Home and Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Educational goals

I seem to be spending quite a bit of time lately helping moms talk through the goals they have for their individual children.  They are generally concerned about helping their children receive a “good education” at home.  That begs the question- what is a “good education?”  As someone who endeavors to work within a classical education framework, the most obvious concern would seem to be growth in the core academic subjects.  Is their understanding of history, science, etc. deepening?  Are they seeing connections between the subjects and learning to think?  While these are important, there are so many other ways to develop and expand your mind.  Have we added to our moral understanding?  Is our appreciation of beauty expanding?  There is so much more than the core subjects involved in a “good education!” As the parents of homeschooled parents, we are responsible for so much more than the three Rs.

Academic education is the most obvious training when discussing homeschooling.  Literature, vocabulary and writing, science, math, and history are a great base for academic studies.  Building a solid understanding of these subjects will pay large dividends in the future, but all this is simply the beginning of education.

Character and ethics education helps build character as they grow, and critical thinking plays a large part of that.  If my children leave home having read 100 classics, are able to do calculus, and can write like a professor, but are unable to discern bias or hidden motives in the world around them, I have sent well-educated patsies into the world for someone else to manipulate. They need to know how to think.  Life is full of absolutes, in spite of opinions to the contrary.  We must teach our children what those absolutes are!

As we build minds and characters, we also are building souls.  A study of music, the Masters of the art world, poetry, and religion can give them something to which they can cling when life gets hard.  And life will.  All of these things feed the soul.  It is important to me that my children have amassed an internal repertoire so that when they watch the sunset over the mountains, or sit on a beach as the sun rises, or as a new-born baby is placed in their arms, they have a song in their heart for that moment.  Allowing them the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, paint, draw, or delve into spiritual things can increase what they have to share with the rest of the world.  Giving them a respect for the sacred, and a love of God can anchor them “on the rock” when the storms blow.

Emotional education comes as we teach them to communicate and interpret life’s events with a belief that life is good. Teach them conflict resolution, positive attitudes, and a sense of their inherent worth. Inner strength and the ability to respond appropriately to the unexpected comes as they see these traits modeled, and are encouraged and reassured as they work to refine their own emotional maturity.  Being “well-educated” is not generally helpful if you can’t handle what life throws your way!

No parent will teach all these things perfectly. However, we must do our best, and then remember their education will continue as they move through life.  We are simply building foundations.

Home and Family, Homeschooling

Celebrate Holy Week!

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  Holy Week has begun.  As we teach our children about the three R’s, we ought to make room for the events surrounding Easter as well!  Some ideas to do this include:

Each day this week, read a New Testament story about the Savior.  Discuss the miracles, the compassion, and the teachings of the Master. You can do this before the beginning of your school day, in the evening before bed, or around the dinner table.  If you have pictures of the stories you discuss, post them.  Place quotes from Christ around your house; memorize one or two.  Attend church as a family.  Teach the symbols of Easter.  Find ways to incorporate Easter themes and vocabulary into your studies.  Spelling/vocabulary words, historical readings, pictures and art study, music, and so much more can be incorporated into each day’s work.  (Just remember to keep it age-appropriate.  Do not discuss the specifics of crucifixion with young children.  Those details can be saved for when they are teens.)

Small children love to learn of Him.  For the young ones, focus on the easiest understood lessons- the Beautitudes and Lord’s Prayer from Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), the story of Nicodemus (John 3: 1-10), the calling of the 12 Apostles (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20), the importance of children (Matthew 18:1-6, 19:13-14), Christ walking on water (my favorite version- Matthew 14:22-33,  and the Easter story at the close of each of the Gospels.  Read from the Bible.  Find storybooks that retell events of His life.  Have an egg hunt.

As your children get older, read each of the four Gospels together.  Discuss His teachings, His example, His love, and His centrality in our lives.  Delve a bit more into the multitude of lessons in the parables, the stories of His life, death and resurrection, and the importance of learning who He is.

Some of the symbols of Easter are familiar; others are less commonly known.

the Palm Tree: represents the palm branches lain on Palm Sunday as Jesus entered Jerusalem.

the Cross: signifies the Crucifixion of Christ, and universality of His love.

the Tomb: the symbol of the Resurrection of Christ.  It portrays the true meaning of Easter, and the reason for our Joy in Him.

the Ass: recalls the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.

Robin:  legend tells us the robin plucked a thorn from the forehead of Christ, staining his breast red.  To this day, all robins have red breasts.

Egg: the emerging of the chick symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ.

the Whale:  the story of Jonah and the whale in the Old Testament is a type, or symbol, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

In all of the teaching we do in our homes, the religious teaching is the most important.  Of all the religious teaching we do, the most important is this: He lives!  And because He lives, we will live again!