We are heading into another school year, lining up all the activities and choosing the best curriculum. I always have such optimism at the beginning of the year that we will fit it all in. As parents we want to set our children up for success in their lives. No matter our own challenges, I think we all want for our children “something better”. So we do research online, in books, listen to the experts and “do our homework” so that we can vault them into a better life.
Somehow in the growth of homeschooling we have come to believe that academic achievement is the goal. To some families that may truly be the case and that is their right to chose for their children. But for me, for how I measure success in our home, that’s not my scale. I can’t get distracted by what others are doing and take their load upon my own family. We absolutely need to prepare our children with academic skills to navigate life. They need to be knowledgeable enough to be employable and to provide for themselves and their families (Because that is also directed in scripture). But I need to be careful to not emphasize the academics over the foundational teaching of Scripture, and it’s so easy to do.
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1 ESV )
There are careers yet to be invented needing skills that we dont even have on our radar. How can we prepare our students for a future as leaders? Shouldn’t we make sure that we are on the cutting edge of education? We can prepare them by developing a love of learning. We prepare them with a knowledge of how to learn and how to process ideas. There will always be new research and developments. We need to ground them in the truth of God’s Word which does not change. We need to provide for them the foundation of a solid biblical worldview so that they can navigate the onslaught of whatever comes their way. Just as Daniel was grounded when he stood before Nebuchadnezzar. He knew the teaching of his parents and was firm in his resolve.
We live in such a fast paced world, there are subjects that seem necessary to include now that will simply be obsolete in the future. It’s not that those things arent worth approaching at all, it’s that those things dont need the full weight of attention. Yes, we will be doing math, language arts, science, history and other formal learning throughout the year. But those are not to be primary to our learning they are supplemental to the wisdom and foundation that will lead to true success.
We see the futures of our children in tangible accomplishments. What college will they be prepared for? What career will financially provide the best for their future? What will put them ahead? But if we look to the Bible, those aren’t the priority. How do we measure those intangibles like kindness, service to others, integrity, faithfulness, zeal and love for the Lord? What if our scale was growth in the fruit of the spirit?
I think of Mary and Martha and wonder how much that lesson can apply to our homeschool lives. Jesus was there, in their presence at Martha’s house. Martha was anxious and troubled…. she was overwhelmed by all the THINGS that needed to be done. And there was Mary, just sitting at Jesus’ feet. Is He not in our homes now? Waiting for us to gather our children around and learn from Him and about Him. Yet so often we put Him off and focus on the subjects that are acclaimed to get our kids furthest ahead in life.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion. (Luke 10:41-42a)
God gifted us the right amount of hours in the day. I am the one who organizes my day to reflect my priorities. I have found that my time is more effective if I put energy into the most important things as I start the day. Just as if I started by filling a jar with sand and then adding large rocks, there would be no room for the larger rocks in the jar. If instead I place the largest most treasured rocks in the jar first and sprinkle the sand in after, I find that it all of the pieces fit. In the same way, I want to be intentional about scripture and biblical worldview in our homeschool. The academics can be added and of course they need to be learned. But where is the emphasis being placed in my homeschool? At the feet of Jesus learning from Him, investing in eternity? Or busy filling my jars with sand that will wash away?
(The rocks in the first jar represent starting our days with the most important items. The second jar illustrates with the sand how the less important and smaller things work their way into all the nooks and crannies to completely fill the jar. The third jar shows us how if we fill the jar (our days) with all the less important and inconsequential items first and then try to add the big things… well.. they just don’t all fit! Same jar, same amount of rocks and sand. It was the order that they were given that made the difference. As we are told in Matthew 6:33, Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you!)