More and more mothers of very young children are seriously considering homeschooling as a future educational option for their children. It is encouraging to be asked by mothers of toddlers what curriculum they should order so they will be ready to begin schooling when their children are older. It takes awhile for these mothers to embrace the concept that they have already begun to homeschool. Because they equate education with academics, they mistakenly devalue the important lessons they are currently imparting to their children.
A learning environment is one where the authority of the teacher is respected and the learner accepts his responsibility to learn. The earliest lessons for little ones include teaching them to do what they are asked or told to do, giving them opportunities to develop patience, and providing experiences that give them a sense of achievement and success. When obedience is demonstrated, children should be given praise and encouragement. Positive responses should not only recognize the child’s cooperation, but should plant the seeds for future good behavior. For example, “Thank you for being an obedient child. Mommy appreciates it when you do what you are asked.” Or, “Wait until I share with Daddy what a helpful little girl you were today.”
Too often parents equate discipline with punishment, omitting the other aspects of discipline -- praise, correction, and instruction. It is helpful to prepare children for obedience by talking about future activities and explaining how you expect them to behave. For example, many parents struggle with keeping their little ones quiet during a church service. If they practiced with their children sitting still for periods of time during the week, and then on Sunday morning reminded the child how he was expected to behave, they would be laying a good foundation for the desired behavior. At first, the child may only last for part of the service, but each week as the mid-week training continues, the child would grow in his ability to sit quietly through a church service.
Book learning is only a fraction of what is taught in a homeschool. By laying a good foundation in the pre-academic years, it will be easier to train up a child in the way he should go both academically and spiritually.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].