Thursday, 28 August 2014

Keep it Simple, Natural, Honest Pt 4

Pictures: ‘The Mouse Family ABC’ by Rosalind Sutton, published by Brimax Books, 1989


One of the things I discovered is that no learning material is neutral – it all has a bias, whether it’s a secular, humanistic bias, a no-God bias, or even a so-called ‘Christian’ bias and we need to make sure that the material is biased towards God and His truths.    There’s nothing wrong with using secular material, or apparently neutral material, if we as parents are able to guide the child through and counteract any fallacies or half-truths, directly presented or just hinted at.  We need to do this for everything they see, hear, read, taste, touch, etc, in their natural surroundings or on television or in hearing someone's opinion, etc.   The correct interpretation is vital for their understanding of what truth is, and for them to build a correct world view.   We also need to carefully look at apparently Christian material, because it often has a bias that is not Biblical, but rather teaches legalism and judgement and doctrine. 

Using a Bible-based curriculum in the early years, either a purchased one or something you put together,  will ensure that your children measure the truth of what they're reading through the primary and high school years, when you're less able to monitor everything they read and hear and see.    It's really important to lay a solid foundation of truth for them to measure things against as they grow and learn.    If you think that's brainwashing, it is.   Our children are naturally inclined to sinful thinking and actions and their brains need washing.   It is our responsibility to teach them the truth from a very young age, which is when they're most inclined to believe it, and to teach them how  to think.    The earlier we start, the cleaner the slate stays, and the less they have to unlearn wrong mindsets later.  

In the primary and high school years, your children will start to read a lot of history, both in history books and in fiction.   Many history books have a bias against God and will not tell you the whole story or the real story.   They may not speak against God, but simply leave God out of the text, and that in itself is a half-truth.  For example, most history books will not tell you that that many, many Christians saved the Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk, nor that Winston Churchill called for a national day of prayer before D-Day and other significant events of that time.   They also won’t tell you that the Spanish Armada was turned back from invading England by unusual gale force winds, after some serious praying in England.   They won't tell you that during the 6-day war between Israel and Arab forces in 1967, the Lord moved supernaturally in the form of a mighty wind to save many Jewish soldiers who had no way of escape.  

They also won’t tell you of the Christian heritage of early Australia and that many explorers, law-makers, educators, nurses, social benefactors, etc, were devout Christians and that they did what they did based on their love for God and wanting to see His policies established in the new society.  

These well-known historical events are often not presented honestly and so we need to use the resources with our children and be accountable for the views they develop.  

Similarly, when our children are learning about the natural world, we need to guide their thinking and their learning.   Science is one of the major areas where the enemy draws young people away from believing the Word of God.   There are some really good, solid resources out there to educate even very young children about the infallibility of God's Word, from Creation to Revelation.   Also, it's important to teach them how to view all the natural things they see around them, from their pets, to where their food comes from, to the weather, to the night-time sky, to different locations they visit, etc.    Teach them how to see the natural world the way God does. 

It is our responsibility to guide our children's thinking, from a very young age, and to watch what they hear, see, touch and taste, and to strengthen them to withstand the lies of the enemy as they encounter them. In the high school years, they need to know what others believe, but lay the right foundation first, so they can smell fallacy when they do find it. 

And lastly, one of the most important aspects of being honest, and which can be very difficult, is that as our children grow, our walk needs to match our talk.  We teach our children a lot in the early years when they are receptive to absorbing all that we say.     It's a lovely time, when they're little, and we are everything to them, though it's often very exhausting, physically and mentally.   They ask us endless questions, they look to us for answers, they believe what we tell them,.   As they grow and learn and interact with the outside world, they will see and hear much that makes them realise that there is a huge gap between us and the wider world.   As they grow, our credibility with them needs to increase, not decrease, and we need to be people they can respect and believe and want to learn from.     

One of the most helpful teachings I've heard on this is from a homeschooling mum of seven children who compared our homes to a garden with walls.   While our children are little, we need to keep those walls of protection strong so that they can grow in good soil and are protected from things that they are too young to cope with.   Feeding them all that's true and good and noble is a good foundation.   As they grow, they start to get tall enough to see beyond the wall and start to be affected by conditions and temptations outside that garden.   That's when they start to make choices about what they believe and what they want to do, and where they want to be at some later point.    Those choices are  heart choices that are made quite early, often as early as 8 or 9 or 10, and those heart choices become obvious in their teen years when they start to gain independence and the ability to make bigger choices.  

Our gardens need to be places where they are safe, able to grow strong, and able to respect and trust those that are tending them, because they have been nurtured and trained and fed on good things, and because they have been respected.   There have been a few times when I have wondered whether some homeschooled children really are better off at home because their home environment is often negative and suffocating and damaging, and I have been around long enough to see some of those children become quite dysfunctional or bitter and angry teenagers and young adults.    

Rest assured that the enemy targets kids in Christian families, as well as parents and marriages.   He is on the war path and the battle is a spiritual one, not just an academic one.    It's not what we tell our children we believe, but who we are and what we love, that will have the biggest impact on them as they grow.    We need to be honest before God and before our children about stuff that's not right in us, and deal with it, not bury it.    If our homes are places of truth and trust for everyone, our children will be blessed and able to love God and honour Him as they move beyond our homes.  

We also need to gradually shift from being a person of authority to becoming a person of influence as they move through their teenage years and into adulthood, and to do that, we have to be people with credibility. 

So, as we aim for successful homeschooling, let's keep these verses in front of us:  

Psalm 78:1-7 

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old -
3 things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
His power, and the wonders He has done.
5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel,
which He commanded our ancestors to teach their children,
6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.

Isn't that what we want most for our kids - that they know and trust and obey God?   That is success, regardless of whether this world recognises it or not. 

And that success can  be achieved simply, naturally, honestly, day by day, line upon line, precept upon precept, in your home, and mine.   

 Linking up at Thriving Thursdays


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