There are countless methods, styles, and curricula for successfully teaching our children at home. I could share the differing views, along with the benefits of various approaches, but as I am prone to do, you might begin to question your own program or feel compelled to try a new one before you’re ready.
So…..I decided to choose the reverse angle. Rather than share the “how-to’s” on home education, I’ll share some “how not to’s” from my 29 years of homeschooling my kids. Use them to re-evaluate what you’re doing before you change course.
What Not To Do In Your Home School
– Don’t treat your children like students (remember, you’re their momma first!) but do teach them how to love being a student in God’s classroom. Teach them to love learning — and that begins when they’re small learning all they can about God’s creation and His world.
– Don’t turn your home into a school — just learn at home! Your children don’t have to have their own desk and be seated properly, with all their subjects and classes strictly laid out in perfect order. If that’s your style, great. But feel free to order your day by what works for you. Be creative, and enjoy learning with your kids!
– Don’t make your school day so relaxed and flexible that you never really get to the good stuff. Find a balance between structure and freedom that allows plenty of time to learn, along with generous amounts of time to experience and grow your children’s interests or “bents”.
– Don’t teach your children that straight A’s are the goal. Teach your children to see their individual talents as gifts from God, using them wisely and creatively. Make trusting in and knowing Jesus as Lord the goal.
– Don’t try too hard – you’ll make everyone, especially yourself, miserable. Take a step back and relax a bit. Look for the joy in it all. Learning can be quite fun — if you let it!
– Learn from your mistakes and move on. Learn to laugh at failures. You’ll never be perfect, so teach your children how to enjoy the ride. Now that’s one I need to memorize!
– Don’t believe the lie that just because you use this curriculum, or teach that subject, or have a perfectly ordered day, you’ll turn out a perfect child. Nothing but God can do that! We need to remember, “There’s no patent on perfect!” Pray, ponder your ways, and ask God to show you what each child needs to conform to God’s will (no, not your will!). 😉
– Don’t pattern your ideas of education and success after the world. Seek Scripture to find what God sees as important in the development of a person. Trust your own gut sense. Let each child develop and grow in their individual bent, their personal talents, and interests. Sure, they need to learn the stuff they don’t love — we all do. But leaning into what interests them gives them something to look forward to after the more difficult lessons. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they succeed in activities geared towards their interests. Don’t forget, those inclinations were given by God!
– Don’t believe the only avenue to career or financial success is through one mode of education. This goes for all ages, but I’m speaking here about needing a college degree. Believe it or not, only one of our ten children has gone to college, and yet, our adult children are each educated and qualified in the particular field they’re working, and they make good incomes. Of course, if their field of interest required a college education (law, medicine, etc.) we certainly wouldn’t oppose it. The experience and education gained from internships (learning from a master in the field) is similar to the historical style of apprenticeship. It’s less time consuming than college and more specific to the needed knowledge and skills in a field of interest. Many world-changers throughout history were taught using apprenticeship or personal intense study.
I hope these ideas for “how not to homeschool” will help you decide which work for your family. Can you find a few which might hurt the goals you have for your kids? God made an opportunity-rich environment in our amazingly vast world. Use it for all you can — and your kids will be the better for it!
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8