In a recent GCLI discussion, pastors in Great Commission Churches addressed the topic of educational choices for children. It was discovered that 90% of the pastors in Great Commission have home educated their children, at least during the early years of their education. This is an article by Kathy Darling on her experiences with home schooling. It is clear from this article that Kathy invested her life in her children during those years teaching them in the home. Today, as many of you know, she continues to lay her life down for her children--in particular her daughter who is battling a terrible sickness.
Regardless of the educational option you have chosen, please take the time to learn from Kathy's heart. Her example of fulfilling the noble calling of motherhood is an inspiration to us all.
Grace to you,
To Encourage and Share the Benefits of Homeschooling
By Kathy Darling (The Rock, Minneapolis, MN
I want to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to come and visit with you today. I hoped that something that I could pass on to you ladies would be my reflection on home schooling my children; to tell you a little bit about why I enjoyed home schooling, how it benefited us as a family, how it kept us more connected and focused, and how it helped us keep our first and foremost priority in our lives: the true desire to cultivate our relationship with God.
I'm hoping that some of what I share with you today will help to encourage you and stimulate your thinking. As I look back now on nearly 22 years, I reflect on just how grateful Mark and I were for the opportunity to home school our children, and that the option to do so existed in the 1980's. We chose to embrace this option because we envisioned having the privilege of home schooling our children to be critical to our parenting. We believed doing so would allow us the opportunity to be completely involved in integrating both their basic educational needs with their spiritual character needs, to help fully prepare them for their future. We believed it was also the best way to have their hearts!
Homeschooling was a 2-in-1 thing (they went hand-in-hand) in many ways - because as they began learning their reading and writing skills, much character training also went on around the Darling Homeschool Academy kitchen table as well.
First, I think training them to stay focused by learning to study & concentrate with other noises going on was a key factor. There would be me cooking at times, interruptions with Mark coming and going with his work being within our home, the phone ringing, doorbell ringing, etc. Though we had a fairly set schedule, we still needed to learn to be flexible, yet focused with all these interruptions.
The children not only learned to eventually become independent learners, they also learned to be diligent to finish their assignments, lessons, quizzes (because we required them to), at the same time, learning lessons in behavior (example: being considerate of their siblings by studying together, being patient, kind and cooperative, displaying good manners, having good attitudes, respecting authority, and being good friends). They also had opportunities as they got a little older to learn phone-answering skills, to learn the habit of integrating prayer into our day, and to learn to integrate a quiet time with the Lord along with their home school lessons.
Even in the beginning years, one of the ways we helped them to get spiritually connected with the Lord was teaching them to read their Bibles. Starting with the book of Proverbs (over and over each month by date) and we taught them scripture memory verses on little spiral note cards to help them to hide God's word in their hearts, that eventually the Holy Spirit would bring to their minds when faced with making choices between good and wrong behavior and learning to walk in obedience to God. Then we would reinforce these verses with their every day life and challenges.
"Do all things without grumbling..."
"Do not be afraid, only believe..."
"Say only what is good..."
"Children obey your parents..."
"I would have you learn this great fact...'"
"Direct your children on the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Prov 22:6**
**This verse is a command for us as parents, and we MUST do ALL WE CAN on our part to help see this verse become reality.**
Our children are our #1 disciples. God has given us - and our husbands - full responsibility to raise them up to become lovers of God and lovers of people, and to hopefully be successful contributors to our society and churches. So what we invest in them is a glory to Him!
Another way we benefited in the home schooling arena was that it gave us a more flexible schedule - time for school: (3-4 hours daily) and time for other activities: co-op, extra-curricular activities, eventually jobs, and paper routes. All four children participated in both karate and paper routes. They learned hard work, perseverance and respect for others. Eventually, they were also involved in music and serving in the church ministries.
We had time to reach out to our neighbors as well as serving others in our church (as God would lead), i.e., shoveling snow, baking treats to deliver; teaching our children to be outgoing and developing kindness skills (looking people in their eyes, smiling at them, speaking courteously). People matter to God, so they must matter to us. Also, we made time to fit in daily chores. The flexible schedule allowed us to juggle schedules by taking field trips (planned or unplanned) and taking plenty of moments to have 'hang-time' with family and friends! Church was a big highlight for them!
As a teacher, I especially appreciated all the legwork done for us from the homeschooling curriculum companies that we used over the years. The parent/teacher manuals helped to make my part much easier. TIP: You don't have to follow them to a "T." Don't be rigid. Learn to adjust and change things as necessary.** Be diligent to stay on tract with your teaching, with especially putting your emphasis on spiritually training them (follow through with your commands, loving and firm, be like a "velvet hammer") when given those opportunities throughout your day.
It's critical to be able to personalize your home schooling options available to you (especially from year to year) as God leads you. For us, PSEO options (taking full-time college courses their last two years of high school), worked great for all of our four kids. By God's grace they assimilated just fine when they entered the public school system.
We learned to confidently put our trust in His leading for each individual situation and He was faithful to guide them and bless them and carry them through, as they learned to lean on Him! You'll be amazed to see God's hand at work in and through your own childrens' lives.
I wanted to encourage you moms that you are doing a noble and God honoring task in teaching your children at home and raising them up in the Lord. It takes a lot of love + time + sacrifice + devotion to fully embrace this role. But eventually it reaps many blessings. You will enjoy the fruits of your efforts!
It was such a joy and privilege for me to be able to teach and train my children (one-on-one) at home (being both parent and teacher) and to see them learn and develop their minds and skills academically and their minds, hearts and talents spiritually, watching them grow in the godly behavior, closer in their own relationships to the Lord, helping to nurture them along the way (through my own walk with Christ as an example). Helping them to learn to put to death the deeds of the flesh-they will fail, as we as parents do fail, but we put an emphasis on forgiving and covering over; tolerating one another's opinions and preferences, showing lots of love and affirmation, working hard to keep peace-as well as making daily choices to live and honor God, becoming all that He wants us to be. Oh the joys of seeing their unique personalities begin to develop and their special talents and gifts to be able to be used for God's purposes! And to especially see their love for God develop, and their tender hearts surrender to His will. We were there to see them responding to adversity and accepting by faith their personal life challenges, and to watch them grow in persevering faith as they continue to get older in their walks with Christ. As parents we prayed with them and for them and now have the privilege of serving the Lord together (my husband and I) with them all. Now we have two wonderful new spouses (son-in-law and daughter-in-law) added to our family and a beautiful new grandson!
Again, it's been a priceless experience!