One of my greatest pleasures in homeschooling my high-school-aged daughter centers on the conversations we have at the kitchen table. Much of the course work she now does involves online classes, junior college courses, and the reading we do together. Her genuine excitement when she learns new things is evident when she gets up from her chair and finds me (usually at my computer writing) to share this "neat thing" she just learned. I stop what I'm doing, and make my way back to the kitchen table to continue the discussion. Often these "interruptions" prove to be the most important aspects of the entire day.
Learning is composed of a number of distinct parts.
• First, the student has to be acclimated to the idea of receiving instruction and the setting has to be one free from distractions in order for there to be proper retention of material. Thus, having a specific location that remains the same day-in and day-out will help produce an environment of learning.
• Second, the student has to understand, to some degree, the importance of the activity taking place. This involves conveying the high calling it is to be a student of God's world in the context of His Word. Without this view, schooling tends to be approached with a "prisoner-of-war" mentality, and the activity becomes one of external conformity rather than actual learning.
• Next, the advance preparation work done to ensure that the student is working with suitable and beneficial materials now comes into play allowing the student to work independently. In cases where these are not readily available for a given subject, the homeschooling teacher needs to be prepared to formulate her own, or supplement her direct teaching with other materials.
• Finally, (and I believe this is the aspect of homeschooling that makes it a clearly superior choice) is the opportunity for the student to interact immediately with and pose questions to his parent/teacher in order to clarify meaning. The resultant discussion will not only enhance his understanding but will allow him to practice being articulate in the expression of his agreement or disagreement with the material. And, most importantly, the values and perspectives of the family will be the foundation of the education that takes place.
As schooling progresses, the homeschool teacher will face the challenge of engaging in more intellectual and sophisticated dialog and discussion with her students. During my twenty–six years working within the context of this discipleship mode of education, I met this challenge by never ceasing to be a student myself -- always adding to my treasury of knowledge in the fields of history, politics, current affairs, and most importantly maintaining a systematic theology -- in order to be an appropriate and qualified sounding board for my student(s). In short, the more the homeschool teacher embraces the fact that there is much more for her to learn, the better suited she will be to be the mentor/teacher her students require.
The early years of homeschooling are all about laying a Biblical foundation, basing each subject on a Biblical perspective. As students mature, they should be presented with challenging material that enables them to see how Biblical principles have been and are being "played out" in the world around them. They should have the distinct benefit of being taught by a parent/teacher who is continuing to expand her own knowledge and understanding in order for her to assist her students to make choices about how to best fulfill their calling under God, thereby using their God-given talents and abilities to further the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
- 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].