When Ray and I made the decision to homeschool our children, we thought we were just . . . homeschooling, but God had other plans for us. When a woman wants to make a quilt, she uses a sewing machine as a tool. When a man wants to build a bookshelf, he uses a drill as a tool. When God wanted to teach our family how to live, He used homeschooling as a tool.
Our first day of homeschooling looked very much like school at home. We arranged separate desk space for each child. I even put up a bulletin board and had a flag ready for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Slowly, slowly we learned:
• how to let go of the traditional kind of schooling that was based on the way educators had been thinking for the last couple hundred years
• how to rest (and work hard) in the way God instructed parents to train their children
• how to embrace the way God had created our own children
Slowly, slowly we learned to quit doing school and start training our children in our own home. Along the way, we began to look at many aspects of our lives differently.
We didn’t want our children to “go to school.” Instead we wanted each child to learn how to live every area of his or her life, such as in relationships with God and people, in a chosen occupation, and in how to relate to the next generation, etc.
God used the tool of homeschooling to help Ray and me decide that we didn’t want our children to do some other things either.
We didn’t want our children to “go to church.” Instead we wanted them to be devoted to the Lord while being a working part of the body of Christ.
We didn’t want our children to “get a job.” Instead we wanted them to work with willing hands to provide for their own families and for those in need.
We didn’t want our children to “own a home.” Instead we wanted them to build Christian homes and pass on faith to the next generations.
The emphasis, of course, is on the why. I believe that church is absolutely essential in the life of a follower of Jesus. I believe that every Christian is responsible for providing a home and income for his family. However:
• Going to church doesn’t necessarily make someone a devoted follower of Jesus.
• Getting a job doesn’t guarantee that someone is able to provide for his family and help others.
• Owning a home doesn’t necessarily mean that a family is growing in Christ.
Training children in the why of church and employment and home — the importance of those areas of life are some of the lessons God wanted us to learn while we were homeschooling.
As I said, when we started homeschooling we thought we were just … homeschooling, but we were learning how to live — not anywhere close to perfectly, of course (not by a long shot), but learning — and for those lessons we are literally eternally grateful.
I love the way the translators of the King James Bible translated this verse. It sums up the purpose of homeschooling beautifully.
And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,