By Contributing Writer, Stephani
Upon graduation I had four younger siblings. Now I have six. Two of my sisters have graduated high school, another sibling is in junior high, and the three youngest are all under the age of 6! You guessed it… my parents will be homeschooling for years to come…
Impacting the Next Generation…
Perhaps you are in a similar season of life. You’ve graduated. Opportunities for Kingdom advancement abound. What are your goals? There are countless worthwhile endeavors! Have you considered how the Lord might also use you to impact the next generation for His glory – in your own home?
There is a battle to be fought and, by God’s grace, a family to fight alongside. We have been given God-designated teammates to run through this life with – our siblings! Are you building them up, cheering them on?
As I think back on my years of home education, several individuals stand out as major investors of time, prayer, mentorship, and joy in the formation of my education and discipleship. I am so grateful for them. By God’s grace, their investments impacted my heart in eternal ways. How might God use you and me as eternal investors in the lives of the next generation of students… our own siblings?
Let’s look at three aspects of Joyfully Investing in Younger Siblings’ Education:
1) the BIG PICTURE of family involvement
2) PRACTICAL ways to serve
3) keeping our EYES on the GOAL…
Think BIG PICTURE —
- God’s incredible purposes and plans are unfolding around you every day. You and your siblings were purposefully placed by God in the same family for eternal purposes. Instead of resenting dirty faces, irritating habits, and extra work, look with Christ’s eyes. Do you see the gifts, abilities, and skills that the Lord has given to your brothers and sisters for His glory?
- Enjoy working as a team with your parents. As adults we are to put childish ways behind us and strive for maturity in Christ. This includes our relationships with our parents. They have poured out much of their lives for us. Even as adults, we are still their daughters and will be blessed if we honor them in our heart and actions. Ask their advice, embrace their guidance, be transparent with them about your struggles, and work towards making them two of your dearest friends on earth.
- A significant element of education is discipleship. As you invest in your siblings’ education, set an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity, keeping your eyes on Jesus (1 Timothy 4:12, Hebrews 12:1, 2). Also, encourage your siblings to view their education as part of their increasing knowledge of God.
- REMEMBER – We will never be able to rightly invest in our siblings’ lives apart from Christ. He tells us in His Word that we can’t do ANYTHING of eternal significance in a way that pleases our Heavenly Father apart from HIM (John 15:5). On the other hand, when we are living by faith in Him nothing is impossible! Abide in Him. Delight in Him. Rejoice in Him.
Think PRACTICALLY —
Investments in our siblings’ lives will look very different from family to family, year to year.
Caution! – The goal of our lives should not be to complete a “graduated girls” check list, live like “so-and-so,” or to do “this-and-that.” Humbly seek God’s direction for what good works He has prepared for you. Guard your heart against legalism. Christ is to be our ALL-in-ALL. Let’s abide in His glorious gospel, not a “formula” for successful living.
Below are a handful of practical ways my sisters and I have invested in our siblings’ education over the last few years as graduated daughters. Remember – you are unique and so is your family. Think creatively!
- School Planning - Is your mom able to have focused periods of school preparation? How could you help to secure time for her to plan? Is there a park, gym, or museum where you could offer to take your siblings for an afternoon?
- Teaching “little ones” - Embrace the opportunity to invest in your littlest siblings’ education by digging into a subject your parents want them to study. If your parents allow you to choose any subject, consider teaching something you find interesting. You could even use music to study. Little people often love dancing to songs, learning hand motions, and presenting what they have learned to others. Two of my youngest siblings and I worked on memorizing the Presidents in order, as well as the names and locations of the 50 U.S. states using memory songs. It was a simple way to daily peck away at a big project. It ended up being a great way to study with them!
- Study with the “older ones” - Siblings who are in middle school, junior high, or high school may need to study particular subjects you personally enjoyed in school. You could chart out the course, aid them when they have questions, and grade any homework necessary. Enthusiasm does wonders. When they see your passion and excitement for learning, ordinary subjects take on new meaning!
- Active Participation - What activities, competitions, or projects are your siblings involved with? Is there a way that you could encourage their participation or enhance their experience by becoming more involved?
Behind-the-scenes – How can you be involved in their extra-curricular activities in a way that won’t draw attention to yourself, but will show your siblings how much you love them and support what they are doing?
Competitions – Can you make time to help your siblings improve, practice, prepare, etc. for competitions?
Encouragement – Little notes tucked into your siblings’ shoes, or little “surprises” given in recognition of a project well done – these acts of love go a lot further than you may realize!
- Sticky Situations… Can you identify times during the week when homeschooling seems to get sticky, cumbersome, or overwhelming for your family? Think about how you might be able to alleviate some of the tension by serving in some way.
For example… preparations to help siblings get out the door on time, bagged lunches prepared in advance, homework help before upcoming deadlines, activities for high-energy siblings, aiding nap time routines, etc.
- Play Time & Chores - While your mom and a few siblings attend co-op classes, music lessons, speech meetings, etc. consider spending time with little ones at home: going on walks, doing preschool activities, doing simple physical exercises, tidying the house, etc.
If you decide to do some house-cleaning projects while you have little people, make chores fun by allowing everyone to choose a new name. Use a British accent and become a world-renowned “cleaning crew.”
- Chauffeur! - The possibilities are endless. Music lessons, speech meets, co-op classes, therapy appointments, orthodontist check-ups, etc…
Time in the car with siblings can be a great time for you to catch up on their lives, ask how their relationship with the Lord is, find out how you can be praying for them, listen to an audio book, or just laugh together as you recall silly antics of little siblings…
- Breakfast…Lunch…Dinner… Would your mom be blessed if you handled meal preparations a couple of days each week so that she could focus on homeschooling? Consider using this opportunity to learn how to meal plan on a budget, efficiently, tastefully, and joyfully!
- Edifying Words That HONOR Your Parents - Well-placed, encouraging words are treasures! What do your words accomplish in your relationship with your parents? Do they inspire or discourage your parents’ vision? How you comment on school schedules, your parents’ goals, their investments of time, etc. will affect the atmosphere of your home.
Take opportunities to share in your parents’ enthusiasm for homeschooling. Use your words to joyfully honor their ideas and rally the troops!
Take note of your mom and dad’s daily sacrifices and thank them – in front of your siblings! Your parents will be really blessed by your loving words and your siblings’ attitudes may begin to reflect more gratitude as they notice the sacrificial love of your parents!
What If My Parents Don’t Need Help Homeschooling? What If I Don’t Have Any Younger Siblings?
Are there other homeschooling families in your area who have their hands full? Moms with lots of “little people” are often SO INCREDIBLY blessed by a few hours of responsible child care. And your example and investment in the children’s lives can be exceedingly worthwhile!
Put Yourself in Their Shoes – Offer to spend an afternoon each week at their home, allowing the Mom some quiet time to school plan, catch up on paperwork, have quiet devotional time, run errands, etc. You could organize appropriate crafts, games, outside activities, make a special dinner for the family, or practice and perform a drama presentation with everyone!
Families & Disabilities – Do you know a family who has children with disabilities? Offer to clean, cook, watch children, homeschool, or do activities with their disabled children. This could be a wonderful opportunity to show a family that you care about them and are so thankful for their Christ-like example.
Illness & Home Education – Consider spending time with a sibling group whose Mom is battling morning sickness, caring for a newborn, or ill. You may be able to help a family pursue their vision for home education by volunteering a few hours each week to help the children with their homework.
Keeping our EYES on the GOAL
Friends often come and go. Your siblings’ lives remain woven into yours.
The “little people” who surround you now will, Lord willing, be the very ones you are shoulder-to-shoulder with in the fight of faith years down the road! By God’s grace, the seeds of love and truth you sow in your siblings’ lives can bear real, eternal fruit.
Consider how our Father’s name might be glorified as you Joyfully Invest in Younger Siblings’ Education!