Do you realize, as a parent, you are the “Architect of the Next Generation?” What an incredible opportunity to influence our culture by raising children who will grow up to reflect God-honoring values. That’s why I chose to educate at home. Why do you homeschool? Here are a few reasons I have heard from moms who educate their kids at home:
- To give your child a better education than what public schools offer.
- To keep kids from being exposed to bad influences.
- To teach from a biblical worldview.
- Because my child has special needs.
- My child’s style of learning is not conducive to sitting quietly for hours on end.
I am sure there are a number reasons that brought you to the decision to homeschool. For each of my children the decision to educate at home was made based on their individual need, at particular times in their lives.
The wisest man who ever lived gave this advice about raising children: “Train up a child in the way they should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV). This means parents are to direct their children “according to their bent.” What does that mean? That means we have to know our kids as individuals:
- What motivates them
- What discourages them
- What issues they tend to struggle with
- How they process information
- The list goes on…
Homeschooling is a unique opportunity for parents to know their children well, and to help their children know themselves as well. But be aware – as homeschooling parents – there is a danger of assuming we know our kids intimately simply because we spend so much time with them. An illusion that often is shattered when a kid who feels misunderstood acts out. A wise parent will determine to be purposeful in building a relationship with their kids. But how?
In my book Moms Raising Sons to be Men I share 7 Principles for Raising Godly Sons. Let’s look at Principle 4, which says: Knowing your son well allows you to encourage his strengths and correct his weaknesses.
It has been said, “No one cares what you know until they know you care.” If you want to be heard by your son, he must believe you genuinely care about him. If he doesn’t sense you care he will reject you and refuse your instruction. So, be willing to invest the time required to build a close relationship with him. And listen–really listen–when he talks.
Quality Versus Quantity Time
The best way you can learn about your son’s strengths and weaknesses, and his hopes and dreams, is to spend quantity time with him. There is no substitute for that. The urban myth that quality time is sufficient has produced children who are unsupervised, and unprepared for life. Teens have been left to receive advice from their peers or from educators who often do not hold the same values as their parents. As a whole, the current generation is being shaped by ungodly worldviews from friends, the media, music, and the Internet.
When my youngest daughter, Kayla, started kindergarten, I went back to work full-time. I tried very hard to balance my job with raising my children. Each day after school, the bus dropped Kayla and her brother off at my office. All-in-all, it seemed like a perfect arrangement.
As the school year went on, however, Brandon, my quiet one, became quieter. He lost himself in Legos and videos. Kayla, on the other hand, grew quite demanding, and because I was tired from working all day, I gradually developed a habit of giving in to her.
By the time the second semester rolled around, I no longer knew the names of Brandon’s friends at school. And each evening, as I gave Kayla her bath, she would make an effort to talk with me about her day. I clearly remember one day she was particularly animated as she told me a story about something that had happened on the playground. I was tired and trying to wash her hair. As she chattered on, I grew irritated that she wouldn’t stop talking so I could rinse the soap off of her face.
Then it hit me: I had become so consumed with work I had forgotten my real calling was to be this precious little girl’s mommy! To look her in the eyes, listen to every detail about every person she played with that day–what kind of shoes they wore, and how they did their hair.
After I tucked my cute little chatterbox into bed, I went downstairs in tears and told Steve how much I had gotten off track. We knew we could not afford for me to quit working, but we decided to do whatever we had to so I could resign. I worked through the rest of the school year making adjustments in our budget so that we could prepare for my eventual unemployment.
That summer, my children were overjoyed to have their mommy back! Because I made my number one priority helping Kayla relearn the values we had established when she was young, we fondly refer to that summer as Kayla’s “bootcamp.” By the time she started first grade, she was her charming, obedient little self…
If you are a stay-at-home mom, and if you homeschool your kids don’t let opportunities for quality time with [them] slip by. Without any effort on your part to have purposeful interaction with your [children], you will not develop a good relationship with [them]. So determine to schedule quality time with your [kids]…ask God to help you to develop a closer relationship with your son, and make sure you take full advantage of the time you do spend together…
Shoulder To Shoulder
When women visit they often sit across from each other, focusing directly on the conversation at hand. By contrast men tend to communicate side-by-side, often while doing a task at the same time. If you want to get your son talking, remind yourself that his communication tendencies are likely different from yours. If you want to talk with your son, sit next to him when he is doing something he loves. Find ways to be involved in his activity.
Some of my best opportunities to talk with our oldest son, Tony, came sitting in his jeep while he worked on it. With his eyes focused on the engine, Tony’s mind and heart were engaged in our conversations. I am certain if I had forced Tony to sit across from me and “share his deepest thoughts” I would have heard not a word.
If your son has a habit of disappearing to play with toys, follow him to his room sometime. Ask if he wouldn’t mind if you watched awhile. Yes, even if that means hours of observing him play with his Legos.
And as he plays don’t use that time to talk about all that is on your mind. Rather, make yourself listen. Long periods of silence are okay; don’t feel you must fill the quiet with words.
Ask him just one thought provoking question. Then see where he takes the conversation. Keep in mind you are there to observe, encourage, and maybe engage in his activity–not criticize how he plays, or clean up after him.
“Although it might be hard for you to find time to do this because you have so many other pressing demands on your time, be careful you do not miss opportunities to get acquainted with your son’s heart. Remember, there is an urgency to build this relationship. Your son will soon be grown, and the foundation you take time to lay now will reap blessings for years to come.”
Excerpted from Moms Raising Sons to Be Men (pg. 147-150)
Whatever your reason for homeschooling, I think we all agree the number one reason we homeschool is we believe it is the best decision for our child. Academic excellence in itself is an unworthy goal, we must determine to know our kids well, and then direct them according to their bent. Your commitment to do so will make you more influential than you ever dreamed possible!