This week, the Christian clan begins our new school year! It seems like we just finished the last one just a few weeks ago. (Well, I guess we did, because we school year-round.) We began our homeschooling journey back in 2003, when Janna was starting 2nd grade, which will make this the beginning of our 9th year of home educating. There have been highs and lows in the journey, but it is one that I would not trade for the world.
A lot of people have asked me why we chose to homeschool our kids after having Janna in school for a couple of years. I guess it is natural to be curious about the switch. At the time, we were serving as campus ministers and the school schedule was getting in the way of our ministry. Because Janna had to go to bed earlier in order to be ready for school the next day and that's when our meetings usually were, Dan found himself alone. In our desire to serve together as a family, we decided that we would try homeschooling as a way to unite our schedules so we could be together.
After we left the campus in 2005 we kept homeschooling, mainly because I have grown to really love it. I sometimes get looks from moms like I'm crazy for wanting to spend that much time with my kids, or maybe even pity that I don't have time for myself. Sometimes I get the "I could never do that" response, which I think is supposed to be complimentary, but I also know that it gives me virtues I do not possess.
I really do think that I am an ordinary mom and neither a crazy mom or supermom. What propels me is the fact that God has given me a charge to raise my children for His glory. Homeschooling is not just about academics but about educating a child. I love the Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of education which says this:
"Education: The bringing up, as of a child, instruction...all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations."
Isn't that a wonderful definition of what true education really is? It's not about political correctness or mere academic mastery of concepts. It's not about being equipped to graduate from high school so you can get into a get college so you can get into a good grad school so you can get a job someday that will pay your bills. It is about the formation of character through the discipline of study. It is about training the mind to think, evaluate and thoughtfully contribute to the world that we live in. It is about equipping our children with a heart for God and for those around them as well as skills so that they can effectively minister wherever the Lord leads them.
I have always grown up thinking that school was all about getting good grades, getting the right answers, trying to guess what would make the teacher happy. Maybe I'm just that kind of girl. But I honestly don't think I really was educated, at least not in Webster's sense. I just made it through the school system.
But I know I want more than that for my kids. It has been an uphill journey to unlearn some of the old attitudes and habits I have had towards education. God has been faithful though. Actually, it has been through homeschooling that I have come to truly love learning and helping others delight in learning.
God has given us minds to use. Romans 12:2 tells us that we need to not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. For us, homeschooling has been one way that we can help our children to renew their minds through the vehicle of their education. I know there are many other ways to do this, but for children who spend so much time in school, this is something that our family has decided to really invest our time in.
This week, I will be sharing how God has been using our different disciplines of study as vehicles of discipleship for our kids. Whether you homeschool or not, I hope that it will help you to begin to see the education of our children as a way to disciple and raise our children for Jesus.
Part 1 of series: The Gift of Education