One of the realities of the homeschool life is that everyday occurrences and situations can be learning opportunities if the homeschooling teacher is prepared to seize them. Years ago prior to terror attacks, when I took my mother-in-law to the airport for her yearly trip to see her niece, I arranged for my son to tour the control tower, even getting an opportunity to wear the headphones the controllers used to do their jobs. Years later when our dog needed an operation, the vet was willing to have my two daughters witness the surgery. I was always on the lookout for openings to give my children tangible examples of people at work. As a result, they had a high regard for those who worked hard to earn a living.
Other situations lend themselves to hands-on instruction. Once when we were buying a car, my husband allowed our two oldest children to participate in the purchase. My son and daughter each contributed about ten dollars of their money. Because of this, my husband invited them to join him in the finance office while the final details of the transaction took place.
Even special occasions can become times of instruction. Family gatherings like weddings, birthdays, and graduations provide the opportunity to teach. Funerals and memorial services do as well.
I witnessed one such teaching opportunity recently at a memorial service. It was a sad day, not only because a death had occurred, but also because the deceased had committed suicide. Seated behind me was a homeschooling family who were friends of the deceased’s brother. The children, all under the age of twelve, listened to various remembrances, reflecting conflicting perspectives regarding the eternal state of the woman who had died. Many of them did not reflect a Christian perspective. This experience gave the parents extensive material from which to discuss the important subjects of life, death, and what happens when we die.
Some would argue that it is cruel to lay such heavy subject matter on children. I wholeheartedly disagree. Who better than parents to discuss such important topics within the context of their Christian faith and a Biblical world and life view? Certainly, there will be varied levels of understanding according to the maturity level of each child. However, precisely because the children witnessed the grief and sorrow of those attending the service the parents were given an excellent opportunity to discuss significant issues of the Christian faith in a real-life context.
The model for home education is one of discipleship, whereby parents discipline their children in the ways of God for the express purpose of furthering His Kingdom. Using the commonplace occurrences of life as the springboard from which to teach makes the homeschooling journey one of endless possibilities.
- 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].