The Three R's

Okay, so I'm not doing very well getting back to blogging. It seems like for the past two weeks, life has been a whirlwind and I haven't been able to get back into stride. Have you ever felt that way? So my apologies! Anyways, back to the topic at hand for the week. Yesterday, I started a series on how school can be a vehicle for the discipleship of our kids. Personally, I liked school, but I know there are some kids who think of it as a necessary evil. Maybe you have one of those in your house.

As a homeschooling mom, I have to admit that I also get the groans of "Do I have to do that?" or the sighs and complaints when I announce that school is going to start up again. But I am also learning that much of their attitude is mine too. If I have a bad attitude about school or only see it as something that I have to do, then they're going to think the same way.

Over the past few years, the Lord has had to re-train my perspective on education and like I mentioned yesterday, look at it as discipleship and not as an institution. Education is the shaping of lives and preparing my kids to take their place in the world. School is one of those tools that God has provided to do that work. How so?

For example, when we think about the "3 R's" (reading, "riting" and "'rithmetic"), we often think of Dick and Jane readers, lined paper and multiplication tables. Yes, these are used in teaching these subjects, but have you considered why these three staple subjects are so important?

For me, I have learned to see that reading is a very important skill because when a child knows how to read and comprehend, we are equipping to read the greatest Book of all, the Bible. For centuries in the Dark Ages, many people in the Church were subject to corrupt teaching because they could not read. They had no recourse and had to trust the word of the church leaders.

Today, we cannot even imagine this. But it is still true today. I am saddened when we used to talk with college students who didn't want to read after they got out of school. Reading, especially God's Word, keeps our minds from being fooled and deceived by the other trash that's out there. When we teach our kids to read well, we are equipping them so that they are able to keep feeding themselves with the truth of God's Word in the future. When they love to read, they can also find mentoring and help from others. They can also thoughtfully engage in the conversation going on around them when they are well read. When our children are thoughtful readers, they can contribute to the understanding of others and enrich others as well.

How about writing? Personally, I grew up not enjoying English or writing at all. It wasn't until after I got out of school that I began to enjoy it. But I am realizing what a powerful vehicle writing can be. I know that I personally have benefitted so much from a well-written piece. I also know what poor writing can do. Even if the writer is a genius---if there is mispellings, poor punctuation or just unclear writing---I am apt to have a negative opinion.

Not that I'm all that great as a writer myself, but I don't want my children to be perceived that way. I want them to write well, to be able to be a voice that speaks for the Lord. That is why I train them in spelling, grammar, and all the arts of writing. I want them to be able to speak up as the Lord leads them and have the confidence to do so in writing.

And math? I enjoyed the patterns and the straightforwardness of math. 1+1 always equaled 2. I like that. Even if there are multiple ways to solve the problem there is usually only one right answer. As I teach my kids math though, it is not just about getting the right answer. I am realizing that math becomes a tool to problem solve. When my kids learn how to be comfortable with numbers, I am giving them a tool that helps them to navigate through life. I didn't realize how much I used math until I started teaching it to my kids. We needed it to cook, shop, balance a checkbook, measure if furniture would fit and so much more. Telling time, playing music and scoring board games all required math. There is so much more to it that completing problem sets!

When I learn to teach my children the purpose of a subject, the use of it, I think that it also increases our willingness, if not enjoyment, in the process. What has helped my kids in their schooling is knowing why we are studying a subject. I'll continue this topic in the next couple of posts as we look at history, geography, science and the fine arts. Even if you don't homeschool your kids, I hope that this will help you to help them see their homework assignments in a new light. It begins with us!

Part 2 of series: The Gift of Education