Now, compare those warm, relational childhood memories with your current experience in homeschooling. If you are anything like me (ouch!), you have probably been struggling to keep a smile on your face and anger out of your voice when you notice your 10-year-old decorating his math paper with peanut butter, your 15-year-old rolling her eyes at the literature book that came so highly recommended, or your 6-year-old doodling instead of decoding. Being relational does not mean becoming falsely angelic or faking a smile, but it does mean extending your emotions to your child instead of to the assignment. In real life, that would mean dialogue and interaction, like asking with real interest—not cynicism—whether his math paper is improved now; whether she sees any hope for the lit book; or whether the reading lesson would be easier after lunch.

How this desire to have warm relationships translates into educational reality with our flesh-and-blood kids is one of the most profound lessons a homeschool parent will ever learn. Children—unlike fairy tale fiction or high-tech robots—are unique individuals made in the image and likeness of God. They have strengths and weaknesses, quirks and talents, and they are constantly changing and growing up toward maturity. With the immense challenges this provides, we need to recognize that it takes time and experience to sort out how each of our children is wired to learn and how to best provide the environment for each one’s success. For both parents and students, it must include grace, laughter, honesty, and a willingness to be teachable.

In my twenty years of homeschooling, and the many years since, I have discovered that there are insightful Scriptures that apply and real-life experiences to share that will help. We will explore these through this column, with the goal of creating relationships where we honor, respect, trust, love, and enjoy one another. In that remarkable place of safety, freedom, and love, our beloved children will be set free to flourish in learning . . . and in life.

Diana Waring, author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest, and History Revealed curriculum, discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the 80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high school—providing the real-life opportunities to learn how kids learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was to honor Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, B. A. in French), Diana has been enthusiastically received by audiences on four continents.

Publication date: September 17, 2012