By Vyckie Bennett
This past weekend our family joyfully celebrated the high school graduation of our oldest daughter, Angel, who has been educated at home since age four. There were six home-school graduates from the Norfolk, Nebraska, area -- this is the first year that we've had more than one or two home-schooled seniors -- so the families all got together and had an official graduation ceremony complete with "Pomp and Circumstance," caps and gowns, the works.
The graduates put a lot of work into their ceremony, which was a testimony to the blessings and effectiveness of home schooling. Sarah, one of the graduates, prepared a PowerPoint presentation with pictures of her fellow graduates, ranging from birth to the present and concluding with group photos of the girls, who have grown up together and have developed strong friendships through various home-school group field trips, co-op classes, and other activities.
After the ceremony, several young home-schooling moms told me that these seniors -- who are firm in their convictions, have not rejected or rebelled against their families' Christian values, are able to think logically and independently, have maintained their physical and emotional purity, and have developed mature, personal relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ -- are encouraging examples of the rewards which home-schooling parents can expect to reap from the time, energy, prayers, and sacrifice which they are now sowing into the soil, which is their children's lives.
That's Nice ... but How Will Home-Schooled Kids Cope in the "Real World"?
This is a silly question when you really think about it. I understand the concern that children need to be properly socialized -- to learn to get along with others, fulfill obligations, work cooperatively with others to accomplish a given task, etc. The truth is ... our homes ARE the "Real World." At Creation, God established families to socialize individuals to build a cohesive, functional society. Godly families have incredible influence. Few Christians realize how powerful an influence their families have on those around them. John 13:35 says, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if you have love one to another."
What better environment to discover what real Agape love is all about than in the setting in which Christ-like behavior is the most difficult to practice: our own homes? It's easy to be kind and courteous as we interact briefly with friends, neighbors and co-workers -- we put on our "happy face" and politely respond, "Fine" to the obligatory how-are-yous of those whom we know do not have time, nor genuine interest, for an honest assessment of our personal well-being. At home, it's different. Our family sees us not only at our best, but also at our worst -- when we are tired, moody, burned-out, stressed out -- they know when our hearts are not right before God and, sadly, they often suffer the affliction of our spiritual malcontent.
Home -- God's University
It is in the home where God educates His saints -- our spouses, parents, children, siblings are most often His appointed "professors" -- and uses the circumstances of day-to-day living as His "curriculum" to teach valuable lessons which will prepare us to do His work in His way (see Deut. 6:6-9). Our Father is more concerned about our inward character than our outward achievement. Notice the "scope and sequence" of His educational objectives: "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, and to virtue knowledge" (2 Peter 1:5).
This is not to depreciate academic preparation for Christian students -- but how much more effective will their Kingdom service be if they learn not only math, but marital harmony? Not just science, but sacrifice and self-control? How about history plus humility? Grammar and geography, yes -- but let them also learn gratitude, generosity, and hw to exercise their spiritual gifts. It is great if our children understand chemistry -- but it is essential that they have compassion for the lost. A Christian student must not only learn to speak well, but they must always speak the Truth in Love.
If we are too busy to spend time with our families, we will fail God's most important assignments. Today's culture offers many enticing "extracurricular activities" to distract us: entertainment, consumerism, even many worthy causes which keep our schedules too full to devote sufficient attention to His lesson plans. Often we are tempted to ditch "class" altogether, spending our time instead surfing the Internet, viewing pornography, gambling, etc. Sadly, drug and alcohol abuse, premarital sex, the breakdown of the family, and other tragedies lead many of the Lord's students to drop out of His program.
The enemy is working very hard to destroy the righteous because he knows godly families are the foundation of a godly nation. The world is also working against us -- we are surrounded by influences and teachings which do not encourage strong relationships in the family. The good news is many Christian parents are rising to the challenge -- no more excuses, no more denial. In obedience to God's commands we are teaching His Word diligently to our children when we sit at home and when we walk by the way, when we lie down and when we rise up.
The home-school graduating class of 2004 attests to the veracity of God's promise: "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor, and life" (Proverbs 22:4).
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