A thought hit me this morning as I washed the dishes before school: Homeschooling has taught me much about spiritual growth. As I look back over six and a half years of homeschooling, I find it quite amazing how the learning curves parallel. Yet, I don’t always pay attention to the spiritual side of the lessons that are so obvious on the homeschool side. Today, though, I paid attention. Will you allow me to share a few of the thoughts that passed through my mind?
Three Spiritual Realities Homeschooling Has Taught Me
Learning is a long, slow process.
My wonderful husband preached on this yesterday, and my mind mulled over it this morning. When my children first learned to read, it was a slow, painstaking process. Well, for two of them, at least. They learned their letters quickly, but had to work hard to discover what it meant to combine those letters into sounds and then words. My middle child, on the other hand, had no such difficulty. About a month before her fifth birthday I knew she was ready to begin the process. So, we started learning letter sounds. Within four months the child was reading on a fifth grade level. I couldn’t keep up with her! But, where her siblings struggled with the mechanics of reading, she struggled with comprehension. Words never stopped her. Meanings, however, did. All three of them had to work to learn to read. And they are still working to continually strengthen their reading muscles and advance their abilities.
Meanwhile, there is an incredibly beautiful lady at church, one I consider a spiritual giant. She has seen her children and grandchildren to adulthood and is now delighting in beautiful great-grandchildren. She has been a Christian for decades. Yet still she visibly grows. Her heart and mind are curious, hungering, and constantly reaching. Just as my children slowly learn the concept of reading, she, and other spiritual giants like her, are still slowly learning spiritual truths that will more greatly conform them to the likeness of Christ. Slowly. Steadily.
No one can know everything at once.
This might seem like a repeat of the first point, but it really is different. It’s easy to look at the vast amount of information out there and want to dump it all in my children’s heads right now! As my seventh grader starts pre-algebra, a calculus lecture from her father will be incredibly overwhelming for her.
That example seems obvious, I’m sure. Yet how often do we despair because we lack a solid grasp on the entirety of what it means to be a Christian? I remember a conversation with a newly saved young mom. The enormity of all she did not know weighed heavily upon her, leaving her in tears of frustration. Relief washed over her as we discussed taking small bites of Scripture and focusing on what the Lord was teaching her right then. Just as my seventh grader should only be expected to focus on pre-algebra, building on the math she learned throughout her elementary years, so we need only focus on the foundation we have established and the truths God is placing before us right now.
I am not teaching information.
When I tell people I homeschool, one of the most frequent responses I hear is, “I could never do that! I’m not smart enough! I don’t know enough to teach my children.” My response? Neither do I! When I first began homeschooling, I felt I had to know information before I could teach it to my children. I’ve since learned differently. My job is not to feed knowledge to them. My job is to build within them a passion for learning. All three of my precious students caught the learning bug at a very young age. They hunger for it. They crave it. They seek out and heartily embrace opportunities to learn new things. It matters little what I know. I must simply teach them how to satisfy their hunger for learning. I guide them to the appropriate resources, often learning right alongside them. What a joy such learning is!
At church I teach youth girls. Several of these girls have been raised in church, yet they seem to have very little familiarity with the Bible and its contents. Why? It’s not because they haven’t been taught – I know they have! It’s more that they’ve never caught a passion for the things of God. They’ve never discovered the joy of hungering after His Word. I can’t force that onto them. None of their teachers can. But we can live it in front of them! We can exhibit such a passion of our own that they desire what we have! It’s not an easy thing to communicate to teenagers who think learning is uncool. As I walk through the Bible with them, I hunger and pray that my excitement will be contagious. I don’t want to just give them information about the Bible. I want them to catch a hunger for it!
Yes, homeschooling has taught me much about science and history and many other things. But, it has also strengthened me spiritual. What a joy that God can grow me through every aspect of my service to Him!