Homeschooling: What Are We to Teach Our Children?

Even the most avid homeschool family stops periodically and asks, “Are we teaching our children the right things?”  Heavily swayed by outside pressures and our own influence by the state’s agenda, Christians easily lose focus of our educational responsibility before the Lord.

R.C. Sproul Jr. has written one of my favorite books–a book I think every family needs to read and then revisit several times a year. When You Rise Up “cuts through the haze surrounding the educational debate by offering a biblical approach that is elegantly simple without being simplistic.”  (Greg Harris)

I am always recharged and inspired when I pick it up.  I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from the book:

“We don’t start with the state’s curriculum, and then attempt to find a Bible passage to justify each part.  Rather, we start with the Bible and go from there, learning evermore of who God is, of what he has done and of what he requires of us…..”

Sproul takes a practical look at Scripture and explains its rock solid instructions for telling parents how to educate their children for “the good life”.  And the methodolgy?

“Here is how God wants us to educate our children–he wants us to talk to them.”

No, Sproul doesn’t throw out formal learning or text books.  But he rightly challenges us to get our priorities in order as we follow God’s curriculum.

“Why do we teach our children to read?  Most people, if they are honest, would explain that their children need to learn how to read so they can get a good job.  That it’s a tool for personal peace and affluence….we ought to teach our children to read so they can know God better.”

He describes the three G’s–what the Christian’s goals of education should be: teaching our children who God is, what God has done, and what He requires of us.

Another word that really hit home to me…(paraphrased)

“All parents DO teach their children ‘when they lie down and when they rise up’.  Psychologists say, ‘more is caught than taught’. Whether by abdication or diligence, whether we delegate our job or not, we are always teaching our children what is important about life.”

and…

“…we blend together the worship of the true and living God with personal peace and affluence….we cut God this deal:  ‘Lord, we know you are the master of all things.  We know you are the lawgiver.  So what we’re going to do, while we worship personal peace and affluence, we’re going to serve that God in accordance with your law. You will give us ethics, but the other god will give us purpose. We will pursue the world’s vision of the good life, but we’ll pursue it without stealing or committing adultery. We’ll pursue it, but we’ll be sure to pay our tithes along the way.”

I could quote the whole book, but there are babies to teach and housework to be done.

I would challenge you, as you embrace this awesome task, to wipe the slate clean of preconceieved ideas and go to the Scripture to find out how we are to teach these children.  Look to Jesus for his example.  Teach them history which begins in Genesis and “continues through to today’s morning paper”.

And one last word from Sproul:

“We are doomed to fail if we don’t teach our children why we teach our children, so that they in turn will teach our grandchildren.”

When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul Jr.

Think Outside the Classroom

$6.97  Add to Cart

Are you a homeschooling mother who worries that you aren’t “doing enough”? Are you thinking of homeschooling but feel afraid that you aren’t qualified? If so, read more…

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28 Responses to “Homeschooling: What Are We to Teach Our Children?”

  1. Jacinda says:

    Sproul’s book is on our list of homeschooling favorites too! Along with “Upgrade: Ten secrets to the best education for your child” by Kevin Swanson. They’re both keepers for sure. Thanks for reminding us about the goal in this whole endeavour.

  2. Yes!! So true!

    I have that book and have not read it yet! It will definitely be pulled from the shelf today. Timberdoodle.com gave it away for a while as their “free book” with orders.

    Thank you–I look forward to reading it.

  3. Kim M says:

    I have never read it, but I have heard him interviewed on the subject. I think a lot of Christians think, “Yeah, yeah, I know, I know.” However I don’t think many REALLY get it. It’s more than just that little verse on top of the ABeka math paper. It gets down the the all day Deut. 6:9 stuff where every aspect of life is taught through a Scriptural point of view.
    Thank you for the book review; I’ll have to read it!

  4. Dana says:

    I really don’t think that most people think learning to read is just a tool for making more money, unless he is just talking about the most basic functional literacy. Reading, even for the non-Christian, is a way to develop your thinking and come into contact with the wider world (in time and space). Sure, a lot of people are just interested in making money, but I see a tension between that and reading, rather than a link. For instance, the number of college students who say things like, “Why should I take a history or literature class? It isn’t USEFUL.” What they mean is, reading WON’T help them make money.

    Why can’t he encourage Christian parents without drawing false dichotomies?

    • Word Warrior says:

      He isn’t drawing a false dichotomy.

      First, I wasn’t able to quote the whole paragraph, which leaves some ambiguity.

      He mentioned some other reasons, as you did: “Reading, even for the non-Christian, is a way to develop your thinking and come into contact with the wider world”

      which is still a “tool for personal peace and affluence” and not supremely for the glory of God.

  5. Alissa says:

    Thank you for this! I am learning this concept on a daily basis. I am trying to transfer my ‘public school’ upbringing into homeschooling my own children and more and more I am understanding that this isn’t the way to do it. We definitely need to prioritize what the important things are for our kids to learn…God’s Word…and supplement that with textbook education (not the other way around). I may go look up this book!

  6. Brandy says:

    I’d never heard of this book, but it’s on our wishlist now. Awesome quotes. Even had to read the post to my husband, who thought they were awesome too. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Kelly L says:

    Those are amazing points. Thanks, definitely looking for this book. Is it too much to hope that the library will have it? Maybe when I am done, I’ll donate it so they will!

    • Lori says:

      Just so you know, dontated books don’t always make it into circulation. Often they’re just sold for a dollar or two at the library sale to raise money, in which case you’re better off just loaning it out to all your friends yourself. You might want to ask first. Just a thought.

  8. Becky says:

    This is o.t., but does anyone have a resource (or personal advice) for dealing with an overly competitive child? My 5 year old makes EVERYTHING a competition. She wants to be smarter, faster, “better”, than her younger brother and all her friends. She always “has” to win at everything. I just don’t know how to change that. My husband had the idea that we would try letting our son always be first at everything, but then he began developing an attitude that he HAD to be first. We tried letting them take turns being “first”, but that just bred arguements over whose turn it was to be first. Help?

    • Kelly L says:

      Becky, what has always helped us is to give a verse to let our girl know what God thinks about striving. The word of God is sharper than a double edged sword and will remove all the junk from the heart better than our cleverly devised words. Hope these help. (I would also have them watch an activity on the sidelines that would allow them to cheer for one another, so they can learn to find joy in another’s accomplishments, too.

      Philippians 2:3 … Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in
      humility, let each esteem others better than themselves: …

      Galations 5:16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

      25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    • Also, you may already do this, but ask her why she likes to “win.” You can help her to learn, even at five, to begin to discern the motives of her heart. Does she: like being the best, like beating someone else, like doing her very best, etc. Her answer determines your next question, leading her to understanding the situation from her point of view, God’s point of view, and the point of view of the “loser.” Sometimes, kids just don’t understand how to view things from the perspective of another. Especially at five years old.

  9. Charity says:

    Thank you so much for mentioning this book. I’m going to see if I can swagbuck-it from amazon.com.

    I wish I could take all of this in without chocking. Having a hard time swallowing the phrase “teaching our children who God is, what God has done, and what He requires of us.” I haven’t learned all of that…how can I teach these little sponges?? I feel *so* blessed with the children that God has given, and is giving us, yet I feel so unworthy and unprepared! Having children is so much more than a baby book, cute clothes, and family pictures to hang on the wall. Sometimes I just wonder why God trusts us? I don’t want to let Him down.

    • R. F. says:

      Oh Charity, I know exactly how you feel! I feel so inadequate to be teaching them about God, when I hardly know him myself! I have been a Christian for most of my life, but I feel like I am just beginning to scratch the surface of who he is and what he requires of us.

    • What a precious heart! As a Mom, I believe that is exactly where the Lord wants you. When we truly understand the enormity of our task, the power of our influence, and the ripples into eternity, we become more and more dependent on Him!! He KNOWS I can’t mother seven children, and yet He has promised to give me everything I need to accomplish His will and bring Him glory. As we cry out to Him for wisdom, discernment, understanding, patience, etc., etc., etc., He abundantly provides. The fruit He will bear through your faithful obedience to mother these precious ones will amaze you. I know! My oldest is 23, all the way down to a 10 year old! EEEEEKKKK!!!

    • wannabegodly says:

      I heartily “amen” the previous replies to you, Charity, and would add some comments of a more practical nature, too. Obviously, read the Bible with your children (or Bible stories, depending on their ages). We like to take turns by each one who is old enough to read smoothly reading a paragraph. We usually read two chapters every morning. Then study history to see how God has worked through the ages. We particularly enjoy the Truthquest History Guides as Michelle Miller leads us through the important events and people as well as bringing out their belief systems and how God dealt with them. Her commentaries are incredibly deep though sometimes sappily written. Then I’d suggest you study nature, starting with creation to see how our mighty God has expressed His creativity, much for our enjoyment. You’ll be amazed at how much you, the “teacher”, learn with your “students”. R.C. Sproul, Jr.’s father has also written many theological books & has CDs & DVDs designed to be understandable by the “common man” which might be helpful in your own growth.

  10. Katie Grace says:

    I just ordered two of these books – one for me and one for a sweet friend whose birthday is next week. She just started HS her three and I think this would be a great resource of encouragement for her.

    Also, people look at me strange when I tell them that we homeschool. My girls are 21/2 and 16 months. But I’m already teaching them so much everyday! Just this morning my oldest was reviewing her colors. She thinks pink and red are both pink. She ran up to me and excitedly proclaimed “Mama, I have pink hair!” She’s a redhead.

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  12. Renata says:

    What a great sounding book – I shall have to take note of it as it sounds like somethingI I need to read for encouragement!

  13. Love this book – it is one to read over and over – especially on those days when everyone is a little crazy (including, maybe especially Mama). Keeps things in the right perspective.

  14. wannabegodly says:

    I’m inspired to get out my copy and read it again – it’s been over a year!

  15. Jamie says:

    This is one of my favorite books as well. I most recently leant it to a somewhat younger couple at our church who is thinking about homeschooling. I wrote about this book on my blog. The post is called Reasons We Homeschool and Curriculum Choices-http://pursuingtheoldpaths.blogspot.com/2010/08/reasons-we-homeschool-and-curriculum.html

    This book changed the way I thought about parenting and homeschooling.

  16. Niki says:

    Absolutely love this book! It is one of the ones that influenced our decision to homeschool our children “for good”. It is a book that you will want to read over and over again and have on hand when you need some quick inspiration or you just need to be reminded of “why am I doing this again?”. I am so thankful to the friend who loaned it to me years ago!

  17. Jennifer says:

    He sure has some weird ideas about a small girl’s responsibility to her siblings, though.

  18. Emily says:

    Hey Kelly. I just finished this book a few weeks ago. Awesome awesome book. I liked it so much I am going to give one away on my blog next week. Do you mind if I like to your comments on the book?

    Much love,
    Emily

  19. Jennifer says:

    I really liked Sproul’s book “The Lightlings”, even as an adult. Some parents complained it might be confusing to kids, because they might not be able to tell the fairies in the book from angels. I felt like telling those folks kids could probably tell the difference better than grownups!

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