Tag: homeschooling

Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A who lives without honor will not gain by education

Skeptics and Critics, Part 2

When we can ignore the skeptics

The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.

Exodus 14:14 (NASB)

I learned the hard way that it’s useless to try to justify our reasons for homeschooling. The best response is to listen quietly to criticism and swallow that big lump of hurt pride that sticks in our throats. Remember Jesus’ words:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

Luke 23:34 (NASB)

The devil would like nothing better than to use a good thing to force a wedge into relationships and tear them apart. We just have to let go of the urge to defend ourselves and let our actions speak for themselves.

Criticism is a great purifier. It’s one way God gives us a gut check on our motives and goals. After all, why are we doing this? Are our convictions solid enough to live out in the public eye of scrutiny? One of my favorites is last week’s quote from Matthew:

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

Matthew 11:19b (NASB)

The best recommendation we can receive is when others see the Lord Jesus doing a good thing in our lives. A godly life, lived quietly before God, can banish criticism better than any argument we can muster. When people see us walk out our faith, they will know our God is real. Then we can rejoice before the Lord when He takes our meager efforts and blesses them.

When we need to listen

Sometimes criticism is rooted in truth. Sometimes it’s the reaction of others to an unhealthy attitude they see in us. If we act smug or self-righteous, or if we carry around an air of martyrdom because we stay at home and care for our own kids, others may feel resentful and probably for good reason.

Perhaps in the past we have been prone to flit from one “ministry” to another without real direction or commitment. In this case, we are going to have to prove we are serious by stepping up to the new challenge in steadfastness and discipline. I’m sure God taught me more through homeschooling than I ever taught my own children.

It’s also important to validate the efforts and love of the many educators that serve in public and private schools. They have a really hard job. We are, after all, co-laborers toward a common goal.

Then there’s Noah

Our work with our children, even if carried out quietly, will spark resentment in people around us at some point. Those who aren’t in sympathy with the homeschool movement may feel intimidated by the homeschooler’s role as teacher. Others may feel convicted by a parent’s commitment to his children. Others are just opinionated and need to share that opinion with us.

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Hebrews 11:7

What we’re doing with our children flows from the same heart response that moved Noah to lead his children to salvation. The ark he built represented his faith and obedience to God’s word to him. He set his sights on completing the job given to him and ignored the criticism and mockery he undoubtedly experienced. He committed himself to the long haul and kept his eyes on the goal.

In the end, his obedience and toil were rewarded. May God take our small strength and empower us to walk in that same obedience.

Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A man who lives without honor will not gain from education.

Skeptics. Critics. Everybody’s watching.

Dance with the one who brung ya.

As you embark upon this journey in educating your young ones, you may find dealing with critics and skeptics one of your first and most emotionally exhausting battles (especially if you are a people-pleaser like me and hate confrontation).

Thankfully, the homeschooling movement is now largely accepted in much of this country and enjoys a large following. But when I first considered homeschooling in 1982, I was met with unanimous disapproval by my family and friends. Not one person thought I was doing the right thing. Some of them took pains to pull me aside and try to talk sense into me. Even my husband said the idea was crazy. He was understanding enough, thankfully, to let me try it. Eventually, my family became my most solid support base and source of help.

The real surprise was the amount of resistance I received from my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Prevailing attitudes about homeschoolers have mellowed, and many churches support home education today. But in the early years, my most bitter criticism initially came from God’s family. I was chastised for not committing to church programs and not being at some church functions. I was even told that my life was unbalanced because I spent my time at home with my children and husband instead of being at all the church activities. Although the criticism was well-meaning, it made a hard decision even harder. And it greatly contributed to the stress I was already feeling as a young mom, fairly new in my faith, with four little children to raise. How desperately I needed an older, wiser hand to lead me forward and encourage me!

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

-Matthew 11:16 -17 (NASB)

Jesus calls the tune to which we dance.

During these early years, God taught me valuable lessons in resisting peer pressure and striving to please Him rather than people. I also learned, mostly through my own mistakes, not to react personally to criticism, and to never see a critical person as my enemy.

Listen, learn, and respond.

So this journey to educate my own children was the path upon which I have been thoroughly “schooled” in the ways of God. In the beginning, I needed to quickly learn three important lessons: Listen to the concerns of others, figure out what God was trying to teach me, and respond in a Christlike manner – even if the criticism was unfounded. Our efforts with our children will eventually rise or fall on their own merits.

Home education, after all, is just a tool in the hands of God to educate an entire family in His ways.

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

Matthew 11:19b (NASB)

Next Week: Part 2 of Skeptics and Critics

Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A man who lives without honor will not gain by education.

Training in the Sand

The real joy of any job is doing with all our might before our Lord, knowing that every day is a blessed gift we are given to enjoy with Him and our families, whether we are working, studying, or playing. With our “eyes on the prize” of the high calling in Christ Jesus, we choose to ignore the length of the road before us and the potholes along the way.

It’s the finish line that fills our sight.

Our home is on the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) Indian Reservation in Idaho. The Nimiipuu are renowned for the breeding and training of Appaloosa horses. A tribal elder, a friend and neighbor of ours, once told me that his people used to train their horses by running them along the sandy beaches of the Clearwater River. Running in the deep white sand overdeveloped the horses’ leg muscles. Then when they raced their horses on dirt courses, their animals easily outdistanced their competitors.

If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,

Then how can you compete with horses?

If you fall down in a land of peace,

How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?

Jeremiah 12:5 (NASB)

Our families face incredible challenges and trials as this age draws to a close. We must set our hearts on training our young people so that they can run like the wind when they are put to the test.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things,. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

Therefore I run in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NASB)

Here is our course. We are to run in such a way, exercising self-control and self-denial, so as to be able to run our race with patience and finish our journey with joy. With our eyes on the prize, we are learning together, both parents and children, to be like our Master.

Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A man who lives without honor will not gain by education.

Yes, Virginia, there will be difficult days.

It’s a tough to find the right balance of work and fun in homeschooling, but it’s important to have both. Children feel honored and cherished when a grown-up takes real time with them, especially when that time is divided between work and play. Play more with the younger ones; slowly add work as they mature from level to level. But always insist on respectful attitudes toward you and each other.

If the child has never been outside the home for schooling, there may be fewer adjustments for both parent and child. But difficult days must be expected. They will come. Learning involves discipline, and our natures hate the pain of training.

The twin ideas of discipline and learning are so intertwined that the New Testament word for disciple actually means “learner.” The Greek word for discipline is suphronismos, which comes from the root suphron, meaning “to save the mind.”1.

Young children easily incorporate learning and play. They need much play time in an atmosphere that is free from intimidation and stress. Most discipline for them involves learning to do simple duties around the house and learning how to respect others. They should have plenty of room and time to play. Then increase their work load as their need to be challenged grows. Older children need enough work to stretch them without breaking their spirit.

When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; When I became a man, I did away with childish things. -1 Corinthians 13:11

Society already has too many forty-year-olds who have never learned how to grow up into maturity. Our job as parents is to guide the growing-up process of our children. Living things do not bear fruit until they are mature.

  1. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 308.

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