It's not unusual to look for positive feedback when we're involved in a consuming commitment. Rewards along the way can confirm that we are headed in the right direction. They can also raise our level of involvement. Although a final reward may not be the reason for our labors, it would certainly help to add excitement to our efforts. So in the interest of encouragement, let's consider the rewards of being a Christian home educating family.
One of the great rewards of home education is the ability to orchestrate the family atmosphere. Parents can determine the tone, quality, and character they want in their home environment. Then they can oversee the process of developing their family vision. Time, just plain time, is one of the main resources for this task.
Time spent together allows family members to get to know each other. Time working together provides opportunities to smooth out rough patches in relationships. Although there is no guarantee of perfection, the hours home educating families spend together do give parents more of an opportunity to accomplish family harmony. There are numerous occasions throughout each day to work toward that goal. Our family and many other home educating families are experiencing the rewards of close family relationships.
Home educating families have the freedom to respond to God and His Word. We can submit every situation and event, whether it occurs inside or outside the family, to Scripture. We can demonstrate for our children how to understand our world through the truth of God's Word without interference. Then, as we seek ways to respond in accordance with Scripture, we can share with them a life of obedience.
We can focus on God's standards and guidelines above all others. When children spend time in other educational settings, they are not only outside the influence of their parents, they are also under the influence of others. This influence may be in direct opposition to the family's values and goals.
This is not to say that children should never be away from their parents. There is a difference between being exposed to other ways of thinking and being dredged in them. Taking an art class or playing on an athletic team is considerably different from spending six to eight hours a day, five days a week in a government classroom. Each family needs to decide what the balance is regarding this issue.
We have found experiences in other settings, when limited and appropriate to maturity levels, to be valuable training exercises. They can provide excellent opportunities to reinforce Biblical values. We've had some of our best conversations with our daughters as a result of outside experiences. In this way, distractions are restrained from causing strife and turned into occasions for promoting the truth of Christianity.
In addition to being able to create an atmosphere that is conducive to the transmission of faith and a Biblical worldview, home educating parents are also able to incorporate activities that contribute to the family vision.
The activities we choose to include in our family life add more than information or fun or motivation. They also create memories and warm family bonds. When our daughters were younger, we had a regular spring routine. On the first windy day we would go to a local park and fly kites. We still reminisce about all the laughing and running we did and Dad's bat kite that dove into the ocean.
Family traditions are another type of activity that foster close family relationships. When our oldest daughter was born, we thought a lot about how we wanted to celebrate Christmas. We decided that we wanted the advent season to be a special time of reviewing the whole breadth of the Bible and not just Luke 2. So I put together an advent calendar that has felt symbols in the 25 pockets. The verses that accompany each item begin with Genesis 1:1 and end with John 3:16. We now include our grandchildren as we read our way across God's Word each December.
These episodes of special family times can be compared to the stars in a constellation. As each one is added to the collection, the image becomes more recognizable as the object it represents.
The full constellation may not be perfect, but it will resemble the image it's meant to portray. The more Biblical, family-oriented activities, memories and traditions we include as we work our way along the path toward our vision, the more our families will resemble that vision. The two hours we spent each year flying kites are several bright stars in our constellation. During that time we were rejoicing in the family God made and enjoying the precious time we had together.
Sometimes the star may be only a pinprick of light. For example, in the midst of ongoing sibling rivalry the aggressor gives in to the passive child and hands over a toy unbidden. At bedtime a child prays for someone and you realize the poignancy of his request. There are fleeting conversations and events that reflect what we really believe God wants our families to be. These moments, large and small, are being joined together in the constellation of our family vision.
There are rewards in the future that we, and our nation, will receive as a result of our home education efforts. From our full-time commitment to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord will come God-seeking descendants and a better America. We learn in Exodus that God's blessings are generational. They are for our children, our grandchildren, our whole family line.
You shall not bow down to them [idols] or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments (Ex. 20:5-6).
The expression of God's love cannot be fully marked or measured. His Word says that children are in line to receive His blessings through the obedience of their parents. Therefore, Christian parents who decide to pursue a home education program out of obedience to God's call are opening the door for special benefits to come to their children.