Christian Homeschool Resources & Homeschooling Advice

The Learning Tree Bears Fruit

The Learning Tree Bears Fruit

Psalm 1 Learning – Part 6

So our homeschooling philosophy of education has taken us from the basic introduction of facts and figures, commonly called knowledge, through the integration across interrelated disciplines in a process called understanding. Let us now complete the thought with a third level of learning that is the ultimate success of family-based education:

The Fruit
The productive portion of the Learning Tree occurs as the student branches out into various areas of life (as 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 (application of knowledge in many arenas to gain understanding) and branching out into the world with wisdom. This final stage of growth—the under girding in wisdom—is taught by God and makes use of knowledge and understanding.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10 (NASV)

We define wisdom as the right use of knowledge and understanding. Satan is never called wise in the Scripture. Shrewd and cunning, yes, wise, no, because though he has great knowledge, and the understanding to apply it, he only applies it in a selfish, evil way. Without wisdom no person will be a fruit-bearing adult. Further, God offers His wisdom to all of His people.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5 (NASV)

A person who is applying academic and spiritual knowledge in order to glorify God will be a person of wisdom, a fruit-bearing adult.

The Tree
Consider the following illustration of the three phases of Learning Tree growth:

The elementary/knowledge/root stage would be the time when a youngster learns the difference between flour and sugar, a teaspoon and a cup measure, the oven and the refrigerator, and also learns how to read a recipe. Once they know these things they go on to use their knowledge at the secondary/understanding/trunk stage to properly combine the ingredients of a recipe so the that they can bake a delicious cake. At the adult/wisdom/fruit level, they take the cake and offer it as a gift to a grieving person in order to bless them and share the love and care of God with them.

On a spiritual analogy, take the story of David and Goliath. To the young child, it is an adventure about a shepherd boy who kills a giant with just a sling and five stones. Our goal should be to focus on the knowledge of the historical validity of the event with our young children. Then as children become early teens, we should help them to understand what David was attempting to accomplish—defending his God and the integrity of his people. And as our children grow into adulthood, we will be considered successful if they grow to have the same level of discernment and wisdom to live with the faith and courage of character that David emulated.

You may find that the boundaries between elementary, secondary, and adulthood levels are a bit blurrier than we have described, and in fact they usually are. However, if you understand the basic stages of development of the Learning Tree you should feel a sense of freedom in applying the principles within it to your students as you see fit.

Ultimately, you are the one that God has entrusted with the education of your children, so feel confident that He will provide you the wisdom for directing their education successfully. The principle of James 1:5 applies to you too! The Learning Tree is meant to be an illustration and guideline that will free you from the limited concept of education you probably grew up with (the learning spiral).

With the LearningTree approach, advancement should be by achievement, rather than by finishing the curriculum or "passing" a certain grade. You are the best ones to determine when that achievement has been accomplished. Ultimately, as parents or teachers, you have a tremendous part to play in your children's education. Seeing its fruition is a gift of God—a reward of the culmination of educational success at the end of a long and satisfying journey, as our children step out on their own to be productive adults.

The educational philosophy of the Learning Tree is beautifully portrayed in Psalm One. Keeping this Psalm in mind as our guideline for educating our children will give us a true and right goal before us:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD;
and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous:
but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Psalm 1(KJV)

This topic and much more is covered in David and Laurie Callihan's recently completed, brand new, downloadable Parent's Guide to the Christian Homeschool Daily Planner (with their Grand Plan built right in) and also in The Guidance Manual for the Christian Homeschool: A Parent's Guide for Preparing Homeschool Students for College or Career.  Learn more at They are regular columnists on Crosswalk's High School and general Homeschool pages.