New to Homeschooling? Let’s Talk Pros and Cons

scalephoto2So, you’re getting ready to homeschool for the very first time. Good for you! There are many advantages to homeschooling, and here are just a few:

1.)  You guide what your children learn and from what perspective. This was the reason we decided to homeschool. We wanted to give our children a biblical worldview, and we didn’t want to waste energy constantly trying to undo what they would be taught by someone else.

2.)  Your children can learn at their own pace. Although you will need to keep goals for the school year in mind and schedule accordingly, your schedule  does not need to be set in stone. Homeschooling gives the freedom to slow down a little or go back over a topic until it is mastered, if your child doesn’t nail it the first time. This is especially important in the early years, when foundations in reading and arithmetic are laid. If the foundations are shaky, it isn’t going to do much good to go on building, so it’s better to take extra time to learn basic concepts well. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to do that. On the flip side, if your child is out way ahead of the game, he or she can learn at a faster pace without having to wait for other students to catch up.

3.)  You can answer their questions and teach them the practical stuff of life as the need arises. Take advantage of those special teaching moments that come up naturally during the day, which have nothing to do with the class at hand. Does your child suddenly pop out with a question, smack dab in the middle of a math lesson,  about God, or how to handle a relationship problem with a neighbor child, or how insects manage to hang upside down on the ceiling? Use the opportunity! Math can wait.

4.)  You can offer classes which might not be available to your children in a traditional school. Do you own a home business or excel at a hobby? Do you know the fine points of  creating a website or how to build a treehouse? Teach your children what you know.

Teach them life skills. Many traditional schools include this topic in their educational program, but it just works better in a natural setting. You can teach some life skills  as a “class,” but a lot of  this type of learning  is going to happen informally along the way. We tried to make sure our daughters were as prepared as possible to live in the “real world” once they were grown. I kept that goal in the back of my mind throughout our homeschooling years, and I kept a checklist of things I felt they would need to know.

5.)  You can tailor your teaching to how your children learn. Some kids learn best by hearing, some by processing  visually, some by participating in hands-on activities. Whatever your child’s learning style, you can choose a curriculum which fits him or her well — or adapt your curriculum to accommodate him. This is often not practically possible in a traditional school setting, although many teachers do their best to provide a variety of learning opportunities for their students.

The points I’ve just mentioned can be boiled down to flexibility — one of the greatest advantages of homeschooling. There are other obvious reasons people choose to homeschool, such as reducing social contact with children or adults who would be a negative influence, cutting down on exposure to communicable diseases, and avoiding violence possibilities in the institutional school setting.

Next time we will talk about the disadvantages of homeschooling. I think you will find the pros far outweigh the cons, but it’s still good to know what challenges you will have to find ways to overcome.

New to Homeschooling? Series — Pros & Cons (Continued)
New to Homeschooling? Series — Record-Keeping Demystified 

Character Building for Families

New to Homeschooling? Classes and Record-Keeping Demystified

one room schoolhouseIf you are new to homeschooling, the responsibility can seem overwhelming, and you may be a bit nervous about it. It’s really not that hard. You’ve gotten the kids this far, and you’ve already taught them a lot of things without thinking twice about it — stuff like bathing, brushing their teeth, tying their shoes, how to use crayons or markers, etc. You succeeded in potty training them, didn’t you? Hey, you are already a great teacher! You can do this!

But maybe you are unsure about what to teach. Of course, there are the basics — math, science, language arts (which is made up of reading and writing, basically), and social studies (history, geography, cultural studies — not all necessarily taught in the same year).

Many states have a requirement that you teach health. You don’t need a textbook or a special class time for this. You can use what Ruth Beechick called the “total immersion method” — which is a fancy way of saying you teach it on the fly, as needed. When they’ve got an owie, teach first aid. Talk about what to do to get better when they are sick, and what not to do, so they won’t get sick. Teach them the four basic food groups or the food pyramid, or however you want to instruct in healthy eating, as you prepare meals together. It’s all just common sense knowledge that you would probably pass along to them at appropriate ages anyway.

What about art, music, and physical education? These are not generally state-required subjects, so you can relax and just have fun with them. For art in the younger grades, you can simply provide the materials and let the children explore as they choose. Get each of them a sketch book and encourage them to use various art media to fill its pages. One of our children had a talent for drawing. We initially bought a few simple how-to books for her to practice with, but eventually she took art classes from a professional artist in our area.

Farm out music education, if you are not a musician yourself. (And yes, you can count those outside lessons as school time!) Sing songs together. Listen to classical music on your public radio station or YouTube. If you are a Christian, worship together using worship music found on YouTube or at other music sources.

Have Dad teach the kids to play basketball or baseball. Go hiking at a local park. Ride bikes or go walking together. Take advantage of your community recreation department or YMCA for sports or swimming lessons. It all counts as phys. ed. and if you do it on the weekends just because you are having a good time together, you can still count it toward school hours accomplished.

Art, music, and phys. ed. do not each need to be done every day of the week. Get a little exercise several days a week, and do the art or music once or twice a week.

If you are a Christian, a Bible course is just as important (really, more important) as all the other core subjects. You can use a course from a curriculum publisher, but there may be times when you will need to discuss areas of doctrine which don’t agree with what you believe. We used a prepared curriculum which came from our denomination for our first child, but with our second, we simply read the Bible aloud together and stopped to talk about what we were reading along the way. I really liked the second approach much better than using a canned curriculum, and I think our daughter learned just as much. We also used Character Building for Families (which I wrote, and am therefore fond of) to teach Christ-like character to our girls. It worked for us — maybe you would like it too!

So those are the basic classes.

What about record-keeping? Requirements vary from state to state, but for your own sanity, keep it as simple as possible. Save the work the children do in their core classes as proof, in case authorities ever question whether you are legitimately teaching the children. Keep a copy of whatever forms you filed with your state department of public education.

If you are required by your state to homeschool a minimum number of hours annually, divide that number of hours by 180 days (for a 9-month school year) to find out how many hours you should put in per day, on average. Keep a record of what days your school was in session, and for how many hours each day. I did that by simply recording the starting and ending time of each day on an ordinary wall calendar.

I also kept track of any hours we spent over the summer doing educational things. Count those camping excursions, summer recreational activities, vacation visits to away-from-home places, or anything which could qualify as a field trip, and add the hours spent doing them into your next school year’s hours. You would be surprised how much legitimate learning goes on over the summer months.

New to Homeschooling? (Part 1)
New to Homeschooling? Series — Pros & Cons

Character Building for Families

New to Homeschooling?

school_books_smlSo, you are planning on homeschooling your children for the very first time this fall. Congratulations! It is going to be an exciting adventure, and yes, you can do it and do it well!

When you are first starting out, the prospect of teaching your children at home can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems. Let’s do a little checklist of what needs to be done now so that you are ready when the school year arrives.

1.  Find out what your state’s regulations are and how to comply. — The requirements for each state are different, and it is important to be well informed. Surprisingly (or maybe not), your state’s department of public instruction is not always the best place to find out what the rules are. Some overstate the requirements for homeschooling or ask for more of your family’s personal information than your state law requires.

Your state homeschooling organization, made up of homeschooling parents who stay up-to-date with current law, is usually the best place to find out everything you need to know to be in compliance.  Here’s a list of the state homeschooling organizations, at The Teaching Home.

Do make sure you register with your state. It is important for your own safety (so that no one accuses you of truancy) and for the good reputation of all the homeschool families within your state. Now is a good time to get going on this, so that you don’t come up against any surprises at the last moment.

2.  If possible, join a local homeschool support group, and begin making friends there. Perhaps you already have homeschooling friends who are helping you get started, but connecting with more people with experience under their belts never hurts. Ask lots of questions. Most homeschool veterans are more than happy to take you by the hand and walk you through the process.

3.  Begin deciding what books you will use. Get them ordered soon, to avoid the end-of-summer rush that homeschool curriculum companies tend to experience. Also, having the books in hand for a few weeks before you are ready to start teaching will give you time to familiarize yourself with how the materials are laid out and what to expect.

There are so many choices these days — online programs; correspondence schools which provide accountability, schedule your weekly tasks for you, and do all the grading; publishers who let you choose between ordering a full curriculum package for the year, or who will sell you the individual books and/or video programs you desire.

Some people homeschool using packaged curricula from one publisher and do all the lessons exactly as presented; some use a mixture of publishers; some stick entirely to homeschooling materials they find for free online or at their local library. Every family is different.

My personal feeling is that if you are new to homeschooling, it might be wisest to start out with one publisher for the core classes — language arts, math, science, and social studies. After the first year, when you have a better feel for what you are doing, you may want to branch off and try new things. But having the structure of a full program laid out for you by one curriculum publisher can cut down on frustration and fear of failure when you are a beginner.

Helpful homeschool links (including product review sites)
Homeschool catalog companies listing

For further help in getting started with confidence, you might want to see my website page, Character Building for Families Homeschool Hints. I’ve got some tips there for you, as well as some links to other places with helpful articles.

Over the next few posts, I’ll try to give you more practical ideas to help you get started.

New to Homeschooling? (Record-Keeping Demystified) 

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 4)

Leah drawingHow can we help our children understand the ongoing importance of family in the purposes of God?

1.) Teach them that family is the oldest of institutions, from the time of Adam and Eve. Explain to them the mandate God gave to that first family to fill, subdue, and take territory in the earth. (See Part 1 of this series.)

2.) Show them the thread of God’s plan for family from Abraham to Jesus. (See Part 2 of this series.)

3.) Tell them that family did not start as a new idea at Creation. God, by His very nature, has always thought in terms of family. Two of the Persons of the eternal Trinity relate to each other as Father and Son. Even the angels are sometimes referred to as the sons of God in Scripture.

4.) Instill in your children a love for the Church — because it is the family of God. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:14, 15). Teach them to relate to other people in the body of Christ as brothers and sisters, who should receive our love and respect.

5.) Help them to understand that through Jesus they have become the sons and daughters of their Father in heaven:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:14-17

He is the King of the universe, and therefore they are royalty, and should act the part with grace. Explain to them the responsibilities of royalty and how to carry them out with humility.

6.) Teach them the concept of adoption. Use Romans 8:14-17 again. Adopted children have 100% of the privileges and inheritance rights of biological children. Therefore, what Jesus has is now equally ours as sons and daughters!

7.) Continuously build a sense of their God-given destiny into your children. Help them to develop a consciousness that God has a specific plan for each of them, which has been in place since before they were born — since before the world was born, for that matter.

Our secular humanist society would have them believe that their existence came about as a random toss of chance, and that an amoeba was their ancestor. But God says He knew each one of us before time began.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, those whom He predestinated, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified. – Romans 8:28-30

… He has chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved.Ephesians 1:4-6

Help them to become familiar with Psalm 139. (Memorizing it would be a good idea.)

In this series, I have given you an overview of God’s plan for building His kingdom through family. Grasping it for ourselves and imparting it to our children is a huge task. But if we will ask for His aid, He will expand our understanding of all that it entails.

May you and your family be blessed, as you enter together into partnering with God for the establishment of His kingdom on earth.

Previous — Part 3

Character Building for Families


Character Building for Families



Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 3)

Leah drawingI mentioned in Part 1 of this series that when God created Adam and Eve, He already had planned for the family to be a unit of spiritual warfare. He said they were to have dominion over all the earth, and that word dominion, in the Hebrew, means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.”

The concept of family working together in warfare was well understood by the Israelites. Many sons meant increased strength when an enemy came calling. Psalm 127:4, 5 says, “As arrows in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Now, as then, we have an enemy who comes to “kill, steal, and destroy.” Jesus came, however, so that we “might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is the abundant Life-Giver, but one of the ways we can partner with Him in shedding abroad abundant life is by living out solid family relationships, where Jesus reigns supreme in our homes. At the very least, our children will experience abundant life through the safety and security they enjoy. Beyond that, stable families with happy children are a testimony to nonbelievers that there is something more which they can have as well, if they will give their hearts to the Lord.

Raising children who love Jesus more than life, and who will be willing to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) long after they have left our homes, is not an easy task. Accomplishing that goal is in itself a large component of spiritual warfare. We must depend on the Lord at every step to help us with the task and to rescue us and our children when any of us falter.

Next time, we will talk about some ways we can help our children thrive by giving them an understanding of the purpose of family.

Previous: Part 2
Next: Part 4

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 2)

Leah drawingIn the last post, I laid some foundations concerning God’s purpose for the family. We saw that God clearly stated the family’s mandate in Genesis 1:26-28. We also noted that the family’s critical importance in God’s plan continued to be revealed as a thread throughout the Old Testament. God brought — and is still bringing — His redemptive plan for the earth to fulfillment through Jesus our Lord. Isn’t it interesting that He chose to do that by having Jesus be born into a family! He didn’t have to do that. He could have had Him arrive on the scene in a myriad of other ways, but He chose family as His vehicle. God stays true to His principles and patterns.

How does God’s mandate for families affect us today? How can we fulfill His plan for building His kingdom through our families? Let’s go back to Matthew 28:19, 20, where we started in our last post:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

In our eagerness to evangelize lost people throughout the world, the Church has sometimes neglected to realize that God’s plans generally start at home and move outward — a ripple effect, if you will. In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples, “But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit comes upon you: and you shall be witnesses to Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Their witness was to start at home and spread outward from there. While we’ve been zealous at times to bring the Good News to all nations, we’ve often forgotten to disciple our own families. We have not done well at following God’s pattern.

Furthermore, in 1 Timothy 5:8, the apostle Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” He was speaking of providing materially, but I think we could carry the principle into the realm of the spiritual as well. Many of us have made the mistake of neglecting the spiritual needs of our immediate family for the sake of ministry outside the home. In doing so, we have stepped outside of God’s order. Whenever we fudge on His order, the fruit of our labors is also compromised. The results do not reach the level of excellence which God intended.

So, in discipling all nations and teaching them to observe the Lord’s commands, we must begin at home. It is just as vital to have the Kingdom populated with our own sons and daughters as it is to fill it with converts from outside our families. This is why Paul exhorted the older women to “teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4, 5). We don’t want our children to eventually become reprobates who blaspheme the word of God. Neither do we want nonbelievers blaspheming, due to seeing that our families are a mess. Our families are meant to be a testimony to the greatness of God, just as the family of Israel was meant to show forth His glory in Old Testament times.

That idea of expanding the Kingdom by filling it (in part) with our children has become foreign to our American way of thinking. We’ve been brainwashed for decades into thinking responsible stewardship of the earth means we must play our role in population control. Having more than two children has become exceedingly frowned upon. However, God told Adam and Eve to replenish (fill) the earth (Genesis 1:28). He also said that “children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalm 127:3).

This doesn’t mean that it is more spiritual or blessed to have a large family than a small one. Many of us have not been given large families. Jacob’s son Joseph had only two sons, and yet Genesis 39:21 tells us, “The LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor.” The point is that we must see children as a blessing, not a liability, and that having children who grow up with a passion for the Lord is an excellent way to build God’s kingdom.

More on this subject next time.

 Previous: Part 1
Next: Part 3

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Building God’s Kingdom Through Family (Part 1)

Leah drawingIf you are a believer in Jesus, you are probably familiar with Matthew 28:19, 20, commonly called “the Great Commission”:

Go therefore, and teach [disciple] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

Sadly, while we have often exhorted one another to evangelize and disciple people outside of our immediate families, the Church has not done a great job of helping parents to view their own children as their first mission field.  Leading our sons and daughters into the kingdom of heaven and keeping them there, teaching them how to continually deepen their relationship with Jesus, and imparting to them the ongoing vision of expanding Christ’s influence  — this is a weighty calling for parents, not to be minimized or delegated elsewhere. We need to be fervent in fulfilling this God-given, God-blessed responsibility.

The family is a primary tool in God’s hands for carrying out His purposes in the earth. Because this is so, we have regularly seen Satan attack the family, through the legalization of abortion, the ease and acceptance of divorce, the gradual disapproval of our society toward large families, and government’s desire to parent through the education system. Satan’s latest onslaught is the push to redefine marriage to include any and all deviations from the biblical definition of one man and one woman who are joined together in covenant before the Lord.

God laid out His purpose for family on the first day of man’s existence. Genesis 1:26-28 states it clearly:

And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion … over all the earth ….” So God created man in His own image … male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply; replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

After the worldwide flood, God repeated His original mandate to Noah and his family: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'” (Genesis 9:1).

God’s plan for families has remained the same down through history: be fruitful; multiply; replenish, subdue, and have dominion in the earth.

In Hebrew, the word translated “replenish” in the KJV means to “fill, accomplish, confirm, consecrate, gather (selves, together), flow in fullness, and fence.” I am intrigued by the idea that families were meant to bring consecration to the earth, and to fence it (provide godly boundaries to what goes on there), along with accomplishing God’s purposes and gathering people together – perhaps unto the Lord.

“Dominion” means to “tread down, subjugate, prevail against, rule, reign, and take.” It sounds like what a conquering army would do, doesn’t it? Although everything was perfect at the time of creation, God already knew that man would rebel, thereby  bringing upon the world great evil and dragging mankind into the universal spiritual conflict. Truly, we would have to prevail against our own sinful natures and against the devil. We would have to learn to rule and reign in the face of much opposition. God built into mankind the purpose of spiritual warfare, and He called it forth in the original family, Adam and Eve, before sin had yet entered their world.

The mandate for the family continued as a thread throughout Old Testament history. God called forth a people peculiarly His own through Abraham, and then defined that family more specifically through Isaac and his son Jacob, who became Israel. At each step of the way, hindrances arose to the purposes of family being fulfilled, for Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and so was Isaac’s wife Rebekah. Only through prayer and divine intervention were the obstacles removed, so that God’s chosen family could accomplish His redemptive plan. God promised blessing to all the people of the earth through Abraham, which was fulfilled through Abraham’s “seed” — Messiah Jesus (Galatians 3:8-16). The earth was eventually to be “consecrated” (one of the meanings in that word “replenish”) through Jesus, Abraham’s descendant. We will see the final consecration take place when Jesus returns to earth to restore all things.

Throughout Old Testament times, the people of Israel understood that their purpose was to be a living testimony to God’s reality and faithfulness. They knew that He had said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). Furthermore, He had instructed them to welcome the stranger and give him a place in the land — the understanding being that the stranger would embrace the Israelites’ God and the way in which He was to be worshiped. They did not yet understand the details of how that would all unfold through the Messiah, but they did have the concept of their family being used by God to bring others to know Him.

I have been laying foundation to establish the importance of family, from the very beginning, in the heart of God. Next time, we’ll talk about how we can apply these truths in our time, so that we and our families can fulfill our God-given mandate.

Next: Part 2

Character Building for Families

Character Building for Families

Considering God’s Creation (Curriculum Review)

Considering_Gods_Creation_SetI’d like to share with you a favorite science program out of our homeschooling past — Considering God’s Creation. Authored by sisters Susan Mortimer and Betty Smith, who homeschooled their own children and were themselves homeschooled on the mission field, Considering God’s Creation is a multi-grade level (teach all the kids at once from the same curriculum), semi-hands-on approach to earth and life science.

Like many “written for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers” programs, it is easy to work with, because the authors understand the homeschool lifestyle from personal experience.

Considering God’s Creation is advertised as being suitable for 2nd-7th grade. In my estimation, the ideal age for use is 3rd – 4th grade, but using the “Digging Deeper” suggestions in each lesson for further research projects could extend its usefulness to the older grades as well.

The materials consist of a teacher’s manual with instructions and lecture material in print form, a music CD with songs which correlate with the lessons, and a 270-page PDF student workbook. Because the workbook is delivered as a PDF, you can print as many workbooks as you need for your family. That’s a lot of time, ink, and wear on the printer, but at least you avoid shipping charges. (Tip: Get ink for a fraction of the cost on eBay.)

Rock_thumbThe workbook can be collected into a three-ring binder, and makes a very nice science keepsake notebook when complete. My daughter loved to look through her completed pages again and again, frequently crawling up into her daddy’s lap to share her science book — all without any prompting from Mom!

Twenty-two topics are presented, which will take you one to three years to  cover, if you work through them thoroughly. We needed about two years to complete the curriculum. We enjoyed spending extra time on some of our favorite topics, supplementing with additional materials from the library. (Why hurry, when you’re having fun learning?)

Topics include creation, the universe, earth, light, sound, wind, weather, clouds, rocks, the plant and animal kingdoms, food chains, reproduction and genetics, and human and animal anatomy/physiology.

The materials are decidedly Christian in emphasis, come from a young earth creationist viewpoint, and are full of very well researched information. I was impressed with how comprehensive the lessons were.

I really liked the nice balance between instructional information (lecture material) and hands-on activities. There were no failed experiments  and no turning the kitchen into a science laboratory, where the  countertop is overrun with aquariums and terrariums full of who-knows-what kinds of disgusting creatures and their by-products! The hands-on projects are simple enough for Mom and interesting enough for the kids, so everyone keeps smiling.

Many of the worksheet pages are simple color, cut, and paste activities, or pages to record observations, rather than actual experiments.

I thoroughly liked this program. So did my daughter. We were both a little sad when it was all done.

To sum up, this is an exceptionally well-done science curriculum, easy to use, presenting a worldview which will be acceptable to most Christians, with minimal lesson preparation time for Mom. Parents and their children are both going to like working with Considering God’s Creation.

Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 3)

Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet John 13:5Last time, we began talking about character qualities of good leaders and how to instill them into our children. Here are a few more:

Leaders take initiative. They see where a job needs doing, and they do it. Learning to go ahead and meet the needs before being asked is a huge leadership skill. Aimee Semple McPherson, founder of the Foursquare Church, used to watch for upcoming leaders by leaving crumpled bits of paper lying around and then waiting to see who would notice and pick them up. Learning to take initiative precedes acquiring the skill of delegation.

Leaders inspire others to go higher. Teach your children to encourage others. Start by making a conscious effort to first encourage them. It is easy to miss seeing the things they do right, while consistently pointing out what needs to improve, because we want to put the necessary changes in motion. However, we need to praise them for doing well even more than we correct them. That is not natural to our human nature. The only way to accomplish this shift in our parenting is by persistently asking the Holy Spirit to give us His perspective on our children. “Lord, help me to see them through Your lenses, and open my eyes to what they are doing well.”

We can also inspire our children to go higher by challenging them to tasks or levels of accomplishment which are a little above what they feel capable of. This takes wisdom from the Lord, so as not to expect so much from them that they become overly frustrated. Keep a watchful eye, and be ready to step in and assist them if the task you have assigned to them seems to be stressing them out.

Give your older ones the opportunity to teach younger siblings skills which they have already mastered. Remind them to coach and cheerlead their little brothers and sisters onward. This is a great way to stretch them and help them mature.

Leadership does not involve bullying, tyrannizing, intimidating, manipulating, heavy-handedness, or expecting others to bow down to us.

  • Teach your children to be advocates for one another and for others. Use Jesus, the Elder Brother, as their example. “… We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). An advocate is a champion, supporter, and defender for someone else.
  • Teach them not to boss each other. This can be a task which requires great vigilance!
  • Teach them to give to others with no strings attached.

Instill in your children the concept of sonship. In a properly functioning family, one child is not loved more than another by the parents. So it is in the Kingdom of God. There are no “haves” versus “have-nots.” God does not have favorite children. We are all His favorites. There are no second-class sons and daughters in His family. Some of us are closer to our heavenly Father than others of us, but it is not because He has a love for one more than for another. It is our choice. He gives us equal opportunity for intimate relationship with Him.

Now, I know. The Church has not done very well with the sonship concept. We’ve developed a caste system in our midst, giving preeminence to those more outwardly talented or beautiful, and implying that ministry function determines value of the individual person. Let me just say that this is a problem stemming from our fallen nature. It is not the heart of our Father in heaven.

Someone has to reform the whole mess, and I can’t think of a better way than by  teaching our children where we went wrong and how to operate differently. As we raise up our future leaders in truth, they will influence others for change.

Perhaps the task of raising up a new generation of leaders from within your family seems daunting. Yes, it is — and we can’t accomplish it on our own. I’ve tried to give you a vision for what can be, along with some practical steps to get there. But, as with all our attempts to parent well, the way to success is through leaning on the Holy Spirit for guidance. We can’t possibly form Christ-like character in our children without His insight to help us. Ultimately, even if we are the best parents in the world, He is also the One Who must do the work in our children’s hearts.

So, depend on Him, and follow His leading to the best of your ability. If you do, He will see to producing the fruit in your children.

Previous: Raising Our Children to Be Leaders (Part 2)  


Character Building for Families


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids — Update

HSPrayerKids400A few months ago, we released our e-book,  The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids as a Kindle book, exclusively at Amazon. We’re delighted to have expanded its availability to other e-book retailers as well. You can get your copy at:

Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Coming soon to Oyster and Scribd.

One of our main goals as Christian homeschooling parents is to help our children come into a vibrant relationship with Jesus. We want to give them the tools to help them stand strong in an increasingly wicked society. The key is to help them become prayerful people who hold the truths of God’s Word deeply in their hearts. But, how do we get them there?

The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids presents a simple, step-by-step plan for developing lifelong, consistent prayer and Bible reading habits in your children. From her own experience, Lee Ann Rubsam shares the details of how to lead your children into intimate communion with God through prayer and the Word. If you have the desire to teach your children to pray, but have felt unsure of how to make it a reality in your home, this short book is for you.

E-book only, $1.49 USD