Post written by Ed Miller of the National Center for Biblical Parenting
I spend a lot of time interacting with homeschool parents at conventions, through parent coaching and on social media. My wife Joanne and I homeschooled our boys all the way through and now they are mature, loving and responsible adults. We’ve walked on a similar road to the one you’re traveling right now. Time and again we hear parents tell us that they struggle the most with the issues of parenting, character development and relationships in the family. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of homeschooling that we can forget the big picture. Why are we homeschooling or for that matter, why are we raising a family? It’s so easy to lose sight of the forest because of all the trees.
Many parents are not asking this question. It’s actually quite a challenge to get parents to read a book or attend an event on this. Some parents are afraid that they’ll be shamed at an event or just feel worse after reading a book because their shortcomings will be laid bare. Others are surviving from day to day in their busy life, so it’s easier to just press on and not stop to examine their approach. Of course, there are more and more parents who are reaching the breaking point and just calling out to us for HELP! Where do you fit in this picture?
We want you to move beyond surviving to thriving in your parenting. This is a good reason to take time to examine your approach. Socrates is known to have said, “The unexamined life is not worthy to be lived!” That’s a very strong statement, but critical for us to hear in this fast-paced world of the 21st Century. The Bible encourages us to take a weekly sabbath and jubilee years. There’s a tradition of the sabbatical in education and ministry. So shouldn’t parents, who are arguably doing the most important job in the world, take periods of time for reflection and examination?
Homeschooling is Heart Work
At the National Center for Biblical Parenting, we believe there is nothing of greater importance than training the heart of your child and developing their character as fully devoted and faithful followers of Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re raising children. Math, reading, writing, history, music, sports, drama, etc. are all important, but nothing is more important than shaping the character of our children. Homeschooling is heart work.
So let me encourage you to start with a time of reflection and examination on the FOCUS of the work you do with your children. The most common focus today in education, psychology and parenting is BEHAVIOR. In an effort to help people overcome destructive and addictive behaviors, Pavlov discovered some effective techniques that could be used to modify behavior. He was able to make dogs salivate on cue even when there was no food present. These techniques are effective in changing behavior. When used as the primary means of training with children, this approach also has some unintended negative effects.
Behavior modification works because it uses the selfishness in a person’s heart. It teaches a child to ask the wrong questions about life. They ask, “What’s in this for me?” It actually magnifies the selfishness in a child’s heart. A child may make a change in their actions in order to avoid a punishment or gain a reward, but they may not change their heart. And we need to continue to up the ante in order for a child to comply with our instructions. Most importantly, they may not learn to ask the more necessary question, “Is this the right thing to do?”
Homeschooling a Child’s Heart
Where is your focus?
BEHAVIOR? OR HEART?
If you want to train the heart of your child and develop an internal motivation to do what’s right, we’d be happy to help you get started. If you want to shape their character that lasts for a lifetime, focus on the heart. There are a series of articles on out blog called “Parent the Heart.” This will help you learn some of the basics of how to train the heart.
If you want more, I suggest that you download and read a FREE eBook that explains how you can develop a plan to deal with any problem in any child of any age. The secret is focusing on a heart quality and then working with your child to develop greater ownership of their own growth and development. You’ll see miracles happen in your family. Download it today.
Finally, if you want someone to walk with you on this journey and hold you accountable, we have Biblical Parenting Coaches standing by.
This is day 15 of my Homeschooling 101 Blog Series … I’m so glad you are here! Don’t miss all the other posts. Oh and don’t forget to join the exclusive Facebook group to chat it up with other homeschooling mamas in our amazing and growing community!
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Ed is a husband of 35 years and father of 2 grown homeschooled sons. He serves as the Director of Development for the National Center for Biblical Parenting; the leader of the Family Ministry Consultation Team and a content presenter. Being a good parent, husband and follower of Jesus Christ are important values in Ed’s life. He also loves coaching young people, coaching sports and coaching parents!