Every year I have an opportunity to address the parents of our school with a talk about parenting and co-teaching in our University-model school. Burdened to dispel any misconceptions that might hinder a parent from being the most effective co-teaching parent in the home, I formed my talk around 3 possible misconceptions and 3 qualities that will help a parent thrive in the homeschooling environment. This was not a how-to session as much as an indicative-informing-the-imperative overview. I share parts of it here, as I trust that you will be encouraged as a parent or a homeschooler...and as the primary influence in your child's life.
What The Ideal Parent IS NOT....
1. The ideal homeschooling parent is not necessarily gifted at homeschooling or a natural at teaching.
One of the big misconceptions in education may be that those who choose to educate their kids at home are either naturally good at it, have more patience than other parents, or have extra time on their hands. This is simply not true. Those of us who choose to take a deliberate role in the education of our children do so out of conviction, not convenience. Do not buy into the lie that you are not equipped to be your child's teacher. Or the thought that you don't have the right disposition for it. You are qualified to be your child's teacher, simply because God has entrusted you to be his/her parent. There is no one more fit to train, discipline, disciple, mold, love, encourage, correct, model, and inspire...than you, the parent. And as for disposition? Educating your child may be the very vehicle through which God chooses to mold YOU into the parent he desires you to be. See it through this lens, and your school year will be very different than what it would be otherwise.
2. The ideal homeschooling parent is not always seen with well-behaved children.
You may have heard it said that indicatives always inform the imperatives, which is to say, our beliefs reflect our methods. If we believe that our greatest goal is to have well-behaved children, we will use any means of shame, scolding, punishment, or threatening to achieve our goal. We may achieve our goal...but lose their hearts. Instead, if we recognize that a child acts and speaks out of the overflow of his heart as it says in Luke 6, we will use God’s word to instruct and correct the hearts of our children, continually drawing them to the greatest need in their lives. Teaching our children MUST include correction and discipline. It is never simply academic. However, when it is the heart we are after, then teaching our children at home becomes the perfect opportunity for such a privileged pursuit.
What we believe about what they ultimately need will determine how we go about parenting. So, fret not if your child is a work in progress. He should be! As should you and I! Let’s not seek to present simply well-behaved children, but apply ourselves to the work of leading our children’s hearts to the throne of God.
3. The ideal homeschooling parent does not need to be educated in theology.
Most of us were raised in a generation and culture that saw the local church as the primary means of teaching our children spiritual truths. Many of us grew up in families that never worshiped together unless at church, and by worship, I mean getting to church, and splitting up to into all separate departments. As with the first misconception, we must recognize that we are, as parents, absolutely qualified to teach our children the Word of God. In fact, we are commanded to in Deuteronomy 4:6...
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
All our pursuits in educating our children are in vain if we fail to lead them to the worthiest subject of study: The Lord himself. Catechism questions, assignments that wrestle with attributes of God, and the like, should inspire you to dig deeper into the Word of God with your children. Sometimes, those will be the absolute most precious moments of your homeschooling day. A theology degree is not necessary to teach your children the truth of God's Word; an obedient trust in its authority IS!
Join me tomorrow for Part 2, as I counter these three misconceptions with three qualities that will help a parent THRIVE and not just SURVIVE teaching and training her children at home!
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