The number of families choosing to homeschool is on the rise and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. Each year, a growing number of parents and children are discovering the unique opportunities and challenges found in homeschooling. To get the most out of this life-changing scholastic approach, it’s important to check your foundation. A homeschool with Christ at the center is a homeschool set up for success. So, is this the year God’s Word takes center stage in your weekly schedule? Is this the year you discover how family devotions can transform your homeschooling?
How Family Devotions Can Transform Your Homeschooling
The Teaching Parent
Regardless of your view on whether or not to homeschool, the Bible makes it clear that every parent should teach. Imparting the truth of Scripture to our children is a key responsibility God has entrusted to all parents. Read these powerful verses to parents from Deuteronomy 8.
18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
– Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV)
The context of this passage is Moses teaching the importance of following the Lord’s commands. In the midst of this great sermon, Moses addresses parents. Parents, he says, are not only supposed to know God’s Word, but also show God’s Word. At home? Talk about the Lord. On a field trip? Talk about the Lord. At Breakfast? Talk about the Lord. At bedtime… you get the idea.
For kids, this ongoing and living example of faith is critical – truth is caught more than it is taught. When our children see a living faith in us, it is transformational in them. So, what place has God’s Word taken in your weekly homeschool routine? Have you considered building a structured time into your schedule where you and your child can discuss what the Bible says and how it applies to life.
The development of a child involves far more than just learning facts and figures. Equally important (if not more) is the development of a child’s character. Smart and wise are not the same thing. While education is often thought of as the acquisition of information, wisdom is the ability to use information appropriately.
A consistent reason many parents choose to homeschool is a desire to see their children educated in an environment where character matters. More important than what our children learn is who our children become. Do they value what’s important? Do they have a proper understanding of authority, respect, honor and virtue? Do they make the right choices even in difficult circumstances?
The ultimate goal of the Christian is to become Christ-like – To take on the character of our Savior. Ephesians 4:15 (ESV) teaches: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Part of schooling is our children growing up into the image of Jesus.
Through the weekly study of God’s Word, the homeschooling parent provides an indispensable catalyst for true character development. Our children need to grow up. Our children need to become like Jesus. Our children need to be spending time with us in God’s Word.
Location. Location. Location.
Kids are a product of their learning environment. This is one of the reasons why parents of bullied children often choose homeschool. It is difficult for anyone, a child included, to thrive where injustice is ignored. And for bullied children, the shadow of cruel peers and indifferent faculty can quickly cloud their ability to learn.
But, a change in location only is not the solution. While a change of space may temporarily remove our kids from a bad environment, the day will come when they will face difficult circumstances once again. Homeschooling parents need to both create a healthy learning environment and explain why this environment is founded in the truth of God’s Word.
- We treat others the way we wish to be treated – Luke 6:31
- We don’t retaliate or get even when we are treated poorly – Romans 12:17
- We respect those who are in authority – 1 Peter 2:13
- We help those who are in need – Luke 10:25-37 (The Good Samaritan)
The Word of God is the central force that should shape our homeschooling environment. One of the best ways to encourage this is a consistent, weekly time spent discussing Scripture with our children.
Relationship vs Socialization
One of the more common objections to homeschooling is that the homeschooled child will suffer from a lack of socialization. In essence, that without a classroom full of peers, homeschooled children will not learn how to effectively socialize with kids their own age. But being good around people and being a good friend are not the same thing. And forming healthy relationships with others always starts with having a healthy relationship with God.
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked (of all 613) which was the most important Old Testament commandment. He responded by saying:
37 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
The order of Jesus’ response is important. First, the most important thing in life is to have a loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Second, from that relationship, we can then develop loving relationships with each other. First love God, then you can love others. This is why leaving God out of the classroom will always have a negative impact on peer-to-peer relationships.
Our children must learn how to treat others well. They will not learn this from their peers, from a textbook, or from a syllabus. This can only be learned by encountering God in his Word. Have we made time in our weekly homeschool schedule for this relational development to occur?
Teaching that Changes Lives
There are many reasons, as parents, we put a premium on our child’s education:
- Employment – Education and earnings go hand-in-hand.
- Leadership – Readers lead and leaders read.
- Opportunity – Knowledge opens the doors of possibility.
But for all of its benefits, education does not make us a better person. In fact, if the acquisition of knowledge becomes a sole pursuit, this can often lead to intellectual pride. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 8:1 “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”
In other words, people who think they know everything become arrogant. But people who have been educated in love build up family, friends and peers. As we spend time in God’s Word, we realize that Jesus is the center of life, not us. We come face-to-face with our own shortcomings and the glorious perfection of God. We learn to value humility and to exalt Christ.
Learning is important. But nothing is more important than knowing God. As our kids experience the love of God, they are transformed. They become young men and women, who through the love of God, build up the world around them. They become the people that we as parents have always dreamed they would become.
Stay on Target
If you have taken up the homeschooling torch, it is important to consider how you will define success. There are many reasons parents make the choice to homeschool:
- Time management
- Seeing our children excel
- Spending the best hours of the day with our kids
- The flexibility for creativity and new interests
- Being in charge of our own schedules
But what is the goal? In survey after survey, the #1 reason parents choose to homeschool is for religious reasons. We know that the most important thing we can pass on to our children is our faith in Christ. There is no close second.
So what is your strategy? If we haven’t determined where we are going, we will never get there. If passing on a living faith to our children is our homeschooling priority, there is no substitute for spending time in God’s Word with them. Family devotions, a time devoted to God’s Word with you and your kids, is an indispensable tool for parents to achieve their homeschooling goals.
Direction not Perfection
One reason that time studying God’s Word often gets left by the wayside is that parents often feel unequipped for the task. Other than Sunday mornings, many parents have had no further Biblical training. And because the Word of God is so important, parents can relegate themselves to the sidelines, paralyzed by a fear of messing up the Bible.
But God does not ask homeschool parents to be perfect teachers of His Word. He only asks them to be teachers. There is an interesting account in 1 Kings 3 where God tells the newly crowned Solomon: “if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” What makes this statement so interesting is that David made a mess of God’s decrees and commands (The events of Bathsheba and Uriah topping the list).
David failed multiple times; he was not perfect. But in spite of his failures, the direction of his life always moved toward God. In life, what matters most is direction, not perfection. If you endeavor to make the Word of God a larger part of your homeschooling day you will have moments of frustration and failure. But if you keep at it, you will look back over the year and marvel at how far God brought you and your child by maintaining a consistent direction.
Remember, no plan is perfect, but that’s no excuse not to try.
A Great Place to Start
Sharefaith Kids is the #1 resource for kids Bible lessons and videos. Our resources are designed to engage children of this digital generation while providing classroom ready content for parents and teachers. Our 85+ lessons all come with award-winning lesson videos, teaching slideshows, a host of printable activities and Bible-centered curriculum.
There are several ways homeschool parents can utilize these resources:
1. Semi-Weekly Devotions: What better way for you and your child to start and end your week than with time together in the Word of God. Our 85+ content-rich lessons provide an excellent resource for Monday and Friday devotions. Bookend your homeschooling week with time spent in Scripture!
2. The Story of God: If you are looking for a more concentrated time in God’s Word you can incorporate the bulk of Sharefaith Kids lessons into a daily, 16 week teaching unit. Over this four-month span, you and your children will learn the big story of God through dynamic videos, digital teaching resources and a host of interactive print activities.
3. Free Trial: We are passionate about teachers and parents having the resources they need to grow their children in the Christian faith. So, as a free gift to you, we have made 3 full Sharefaith Kids lessons available for you to try out with your children today!
If you would like to explore the amazing world of Sharefaith Kids, feel free to search our library! Or if you would like to talk to one of our product specialists, please give us a call at 1-888-317-4018. We’d love to talk with you!