Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Vision of Child Training

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13:11

Today is the first day of school at our house as it is with many other households around the nation. As I was thinking about this being the beginning of our 10th year home schooling I look back and realize just how much each of my children have matured and grown in wisdom over these few short years. Yes, they have been short now that I look back at them, but that doesn't mean at times I was ready to give up, to despair about the lack of progress I was seeing, or to thinking that training my children to be the godly young people I imagined was completely beyond hope – those were the long days which at least at this point have been mostly forgotten.

The goal for educating my children at home with specific purposes to grow them in character and wisdom were always my vision, but that does not mean we have not had difficult or disappointing circumstances along this journey we call home educating. At times I have had to completely remove my thoughts from failed curriculum, from unmotivated children, and from circumstantial upsets in our family that have made me question my sanity in teaching my children and in thinking that we may ever reach the goal we are striving for.

As I come across the verse above from 1 Corinthians 13:11 last night after having set up the school book piles on the dining room table in preparation for today, I realized that this one verse encapsulates the entire progression of events I am partnering with God on as He moves each of my children from their childish ways to the ways of young adults who will eventually put away their previous natures away and move onto more purposeful kingdom work. The reminder that the work of moving my children from the one end of the spectrum to the other is not my work, but rather it is God's work to do in each of my children is always a good reminder to keep before myself. My job as their mother and their teacher is only to seek out God and to help facilitate their growth through the training I am allowed to give each of them each day - it is God who is in charge of perfecting their training and making them fit the ultimate vision He has for each of them.

The ups and downs of instructing children bring great joy and great disappointment I have to say. But, when we realize that the steps our children need to take to become the men and women God wants them to be, then we find a great peace and a great freedom open up before us in how we view the daily tasks we do with them and how each of those things will eventually lead our children into the vision we have seen God set before them.

Instruction for our children has a balance that I think for me has been the most difficult part of my job as I stared out with the preconceived notion that the work done in their books was the most important of their daily tasks and the rest of their “fun” activities were just side things that at times I just need to tolerate. But, God is not One who instructs us in being all work and no play, especially for children. There is a place for rejoicing and doing things that cheer our hearts at all levels of our life and our growth in the Lord. On the flip side too there are times that we have to learn through the mistakes we make and the sorrow that is brought into our lives from the sinful nature of ourselves, others, and just of our world in general. All of those things added up together are what shape us and our children into people ready to work for and serve the Lord.

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart,
And in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment.
Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
And put away evil from your flesh,
For childhood and youth are vanity.
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come...”
Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:1a

So, as you look at this year ahead and have great plans for your children and what they will learn in school(be it home school, public school, or private school), remember that the book learning and classroom instruction are only developing part of your child this year. Do not allow those side roads your family and you child are led down make you think you are failing to raise your child the way God would want you to. Those disruptions to your schedule may be exactly what God needs to mold your child into the person He is growing him/her into this year.

I just want to share a personal story on these lines as I close off my blog today. Two years ago we started our school year with the addition of 3 special needs foster children. In no way was teaching these little ones in addition to my older three a perfect situation to carry out any sensible teaching model for any of them let alone just one of them. My older children had to do more self study than I had ever required of them and my oldest thrived in that year in taking ownership of his schooling. For my youngest, she got by with her book work but she grew by leaps and bounds in learning how to use her gifts of encouragement and teaching as she helped me a lot with the foster children.

But then there was my middle child who slunk deeper and deeper into a state of depression as the year progressed. He has hit the hardest by our situation and he really did not learn much book work that year. Was the year a loss for him though? As it turned out God grew that child more than the rest when we standardized tested each child at the end of the year plus he also had learned more about his own nature and about God's faithfulness than any book could have ever taught him. Yes, we had to back track a bit on his book work to make sure we filled any gaps that his brain during that year did not process. (A depressive state has a selective memory and knowing that I made sure we did not just move forward before taking the time to go back and make sure he was moving ahead in complete confidence of his skills.)

That year of schooling did not match any curriculum I had planned, wanted, or even at the time foresaw as effective in teaching toward my goal in raising godly children, but God in His wisdom did. I hope this story and this blog today have encouraged you and have prepared your heart for the year you look towards with hope and expectation of a wonderful year of growth for your children. I know that as I look at our year ahead I need only look to God and I know in full confidence that each of my children will reach the potential of the vision He has set in growing them up to their full stature in Him because He is faithful all the time.

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