The most common issue that arises during the “Running The Race” phase of home education is familiarity. The mother is always with the children and the children start to see her as one of them. Fathers have to be especially diligent in having the children keep a healthy respect for their mother during this time.
Dad also can become a little complacent, since mom is doing such a good job. It is true that if “something isn’t broken it is not wise to fix it,” but it is also true that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The overriding principle at this stage becomes “if momma isn’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”
Dad should take mom out on a date, giving her a chance to bounce some ideas, vent a little and to enjoy some “adult company.” It is probably a good thing to make a habit of this. Mom needs to be encouraged too and there is no one who can do this better than a loving, faithful, caring and responsible husband.
The father HAS to be involved in the training, teaching and discipling of their children, at all times, as this is HIS responsibility and not the mother’s, even though the mother does most of the work involved in the home education.
The mother’s role is simply to be a helpmeet, that is, to help the father meet his goals for the preparation of his children to be good citizens of this world while serving God in every way.
I have found that if the father is not seriously involved in this part of the training, he is largely disqualified from being taken seriously by the children after puberty. Fathers may not be physically there, in the home, on a day to day basis, but their authority, which comes from God should be omnipresent.
I cannot overstate the importance of having the father take and demonstrate responsibility in the education of his children, with mother actively performing the task on his behalf.
It should also be noted that even though academic study is important, it pales in comparison with understanding who God is and how He desires to be part of our lives.
Let’s take a close look at a couple of Bible verses to get a vision of our goal as Christian home educating parents.
Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” is the most quoted verse in the home education world. Although we may quote it often, do we truly understand what it means?
It says train, not teach, up a child, not an adult. Training is just that. The repeating and repeating of things to the young, until it is finally absorbed. Training is aimed at the heart, not the head, which is the target for teaching.
Training the heart is what should take place before puberty arrives. There is plenty of time for teaching the head afterwards. If the heart is not trained before puberty, you may end up with an educated person, yet someone without a moral rudder. This is becoming all too common, these days.
It may be instructive at this point to expose the fact that schools constantly talk of teaching, and almost never, if ever, mention training until the post-secondary level. I believe this shows that the status quo education system is either not interested in training children, or fully understand that the heart is what needs to be targeted, secretly perhaps, with the Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian message it advances under the banner of neutrality. Think about this.
Back to Proverbs 22:6. I interpret the “in the way that he should go” portion as “in keeping with whom I have created.” God has already created the child who does not need to be improved upon. God saw that His creation was not just good, but very good, after he had created man. I believe God sees every child as complete and very good.
It is not our place to create something of our child, but to develop what has already been created. As stated by Abram’s coach in the movie Chariots of Fire, “it is not a good thing to try to put in what God has left out.”
The training of a child is therefore best described as writing the truth in their hearts. This is done constantly not only in word, but also, in deed.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, also a commonly quoted verse in the home education world, tells us just what should be written in the hearts of children, stating that this is the responsibility of parents, fathers in particular, and that it can only be successful when constantly reinforced in daily living. Sounds like home education to me.
Once the truth has been written in their hearts, even if they deny it, run from it, pretend it doesn’t exist or simply turn their backs on it, it remains etched on the walls of their very being. That is why it states “and when he grows old, he shall not depart from it.”
No matter what, truth written in the heart of a child is there to stay. They may be adults before they return to the fold, so to speak, but it will happen because the truth written in their hearts by loving parents cannot be erased.
Train up a child, in keeping with what God has created, by constantly reiterating, demonstrating, reinforcing and writing the truth on the walls of his heart, before he reaches puberty.
Making this training a part of Running The Race stage of learning will best prepare children for that day when, having gone through puberty, the teaching phase of the home education can proceed in earnest.