How should I 'school' my Child?
Private school. Christian school. Homeschool. Unschooled. Public school. Vocational school. Remote Learning. The means by which we may ‘educate’ our children is quite diverse. There are committed proponents for each approach, each having anecdotal, statistical and emotional arguments used to support their position.
Perhaps many readers will now be skipping to the end of this article to see if in bold letters I advocate one approach over another. Sorry to disappoint but I have chosen not to take that overt of an approach. I think the best thing to do is to ‘back up the car’, so to speak, and to ask a few crucial questions. Perhaps asking certain questions will assist us in arriving at a conclusion that is God pleasing. Please consider the following:
• When you think of ‘training your child’ do you primarily think of academics?
• What is the safest environment for your child to learn in?
• Who cares the most for your child?
• How old is your child?
• What is the spiritual maturity of your child or your child’s peer group?
• Who is the best suited to teach your child?
• Who, from a Biblical perspective, is instructed to teach your child?
• Can your child’s gifting(s) be consistently well met via one approach over another?
To be honest, until my wife and I had children, I gave little time of day to consider the preceding questions. This is pretty typical for many couples, I imagine. But as our children ‘arrived’ my wife and I slowly spent more time pondering these issues. We began paying attention to the choices that other parents, especially those a little older than ourselves, had made. We noticed a broad spectrum of child-training approaches amongst believers at large. We also began to notice that the chosen approaches yielded varying degrees of ‘attractive fruit’ in the lives of the children.
Let’s be honest. Society places high priority upon a secular education and the pursuit of a career while almost completely disregarding the need for a spiritual foundation to be demonstrated to our children. Yet there is one crucial training that all fathers are instructed to accomplish in the lives of their children. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Whether we realize it or not, we parents are the first teachers of our children. It is a God-delegated responsibility. When we have a low view of this calling it will seem only to be a burden. Perhaps we would even prefer to excuse ourselves from fulfilling this calling. However, when we begin to grasp the eternal vision and worth that God has placed upon the family we may find ourselves amazed and humbled that He would invite us into such a grand plan! So, how are we doing? If we are not pointing our children to the Lord then we are failing in our fundamental responsibilities as a father. It is true that we cannot cause our children to follow the Lord; it is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless we are to be the primary life guides and spiritual instructors of our young sons and daughters. Education, as our culture currently defines it, must not take the preeminent position in the training of our children and we certainly shouldn’t embrace a system of learning that contradicts what the Lord’s heart is for our child.
Let’s be clear. Training our children for the Lord does not merely mean loading them up with Bible verses to memorize or teaching them Sunday school songs to sing before bedtime. Rather it is a day-to-day demonstration of our obedience to the Lord as we pursue more of Him in our lives. Are we regularly feeding on the Lord for our strength and joy? Do we realize that our children are watching how we treat their mother? Our children also hear us as we remark about fellow believers in the church. Do we bad-mouth our boss to our children? Are we living a life that demonstrates the Lord’s humility and shows that His Kingdom is priority one in our lives? These things are ‘caught’ by our children and are ‘taught’ via life lived out together as a family. It is not simply acquired from textbooks or formal classroom settings.
If we choose to present a system of education to our children that negates or belittles the role of a Godly father (and mother) we need to reconsider our choice. We must not view ‘education’ as something separate from spiritual training. All that we do to facilitate the spiritual, intellectual, and academic growth of our child must be brought under the umbrella of that which properly builds the Kingdom of God.
Finally, I would be dishonest to suggest that I meet this high calling every day. I have failed many times. I have had to ask my wife and children for their forgiveness on more occasions than I care to recall. Praise the Lord, they have been gracious in their responses to me. We also have a very merciful heavenly Father who daily offers us His grace and forgiveness as we call out to Him. Men and fathers, we are in this together for the glory of our Lord and Christ!