toward. When a child has free time, he or she will gravitate toward their love!
True education will soon be traveling on two paths — the love of the subject and the skill to perform it.
Ingredient 2: Love of Learning
The second ingredient of a successful home school is creating a love of learning. A student’s love and appreciation should be well in advance of his skill. The skill of learning should always follow the love of learning. Creating a love for learning starts with us developing that love.
Home education is trending more and more toward rigorous academics. This emphasis is affecting children at younger and younger ages. Time to play has been pushed to the side. The important time needed to “think things through” has shrunk. Time to be together, to build your relationships has been replaced by academics. A common complaint is that “there is just not enough time in the day!” But Truth is not simply academic.
Have you noticed that Truth set out in God’s Word is rarely academic? God uses people, in the mix of their inter-personal relationship, to communicate Truth. In fact, God told Moses to explain to parents the key role we play in passing on Truth to our children and grandchildren: “the Lord your God has commanded me [Moses] to teach you [parents]” (Deuteronomy 6:1). The sequence was from God to Moses, from Moses to parents, from parents to children, and then to grandchildren.
This is similar to a relay race. There is great excitement as one runner passes the baton to the next. Each runner plays such an important role in the race. The baton must not be dropped. Education is like a relay race. It is about passing the baton of Truth from one generation to the next. And each person is so important. The next generation depends upon a clean crisp handoff of Truth.
What was the priority? “… that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life” (Deuteronomy 6:2). Remember, our love of God is the first essential ingredient.
God in His grace has even designed a teaching method for us. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.” It first begins with us.
Then “You shall teach them diligently to your sons…” The Word of God and its application are to be taught carefully — impressing Truth on our children’s minds so that it penetrates deep into their hearts.
This is to take place “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up… When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ then you shall say …” (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, 20-21).
While traditional school sets aside 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for learning, God explains that true education begins when we awake and ends when we go to sleep; that it occurs in all situations and circumstances; that it is both informal and formal; and that it is conversational — filled with questions and answers. In other words, God has set out an educational plan which is rich and full of life!
Ingredient 3: A Love For and Commitment to Teaching
Teaching is to be lived out within the interpersonal relationships of our family — parents to children and then to grandchildren. God has established the family as the starting point for integrating Truth and relationships. The third ingredient necessary for creating a successful home school is having a love for and commitment to teaching our children.
When these three ingredients — the love of God and a thirst for Truth, a love of learning, and a love for and commitment to teaching our children — are combined, being constantly enveloped in prayer, we can know that God is well pleased. Successful homeschooling then, is mixing these three ingredients in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and leaving the final results to God. When God builds the house, we will not be laboring in vain.