As I sit back and enjoy the end of our first full week of summer "vacation" I find myself catching up on reading I put off in the busyness of the school year. Today I was absorbing an article from the Summer 2009 issue of Teach Magazine entitled, "The Perfect Curriculum" by Amy Olthouse. Her sentiments rang true to certain ideals I have recently decided to adopt in our homeschool.
This spring I realized that one of the reasons we homeschool is so that our children can experience true religious freedom. God has put on my heart the need to make the Bible an integral part of our daily curriculum.
It is easy to take some days and diminish the value of that time in the Word in lieu of "academics" in the sense of math, language arts, and reading. But the fact is, all homeschooling days are more fulfilling if they have begun with prayer and devotion.
Mrs. Othouse quotes scripture that reminds us of this important prescription to any spiritually successful homeschooling house:
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33
She references the story of Jesus in the home of two sisters, Mary and Martha, and encourages us to think of the importance we place on our to-do list and obligations vs. God's to-do list and needs:
"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.... Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42
We have been told, and know within ourselves, that time with our Heavenly Father each day is critical to our faith walk. But what are we teaching our children if we do not lead them in this same discipline?
It is ironic... or rather a blessing... that ever since I began our morning Bible sessions, our day seems to correlate to those lessons. Just like the "learning moments" homeschoolers are encouraged to cease for those academic necessities and life skills, biblical learning moments abound when we take that time each morning to seek His guidance and learn of His will through His Word! Science lessons suddenly become filled with the glory of God and the wonder of His power. History is brought to life through the Truth of His word and the proof of His almighty existence. All of our day's experiences are sweeter when we have been filled with His words and carry them throughout the day.
It is important that we don't bog down our (or our children's) days/schedules with so much that they can not move in Faith. We must first charge our Faith battery [Mrs. Olthouse's article gives a great analogy to this] if we are to keep running all day long, fighting the battles of impurity all around. Without that Heavenly charge we are run down/bogged down, and open to trampling by the world around. Are we doing all we can for our children when we freely allow family worship to wain to the curb day-in-and-day-out.
Not every day is a perfect day. Even with a morning study and devotion, some days just won't click on. But we take those days, search for the heavenly lesson within, remain prayerful, and look forward to a new day tomorrow.
Mrs. Olthouse gives 6 questions to ask yourself to be sure you are seeking God first. I offer a few suggestions in making it happen:
1. I heard once that it takes 30 days to form a habit. It may be hard to circle the wagons of a large family on one topic, but it must be done persistently... even on unsuccessful days... and continued. After 30 days you will find your life empty without it!
2. Do your Bible study at the same time every day. (this also helps with forming the habit)
3. You decide what works best for your family.
- There are many devotionals on the market that can appeal to an array of ages.
- You could also choose to start at the beginning of the Book and read a chapter a day.
- Most Bibles have a section that takes you through, step by step, to read the Bible in a year
- Clubs like AWANA will encourage memory verses. You can do these as a family and/or read the chapter each verse is in to understand its context.
4. Relax and enjoy this time. Make it a time everyone looks forward to each day.
5. Use this time to talk about God. Look up words in a concordance and research their intent and understanding (great language arts and foreign language lessons can come out of this). We need to encourage our children to KNOW God personally.
6. On the note of #5, realize that Bible study IS curriculum. You can gleam history, math, language arts, reading, and even science from the pages of Scripture. Don't undervalue the quality of these lessons because they might not live up to some district standard! After all, one of the perks of homeschool is not having to keep to a district standard. (I know some states have mandates for testing, but you can still use the Bible to obtain those concepts and provide a deeper understanding of the standards your state requires you to keep)
7. Ahhhh, heavenly #7! "Apart from me, you can do nothing" John 15:5 Absorb that phrase, make it part of your being. Know that all of your day begins with submersion in His Holy Spirit and submission to His will. Like washing up for dinner or taking a shower to feel fresh and ready for some chore or experience, we must cleanse ourselves through the Holy Spirit each morning, be one with our Heavenly Father if we are to accomplish great things, even if only in small ways, within each day.
So as we sip some ice cold lemonade and revel in the sunshine of warm summer days, consider the homeshool days ahead. Set forth with Holy Scripture and prayer, quiet little faces bowed in meditation, eyes sparkling with the amazing fill of true understanding that God's hand is in all of life around us, learning new vocabulary and accelerating reading skills as small voices speak Scripture the eyes see on thin pages, history comes alive with deep understanding when Moses stands up to the Egyptians, multiple digit math is tackled with tenacity as young fingers count off the years that overlap Adam and his descendants' lives, art takes on new meaning when rainbows are plastered over the fridge and voices declare, "God keeps his promise", children beaming with the love of God, helping a neighbor, sharing testimony with a friend.... what better education would God call us to give?