Homeschooling and discipleship: teaching your children to know and love God
When you’re in the midst of the day to day grind of homeschooling your children it’s easy to get sidetracked by their academic needs. As a Christian homeschool parent, your journey is about discipleship more than anything. Passing on the faith is what this world needs most and it’s your job to do it. Here are a few things that helped us to disciple our children to know and love God – we realise that you probably already know them, but we also recognise how difficult it can be to stay on track and we need reminding every now and then.
Authority of scripture
Teaching the authority of scripture gives us a firm foundation of an absolute standard to guide us. Don’t wait until your children are in their teens to teach them doctrine. The Christian faith is not complicated and children can learn from the time they can talk (they have probably learned a lot more before that simply from hearing you read aloud to them and your loving relationship), so set the foundation early.
The world is in conflict with Christianity and our society places a lot of pressure on us and our children to run with the culture. It’s therefore vital that we train the minds of our children to think critically and weigh everything up with what the Bible has to say and help grow their worldview. Doctrine helps them to incapsulate the main ideas of scripture.
However, this training will not develop fully until the hearts of our children are changed by God’s saving power. His enlightenment of their soul and renewing of their minds will enable them to bring full fruition to the things you teach them. It’s a hard slog as a parent when you go through times of seeming little progress in this area; we need to persevere. It’s not the result we are doing the work for – it’s God’s job to produce that. Our job is to obey faithfully what he has called us to do and learn to rest in his promises.
Suggested reading: The Shorter Catechism and Training Hearts Teaching Minds
Humility and example
Submitting yourself to the scriptures and their authority will provide an example to your children of humility. Likewise, bucking, constantly questioning and undermining the scriptures will teach your children to do the same. It’s wise to weigh things up against what the Bible teaches, but when we’re wrestling with issues, we need to be careful not to form a habit of “yes, but…” and cultivate a mindset of “yes, Lord”.
When looking for opportunities to serve others, try and include your children working alongside you as much as possible. Serving God as a family helps you to all encourage one another to recognise and use your gifts, and will help you to guide your children in developing them.
More importantly, it will teach your children selflessness, and how to prefer others before themselves. Help them to think how you and they can be sensitive to others’ needs and to think creativley about how God might use you to meet those needs.
Serving others also teaches us to see the value in other people and the contribution they make to our own sanctification and growth. Loving others through thick and thin teaches your children committment, sacrificial love and relationship skills.
Teaching children to sit still in church
Many parents struggle with keeping babies and small children quiet and content during a church service. Six-month-olds through to about two and a half is the most difficult stage. The best way we found was to practice at home during daily family worship/devotions.
At home, you have the liberty to say and do what is necessary to train your child and bring correction if needed. But the main thing is for you to teach them a habit of reverence and listening when you come together for a time of Bible study and worship. If they need to be noisy, then encourage them to sing loud!
Now, when your child is noisy during church, what should you do? Well, taking them out is an option of course, but make sure you don’t reward them for their disruptive behaviour by letting them play and eat. You want them to understand that being in church with everyone else is the preferred and blessed option.
Having quiet snacks in limited quantities can work, too. Use wrappings that are quiet, and food that doesn’t leave crumbs or other mess. Think ahead and have a gamut of snacking options in your pantry at the ready.
It’s a fact that during this time in your life when you are training young children that you will not get to listen to sermons peacefully. It’s a season and it will pass. Try and talk to your husband or others after the service to fill in some gaps. If one thing is true, the frustration you feel teaches you all the more how important it is for your children to learn to listen, and so your frustration is a necessary part of the teaching process.
Suggested reading: Leading Little Ones to God
Our family never included Bible study as a “subject” but rather kept it separate, special and infused into our everyday life. That’s not to say that our home education was not also fused into our everyday life – we endeavoured to do that – but if all of that failed, one thing should remain – the worship of God as central in our family and building of our future families.
Use Christian curriculum
You need backup in what you teach your kids, mama! Backup comes in the form of hearing preaching, what the Bible says and what other Christians affirm to be true through their relationship with God. And Christian teaching materials. Make use of their research, study, experience and wisdom!
Pray for your children
This point is not last in the article because it is the least important – it’s the most important and we want to leave it with you as the main thing to remember. Without prayer, we rely on ourselves and our own work. Praying and asking God to draw your children to him is paramount and needs to be consistent over the years that you have them under your care and discipleship.