HOME EDUCATION…THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR ‘WHY’
An Article for Home Educating Fathers by Kris Baines
“So why do you homeschool your children?” I doubt there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t been asked that question before! Perhaps in a moment of despair you have even asked yourself – “Now why are we doing this again???” Well relax because it’s quite normal to ask that question, and we can be sure our wives have asked it many more times than us husbands have!
Something I have found to be very beneficial, is to sit down with my wife Becky every now and again, not so much to talk about the ‘what’ of home education, but instead to remind us both of the ‘why’. This is something we men can, and should initiate as the spiritual leaders in our homes – and doing this we can really help and encourage our wives in their daily and often challenging role.
When our family first started to home educate (2005), our reasons were much more about what we didn’t want to do for our children, than what we did want to do for them. When asked why we home educated, it was easy to talk about the concerns we had with public schools, and the harmful influences we were protecting our children from etc. However, as the years went by our ‘why’ became far more proactive than it was reactive, and this has resulted in a more hope-filled, and enduring commitment to home educating our children. This especially helps us get through those inevitably frustrating and testing times as home educating parents.
HOME EDUCATION & THE GREAT COMMISSION
Is your foundational motivation and reason for home educating your children to help them grow into mature followers of Christ? If the answer to that question is yes, as I believe it would be for the majority of Christian home educators, then your thinking is in line with the Biblical mandate given to all believers, in Matthew 28:18-20…And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
If the Great Commission (and it is a great commission!) is to be obeyed and implemented, then it goes without saying that this must begin first and foremost in the home. When you ask yourself why your family home educates, is the Great Commission something that comes to mind? Surely this is one of the greatest ‘whys’ that we can have for engaging in home education – in many ways the ‘why’ above all ‘whys’.
MY RESPONSIBILITY AS A FATHER
As a father it is a deep conviction and concern in my heart that if my children grow up to be great in any sphere of academics, or in any gift, talent, ability or vocation – but they do not grow to love, know, serve and honour Christ – then I have failed as a father. I realise now more than ever before that all of the activity that happens within our home under the banner of “home education”, is primarily the outworking of a responsibility that sits squarely on my shoulders – that of raising godly children in an ungodly world as it says in Ephesians 6:4… And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
This verse always reminds me that the “training and admonition”, is ultimately my responsibility, no matter how much I delegate to my wife. Practically speaking, of course my wife will have the most influential time with our children in terms of hours and minutes, but this is to be part of the fulfilment of my responsibility through delegation, not the avoidance of it.
REDEFINING OUR MOTIVATIONS
When sitting down to talk about the ‘why’ with Becky, it always boils down to that one primary aspect of family discipleship. After focusing on this for a while, there are sometimes certain tasks or activities, which all of a sudden seem redundant to that primary vision – and they are then easy to adjust, change or drop altogether! Having our ‘why’ as discipleship above all, helps us to re-define our motivations.
For example, in the area of learning to read – our motivation could be, “We want to teach our children to read so that they can develop a love of reading, learn about many subjects from various books, and not be illiterate” – or it could be, “We want to teach our children to read, because then they can read God’s Word, and find out all God has to say about life and how we should live. We want them to know, love and serve Christ by what they read and learn about Him”. By developing a love for God’s Word, our children will have a Biblical filter for all other material they read during their lives, and this will help them to enjoy reading and love learning, being guarded by the truth and safety of God’s Word.
Another example would be in the area of creative skills, such as art or music. Our motivation could be, “We want our children to excel in their talents, do well in competitions, and be an example of excellence to others”, or it could be, “We want our children to excel in their talents, and discover how God can use them for His glory to humbly bless and serve others – yet having their gifts and abilities surrendered to the priority of God’s will for their lives”.
This helps us to carefully and prayerfully monitor the way our children develop and practice their skills. Is a certain talent or the pursuit of it, going to distract from other priorities? Is the time spent going from place to place to meet other’s expectations going to hinder rather than help our vision for discipleship? Are there heart issues that need to be lovingly dealt with, as a result of too much focus on one child’s “gift”? These are all important questions to consider.
We can practice family discipleship through home education, rather than see them as two separate entities. In certain areas of our home education, the fundamental teaching methods and activities may not look any different, but the underlying perspective and motivation certainly is.
Academic activity can and should have a spiritual motivation behind it, as we encourage our children to be equipped for all that God has called, and will call them to do. All learning can have an eternal purpose, if it remains safely submitted to the plans and purposes of God. Lastly, this perspective will also help us to form a more proactive “why”, as we tell others, and ourselves, that our main reasons for doing what we do, is to raise followers of Christ, who will know Him, love Him, and serve Him with all their hearts. Everything else can come second.
Kris Baines is married to Becky, and they home educate their 7 children in Rolleston, Christchurch. In addition to being a husband and father, Kris is a pastor, Bible-teacher, paramedic, and composer. He speaks and writes on subjects such as fatherhood, motherhood, marriage, family discipleship, and home education. For more information on the Baines family ministry, or to request Kris to speak at your church/event, visit www.psalmtwelveone.org.nz, or email Kris at email@example.com