Beyond the Books
- Betsy St. Amant Contributing Writer
- 2004 17 Dec
There are many things I learned during the course of my home-schooled years. I learned algebra (slowly but surely!) and perfected my multiplication tables. I memorized passages of scripture for Bible class and passed quizzes on American history. I read literature and now possess the ability to quote many poems word for word. However, the most important subjects I studied were not found in one of my textbooks.
I learned many lessons in Humility 101. I passed (and failed!) quite a few tests in Patience. I was taught Giving and Generosity and sought a minor in Honor and Trust. I studied Love, Contentment and Kindness. After graduating, I realized these were the courses I would carry with me forever.
Right now, I might not be able to tell you the sixth President of the United States. I might hesitate to list the capitals of the fifty states in alphabetical order. I might not remember the year World War II started. But I do remember the lessons instilled into me by my parents, who realized that teaching went a lot further than the textbook.
Today, I do remember sharing my toys. I could tell you about the time I talked to my very best friend about Jesus Christ. I could go on and on about the numerous occasions in which I held my tongue when I wanted to say something I shouldn't, or about the times when I bit the bullet and apologized even when I was embarrassed. I could also tell you that without my parents and the Christian heritage passed on to me through them, it would have never been so.
Parents, let me encourage you to not be so overwhelmed with the book learning and the "scary questions" involving college and ACT scores that you forget what matters most for your child in this world. Your child might not make straight A's on her tests, but she could possess the ability to share Jesus with others. Your preteen might struggle with her math courses, but she could also be standing up for her beliefs in front of her friends. Your teenager might not graduate with acceptance letters from Harvard and Yale, but he could easily graduate with the joy of Christ in his heart. They all could, if you invest the time and energy into their hearts, and not just into their minds.
In today's society, it is very easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of "number one". Everyone wants to be the best and every parent wants their child to be the best. I feel this is especially true for parents of home-schooled children. They feel, perhaps even subconsciously, that they have to prove their intelligence. Home schooling has become more accepted and popular across the nation, but it is still looked at questioningly by many. This puts an infinite strain on the parent as the teacher.
Because of this struggle, it isn't hard to forget what matters the most. Instill convictions about what is good and proper into your child as they diagram sentences. Incorporate positive examples and morals into their hearts along with subtraction and division. While they're learning to bake or sew for Home-Ec, share with them the importance of giving to those who are in need. The possibilities are endless and so are the results.
Next time you feel frustrated because you're not sure of the best way to explain square roots, put down your pencil and take a deep breath. Look at your child sitting beside you and remember the reasons why you wanted to home school in the beginning. Think about the character that is developing and the conduct that is being shaped. Be grateful for the innocence they are being able to hold onto just a little bit longer than most. Realize that God has a plan for you and your child, and He is using you as a key factor in it all.
Years later, as you hand your son or daughter their hard-earned diploma, you can rest easy in knowing that, with God, you did the very best you could. And then, as you smile for the picture that will forever hold a place of honor on the mantle, let it be a smile of satisfaction and relief.
resides in northern Louisiana with her newly wed husband, Brandon. She is currently attending Louisiana Baptist University with a major in Christian Communications and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. You can contact her at [email protected].