Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hot days and cold splashes... of curriculum!

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?


  1. Hi,
    Yes! Bible study *is* curriculum! Hallelujah. I loved your post. I don't agree with absolutely everything but that's because our family lifestyle is different but the core message is the same: Bible-First!

    We don't necessarily do Bible study first thing every day. We don't necessarily do indepth Bible study every day.Oh, I planned to but sometimes life gets in the way...but upon further reflection and discussion with my dh, we have come to realise that this too, fits in with our goals. Whilst habits are good we don't want to relegate Bible study to being just a habit...we want God's word to breathe life...we want the word to be living in our lives and sometimes habits can become this (not for everyone but maybe just for us).Regardless, God and His word are central to our lives- the Bible forms our worldview. The concept of Bible First is there - the practical outworking or appearance might look different to other families.

    Great post! Might if I link to it at some stage?

  2. I am glad you were able to gleam the core message from my post :-) I was thinking of the diverse family structures out there as I wrote it and hoping that others would be able to gather the tidbits needed! My main goal was to tell families who might think the Bible is separate from curriculum that it can, in fact, be a key part of it!

    I had to think some about my use of “habit” after your coment and I came to realize how uncomfortable I am with that word in this context! It seems to demean the sanctity of worship if taken in a raw, just check it off my to-do list, fashion. I don’t like that much at all! So here is my retraction that I must print to that effect:

    “We should be seeking divine intimacy on a regular basis with the hope of achiving a course which is perpetually holey”!! I like that much better than suggesting generic “habits”! (can you tell I am my own worst critic?!?)

    You are right, not all days are amicable to a full-fledged Bible study. On the worst of these days I try to at least remember Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it." On busy days when I am trying to round kids up early for a trip into town and any hopes of a “regular” schedule seem dashed, I will often march through the house declaring this scripture quite boisterously (as my 11 year old groans and hides in her covers because she is NOT a morning person!!!!)

    Thank you for your comments. I am always glad to hear if my posts are able to help or inspire others in one way or another :-) You are definitely welcome to link my articles if you feel they can help others you know!

  3. Thanks for letting me link to your articles! I'm glad you didn't take my thoughts as criticism- they weren't meant to be...we all come from different backgrounds and cultures with different lifestyles and sometimes a word will have different connotations for some people. Or maybe we have our own preconceived notions that associate with a word (which is what I struggle with in relation to the word 'habit').

    Thanks for clarifying...although I got the gist of your post but it's helpful for others as well :)

  4. No, I didn't think it critisism... I was actually greatful for your point. Like I replied, it made me realize that we are bordering on defiling the sanctity of our Heavenly Father when we religate our time with him to mere habit! You are right in saying "habit" can evoke different meanings to different people. I appreciate you inspiring me to think more deeply on that!

    I do understand the cultural perceptions as well. I noticed you are from Australia! I may never have left the U.S., however, I grew up in Illinois just outside of Chicago. I was use to a culdron of culture and being a minority within it. When I was 18 I moved west, living first on an Air Force base outside of Spokane, WA (previously married to the military) and then in Portland, OR and now in Montana. I am noticing that, even within this small country of ours, there is a great expanse of perspectives from coast to coast. The things I can say or do in Chicago, may not fly here in Montana... and vise/versa! It is amazing how perspective transforms depending on region.... or country!

    I am glad, and thankful, to have you visiting my site :-)