One of the goals of homeschooling is to teach our kids to know what they believe. We don't want them to just have vague ideas of what their beliefs are or lose their set of beliefs when challenged by other ideas as they get older. Not an easy job. But then we all knew that when we signed up for the parenting job - or when God signed us up. Here are some of the things our family does...
When the kids are very young, we teach the basic beliefs. We read the Bible stories. We listen to the Bible on CD. We memorize scriptures. We sing songs with Bible verses in them. We learn a basic catechism. We take long slow walks in nature and ask them Who made the salimander they uncovered beneath a rock. We teach them to obey their parents and to love one another with the love Christ shows us. We share the gospel with them in our daily dealings with them. And Proverbs. We read Proverbs. Alot. Quite a plethora of behavioral topics are contained therein. This is a season where we are painting their idea of everything. We explain it all. Everything from what an amazing creature a butterfly is, to what God is like. And they are listening to your every word and soaking it all in. For the young ones, it's just the facts, ma'am.
And as they are getting older, our aim is for them to know why they believe each particular idea. I have the boys (pre-teen through the early teenaged years) write out some of the Westminster Shorter Catechism in cursive each school day. They write the question, the answer, and one or two of the Bible verses with it's reference. It sounds like alot, but it's really just a few sentences. I refresh their memory almost daily that we do not believe these things because they are written neatly in a catechism. We believe them only as far as they coincide with Biblical teaching. And then, as with the younger age, we talk about every topic under the sun and what the Bible says about it. We just take it to the next level according to their maturity.
The late teenaged years into the early adult years, among many things, are the thinking years. These young adults are fine tuning their belief system. They are making it their own, not their parents'. This season of education is a little less obvious but, nonetheless, gently directive. We still have the responsibility and priveledge to guide our children on toward maturity. Whether it is theology, politics, economics, creation vs. evolution, or church doctrine, it is important for them to be well studied, have good reasoning and biblical principles behind their thinking. They must know why they believe as they do. And we can be there for them, more like a mentor, to bounce their ideas off of. It is especially important that it is a safe place for them to do so. That means alot of listening followed by good questions to get them re-thinking. Yep. That means we even need to learn about evolution so we can decipher it's faulty science with them. Yep. That means when they have a question we need to do some thinking ourselves. Often times, I know what I believe and not why until a question is asked and I need an answer in a meaningful way. A "because I said so" won't do the trick. In order to understand the direction of thinking our children are taking, it might also mean we need to read Harry Potter and watch movies we would not normally watch just so we can talk with them. Even though they might be off to more adult activities and responsibilities, we are still "homeschooling". It just takes on another flavor.