Special help for Homeschool parents
Homeschool Christian Education Plan
Christian parents homeschooling their children have two advantages over those in Non-Christian schools. 1) They can instruct their children directly in Christian truth from God's Word. 2) They don't have to undo each day’s classroom teaching that is counter to Biblical truth. The Bible teaches that parents of faith, are to instruct their children daily in God's Word. This instruction is a continuous process, not just one quick lesson. In this article, I'll give you the plan to teach your children and inoculate them from the attacks that will come when they leave home.
In the 21st century, we are all rushed. Each morning we arise with more things to do today than we can do, so some things don't get done. Recognizing this, we must decide which tasks get the highest priority. Every day these decisions impact how effectively you educate our children. It’s not a matter of running out of time. It’s not about I can’t. It’s I will or I won’t. Understanding this is a choice will transform what you do and when you do it. It’s always priorities and nothing else. In the 21st century, TIME MANAGEMENT is the most critical skill to develop. Every other resource: money, assets, information, etc. you can change. Get another job. Buy more stuff. Get a faster computer. But everyone only gets 24 hours every day. You can’t change that so how you use your time is the most critical decision you make all day, every day therefore, give education the highest priority in your daily routine. Don't make it "leftover;” make it a “must do!”
Christian instruction begins with catechizing in the first two aspects of a child’s development. I use the Westminster Standards: the Shorter, and Larger Catechisms, and the Confession. The Bible contains all we need to know about: man, God, and salvation but it is written as a historical account, so doctrines are in many places in the different books. If you want to study a particular topic, the Westminster documents provide a systematic presentation of the truth of Scripture.
Grammar, Ages 3-10. Start with the Shorter Catechism and memorize the questions and answers. Do it in sequence starting from the beginning. Acquaint them with the Bible with daily readings of Scriptures cited. Somewhere between ages 8 -10 they will be able to repeat the whole thing from memory. Remember we are trying to get the information in their minds but not necessarily with a lot of understanding. Their reasoning and analytical skill are still not highly developed so rote memory is the goal. Understanding will come as they grow and although they don’t fully understand, it provides building blocks for learning and thinking. If they ask questions, answer them but don't dwell on too much information. As they advance in maturity, they will ask more profound and complex questions.
Dialectic Ages 11-14. As the questions and challenges get stronger and stronger, we move into the Dialectic stage. They are now asking: “Why?” Advance to the Westminster Larger Catechism. Now, they are not memorizing but challenging the catechism’s questions and answers. Use the Confession with Scriptural proofs as a reference source. Read a question and answer and go to the Scriptures to read them. This will result in going on a lot of tangents. That's OK. We are now going beyond rote content to encourage intellectual understanding and consent. Don't let hard questions or diversions stump you. From the Bible and other study aids, you can find reasonable answers on the Internet to many questions. There will be some areas where the question itself is not answerable or knowable by our limited human abilities. "How is God present everywhere, yet on the throne in heaven at the same time?" Confess even if you don't know everything and explain the limitations of human knowledge. Refer to my book: ANSWERS For: “The Hope That Is In You!”
Somewhere between 14 and 16, they express begin to themselves in more and more ways: questions, doubts, challenges, etc. As they form and express their own beliefs, we change our strategy to the Rhetoric stage. We've gone from rote memory (Grammar) to reasoning and understanding (Dialectic), and now we go to Rhetoric to develop an intellectual defense of the faith.
Rhetoric Ages 15-18. As they get to the high school years, there will be less and less time so you must target your goals narrowly. They must be prepared to defend their faith from many different attacks. Use an assortment of resources on Christian Apologetics including my books available on http://sixdaycreation.com. The most important thing you do is encourage them to ask questions about the faith. ANSWER them all!!
At 18-19 the preparation for your child’s life outside the covenant family is complete. If you’ve done these things well, they will leave prepared to defend their faith, but there is no guarantee they will believe. That's God's domain so pray He would give them, "ears to hear." There is one more responsibility that begins at their birth and doesn't end until one of you enters eternity. That's living the reality of being "in Christ."
Living the Reality.
Here are two excuses I heard from children that left the faith.
1) "My parents claimed to be Christians. I know they are sinners, but I never saw them acknowledge it in their lives. They never showed remorse for any sin, confess that sin or repent of it. They loved to argue and call each other names and sometimes wouldn't talk for days. They'd eventually get over it, but I never saw them apologize or even express sorrow for their behavior. When I sinned, they would call me on it and punish me and tell me not to do it again. My father once said to me. "Don't do what I do, do what I say." If that's what it's like to be a Christian I want no part of Christ.”
2) "During my childhood our family was indigent, and we had many times when we had little to eat. My dad would spend half his paycheck at the tavern on Friday night before he came home. We all went to church as a family every Sunday. They talked a lot about faith at church, but at home, the subject never came up. At one particular time, when I was ten, the money crisis was particularly severe. My mom suggested at the dinner table, after a meager meal of gravy bread, that we pray for God's help. I remember, like yesterday my dad laughed and said, ‘God can’t help us we have to help ourselves.’ I thought; If God can’t help us then what’s the point of being a Christian?”
I recognize these two cases are extreme, but your children are watching everything you do. They see the impact or non-impact of Christ in your life every day. If the faith is not real to you, it won't be real to them.
One Innovative Process
A great idea I got from one of my mentors was his daily review of TV newscasts with his children. In the early evening, his children would do homework, and he would watch and videotape the news of the day. He would pick out several stories to replay. The four children, then ages 12 to 16, would come down for the family worship each night at about 7:00. They would spend about 20 minutes reading Scripture and praying. Then he would play one or two of the stories from the tape and ask each child what Gods Word said about the content of the report. This interaction with current news was a great learning time both because of his instruction and also the peer-to-peer communication between the four children. He often created contention by asking "loaded" questions to get them to think about real spiritual issues. Like: “Is it OK to steal bread if you are starving?” Several of the children were doing a summer project reading “LesMisérables," so this question resulted in six days of evening discussions! He shared one particular video news case about a home invasion where the homeowner shot and killed the intruder. They got into a lively discussion that lasted more than 2 hours. The question they debated became: “When and if is it justifiable to take another person's life." Years later the then 12-year-old would tell his father that story was a life-changing discussion because he realized for the first time how precious God views every human life.
Use your advantage of Homeschooling to instruct your children in the Christian Faith. It’s an eternal work. The content of this article was extracted from my book: “My Children’s Christian Education, What Should I Do? A Christian Educator’s Analysis & Advice”