In May, I became a homeschool graduate. It was an exciting time as I finished one stage of my life and moved into another. My goal for my newly graduated life was, and still is, to prepare as much as I can before I get married. I want to be a wife and mother someday, if it be the Lord’s will, and what better way to practice for marriage than being at home with the instruction, guidance, and encouragement of my parents.
I have been preparing for this goal by learning to run a household, studying God's Word, doing some budgeting, helping my father start a business, building a website for the business, sewing, cooking, baking, and so much more! One area that my parents encouraged me to learn and grow in was homeschooling another. I have been privileged to work with my little five-year-old brother, Increase. Mom asked me to teach him reading and history, which are two of my favorite subjects.
We started teaching him to read when he was about three years old, working on letters and sounds. I had so much fun seeing him grow and understand more and more. Over this past summer, he learned how to sound out words and can now read simple sentences and books. For his fifth birthday, he got his own Bible, which he was really excited about since he could read some words in it.
I also get to teach him is history. I love history and looking back on what the Lord has done in the lives of great men and women, as well as the evil ones too. We can see God’s providence all throughout history. This summer and fall, Increase and I studied about King Alfred—how he made God’s law the law of the nation and instituted judges. We also learned about his great faith in Christ. Increase enjoyed studying about the weapons they used, but he’s a boy, so what can you expect? I did not know a lot about King Alfred, so I was able to learn right alongside of Increase.
Now, we are working through a history book that starts at creation, and works through Christ’s first coming and the time of the Romans. I had gone through this book when I was ten or eleven, but at the time, I wasn’t always paying attention. Going through it now, I am learning so much. I have discovered that you really don’t know something until you teach it to someone else. A few days ago, Increase and I learned about the Ice Age. As we studied, I stopped to explain things that he did not quite understand. I wanted to make sure he understood them better. His eyes just lit up when I did that and he enjoyed it so much more. Later that night around the dinner table, I asked Increase to tell Daddy some things that we learned about the Ice Age. This way he can teach someone and I'll know that he remembers it.
Over the past few months, I have learned many things by teaching my brother and I wanted to share them with you. First, teaching a sibling teaches patience. I think I can just leave it at that. There are days when Increase is ready to learn and is devouring the subject matter. Then, there are days that he has no interest whatsoever in his lessons. Those are the days when I have to be more patient with him, and also help him understand that we still do the right thing and the important things even if we don’t feel like it. There are days when he has a lot of energy. On those days, I have him run some laps before starting school to burn off that energy. Second, it teaches you how to teach. I was the one being homeschooled not so long ago, but as an older sibling, and a graduate, I have some insights to give to my younger siblings. I have a responsibility, an honor, and a privilege to help and encourage my younger sister and brother. Third, I get to learn something too! I have learned about things and events that I have forgotten about while doing my bookwork, and I have been able to study subjects that I had not studied during my early education, such as learning about King Alfred. Finally, it gives me an opportunity to grow closer to my siblings. I get some one-on-one time with them to talk and learn together. Increase and I have definitely become closer in our relationship as brother and sister, and I hope we can maintain this. Being an older sibling, I can help encourage him as he grows into manhood.
I am thankful for this time the Lord has given me to teach my brother and to learn valuable lessons that will serve me in the future. I would encourage other daughters or sons who have finished the formal part of homeschooling and who have younger siblings, to help teach them a subject or two. It will greatly benefit the work you do for the Kingdom! It can also help lessen your parents’ load for which they will be most grateful.
- Cassandra Zimmerman