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Says Who? -- How to Determine What Children Need to Know and When

Early on in my homeschooling journey, I realized I had fallen into a statist mindset, thinking that the state was the expert concerning my children's’ education, rather than our Lord.

  • Jenni Zimmerman,
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Two of my daughters started out in government school and went through the fourth and second grades, respectively, before we made the decision to homeschool them.  While we were thankful to bring them home and thankful for God’s providence, I had no idea what I was doing and started our homeschooling journey by doing “school” at home.

I set aside a desk area for each girl and got many of the same items you would see in a schoolroom. I spent hours researching how to teach them and found the scope and sequences recommended for their age and grade.  After a few months, I quickly became frustrated at what they should “know,” by now, according to the scope and sequences I had researched earlier.  The whole first year was a struggle as I tried to push the girls along.  I wanted to make sure we covered what was necessary in what I was required  to teach and they were required to learn.

As we were plotting our second year, I went to my husband and sought his wisdom.  Up to that point, I had been taking the primary role and decision-making, and I was quite frustrated.  As I was venting and sharing my struggles with him, one question kept coming up, and our conversation went something like this:

“The girls are not where they are supposed to be,” I said, to which he replied, “Says who?”  “Says me!” I proclaimed.  He then proceeded with “Yes, but according to whom?” I said, “The people who decide what they should know and at what age.”  This went on and on for about a minute until we got to the root, and my answer became that the government decides.  At that point, he replied with “And therein lies your problem.  You are relying on the government to decide where our children need to be instead of the Word of God.”  At that point my heart sank. I had fallen into statism, thinking the state was the expert concerning my kids’ education, instead of our Lord.

Over the next few years, homeschooling became easier and, while we still had our challenges in different subjects, we made it a point to make sure that where our children were in their studies was where they needed to be, and not because of some list that someone else made  dictating where they should be. Our focus became more about character and building a Biblical foundation than strict academics.  Diligence was emphasized -- getting their work done.  They were taught that being able to read and communicate God’s Word to others is the main reason we learn to read, write, and to articulate well.  My daughters also learned that math skills help us in our day-to-day life and show that God is the God of order and not of chaos. Science, from a Biblical worldview, shows the magnificence of God’s creation and His glory. History came alive for the first time  as dates were for more than just remembering because we learned God’s mighty providence throughout all of history. I think two of the most important things they have learned up to this point is the fact that learning does not stop at graduation.  My husband and I learned just as much as they did over the past seven and a half years.  Secondly, they learned how to find  answers and to teach themselves. We do not expect them to know and retain everything.  We do expect them to learn how to find  answers and to seek them out.

My oldest daughter recently graduated and, while she may not have learned calculus, as she probably does not need it for her calling; she did get a solid Biblical foundation in numerous subjects that will help her excel in life.  Her grammar might be a B- or high C+ (if we were to use the government standard of success), but she recently received her results back from a Biblical Worldview test and received an A-. That is the test I want to hang on my fridge as it represents God’s standard in her life, not the state’s.

  • Jenni Zimmerman

Jenni is a homeschooling mom.  She and her husband, Chris, live in Washington state with their four children. The entire family are earnest students of Biblical law.

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