By Contributing Writer, Terry Covey
When considering the most important lessen I’ve learned in home educating for the last 22 years, I must revisit the reality that it’s not about academics. “Yikes,” some of you are saying! Don’t fret. Those are important, but the most important lesson we teach our children is how to think. It’s that simple! But it takes work.
Really think about the myriad of meanings for this word.
Think – to form a mental picture; the processes of logical thought; to exercise the powers of reason or judgement; to weigh or consider an idea; to use one’s mind actively to form connected ideas; to call to mind in thought; to have the mind engaged in reflection; to have a view or opinion; to have concern, to contemplate, ponder, meditate; to determine; to devise…
Oh, yes. There are thousands of things our children must learn and hundreds of subjects to share with them, but the main consideration is that they know how to use the amazing brain the good Lord gave them!
There is the inescapable reality that a person can hold several degrees and yet be incapable of making wise choices in life. He might earn a good income, but there really is more to life than money! One can know all there is to know about physics and yet be unable to manage his own household. A person can study math until the cows come home, and yet not be able to control his own spending habits or consider the possibilities for resolving the relational trials that come from financial hardship.
So it’s not only about the diploma or the degree, but understanding how to use that knowledge on a daily basis.
You see, the education the world believes is all important is not the end-all. It’s really about being able to solve problems. To resolve conflicts. To stay the course when life takes you on a detour. It’s about understanding the complexity, along with the simplicity, of the Word of God and how it relates to life.
Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; For it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips. so that your trust may be in the Lord, I have taught you today, even you. Proverbs 22:17-19
Teaching Children How to Process
The most important thing I can teach my children is how to process things for themselves. And this begins by processing the details, frustrations, and intricacies of the physical world and of the relationships right in front of them.
For our children’s formative years, we are their examples:
- They listen as we use communication skills in real life, not just on paper.
- They observe as we maneuver the finances of our modern world – making frugal use of ‘deals’, buying and selling goods, and even in the simple way we communicate with store clerks about pricing, sales, and damaged goods.
- They gain many skills as we share emails and texts, observing how the written word can be confusing and misinterpreted. We all know how that goes!
- Our children can learn real-life physiology from watching a cat give birth, or caring for an orphaned bird, or from cleaning a fish for dinner.
- The old adage says to “teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Add to that, hunting or gardening. These life skills offer far more rewards than having their food miraculously appear on the dinner table.
- Our children can understand the ways of business, not just by getting an MBA, but by working for neighbors, being creative, and selling their wares to the community. Discover the benefits of entrepreneurship together!
- They can develop a heart for counseling by sharing in the life of those in their family, community, or church. They learn this by watching us do the same.
Please remember that these abilities are taught in person, by having our children alongside us. We must be deliberate if we are to pass on the many skills of life to our children. If they only pass their time of day with peers, they will be limited to learning to that level. But as they observe, and discuss, and practice alongside their parents, they will be ready for the challenging issues of life in the adult world.
Having the ability to process information, communicate details, and solve problems – to think – is the most important lesson in a home educated child’s life. Carry on!
(Read more on how our family has done this in my posts: Building Up Without Burning Out – Growing Children Into Adults series and Breaking The Mold For Raising Responsible Adults)