Recently while engaging in a routine Bible study, I discovered a Psalm that had some foundational truths that apply to many things, not the least of which is in preparing a home-school vision statement to guide and direct your home-school program. That isn’t an unusual revelation for those who are inclined to study the Bible for truth and meaning; however, I had not previously considered the points from Psalm 135 in this way before. With particular application to a home-school program, I believe that there are several things of which home-school parents should take note from this Psalm. These include preparing a heritage of learning for their children, demonstrating both judgme nt and compassion, striving for solid character first, and remembering that the leaders, in this case home-school parents, are given a double exhortation. This is quite a high calling, but one that would not be issued to home-school parents if it were not possible.
First, home-school families must always keep their focus in view. The intent, purpose, and driving force behind their efforts must be to give a heritage to their children – both for learning and life application. In an academic setting however, a home-school program must teach the behaviors and methods, the habits and techniques in which students will thrive, not just survive. Heritage implies richness and depth, and homeschooling families must ensure that they are adding depth and value to their program in order to apply these spiritual truths. Consider your home-school program. Are you adding tools by which your students, your children, will learn how to learn? Are you challenging them to take ownership of their own results so that they learn at an early age that they are responsible for developing their God-given talents and aptitudes? If you have relaxed in this area, or are not including this in your core values, stop and adjust; your children need to value the skills that you are gifting them with academically and understand the purpose.
Secondly, judgment and compassion go together. It is not fair to a student to allow only your compassion to drive your home-school assignments and standards. Home-school families have a high assessment of their own level of love for their children, but there must be standards of academic behavior. There must be benchmarks of learning and requirements to grow in wisdom. Home-school students should be held accountable to master material that they are learning; giving an arbitrary “A” for a completed assignment out of compassion or “love” will not prepare them for the standards of achievement that they will face in the post-home-school world. The contrary is true also. A home-school student has the exceptional opportunity to redo work in order to achieve the mastery level. Swift judgment in the form of a poor grade does not have to stop at a task not done correctly. Allow your student to know the compassion of redoing his or her work until it is done correctly. Over time, they will learn that judgment and compassion are both necessary and both realities of growing in stature and skill, as well as learn the benefits in doing their jobs well the first time.
In preparing your home-school vision statement, remember that empty values lead to empty character and ineffective leaders, another truth from Psalm 135. Ineffective leaders are nothing more than “silver and gold” to quote the Psalm and they have no life and breath in them. Home-school families should be striving for strong moral character in their students, full of life and vitality, and that process begins by actively cultivating students who see beyond their own lives. They need to understand the connectedness to a larger world around them. The earlier that they learn this, the stronger that they will be. Community and civic contribution should be encouraged and moral character must be trained.
And finally, as the final verses of this Psalm point out, these truths are about the students themselves, and they focus on the people that your children will become as adults, but leaders, in this case the home-school parents, are given a double exhortation. Parents, these truths must begin with you. You must be focused, intentional about creating a heritage, givers of judgment and compassion, strong in moral character and willing to be a leader in your home-school program. Lead by example. Learn new skills, grow in wisdom, seek new challenges and take on new tasks in an effort to show your children that learning never stops. If you have not ever created a vision statement for your home-school, I encourage you to do so. A guiding template can be found on our website for starting this process.
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