Christian Homeschool Resources & Homeschooling Advice

Learning - Family Style! (Part 2)

  • David and Laurie Callihan Authors
  • 2002 2 Jun
Learning - Family Style!  (Part 2)

The Learning Tree Explained

We are presenting some ideas on how home schoolers can increase understanding of the educational process of family-learning versus doing "school at home" to maximize the benefits that are inherent in home schooling.

Our previous article described traditional classroom education’s approach using a spiral-learning model. We showed arguably where it is not the most efficient way for learning to occur, particularly in the home school.

In contrast, in our home our educational philosophy resembles a "learning tree." It starts with the roots of the tree--the four "r’s," reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and research. Our goal is to make sure that our children get adequate time to study these four areas sufficiently enough to master the material at a level that shows competence. You, as the parents, are uniquely qualified like no other person to determine whether you believe your child, your student, has succeeded in gaining the basics of elementary knowledge. (Don’t let the schools tell you otherwise. Frankly, they’re wrong. The evidence is overwhelming.) If the subjects aren’t mastered, you work with the student on them until they are. You work with the child one-on-one to achieve the desired result: mastery of these skills.

So your first priority is making sure that the roots are deeply grounded in the soil of knowledge. Once that is done, you can move on to the next level, equivalent to the trunk of the tree, which is to solidify and integrate the information your child has learned into real life situations. We call this growing in understanding. This will be done when your child is going through the time of adolescence, probably from the time he or she is around 10 or 12 until attaining of adulthood. This level includes gaining understanding about various aspects of history, science, Bible, etc. and integrating them with the original four "r’s." This level then lays the groundwork for the student to become a productive adult. Although our culture views this as the teen years, we prefer to think of it as the pre-adult years, where our children can see the goal to be achieved - adulthood.

The productive portion of the learning tree occurs as the student branches out into various areas of life (he or she may be a spouse, a parent, an employer, a church member, etc.) and bears fruit. Bearing fruit is the result of having a strong root system (the four r’s) integrated through a sturdy trunk (knowledge in many integrated disciplines) and branching out into areas of life. This final stage of growth is one that is undergirded by wisdom, which is taught by God and makes use of knowledge and understanding.

So in summary, the learning tree provides the means for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to be progressively taught to your children, in the loving environment of the home. The home provides an environment conducive to true education, within the context of God’s design and purpose.

This process reminds us of Psalm 1 which says:

1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

So that’s the process that we have the opportunity to lay within our home schools. It’s a good model that develops mature, bright children into responsible, caring adults. In the next article, we talk about how to do this "family-style" learning in very practical ways.

To learn more about other ideas to help you home school your children, family-style, consider David and Laurie’s Web site,, and their book, The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parent’s Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career.