Book Reviews: On Parenting and Home Education

So a few weeks ago I had some time to do some power reading and burned through a couple of re-reads.  Here’s what I walked away from them with:

First, Parenting with Love and Logic.

I read this book several years ago and liked some aspects of it, but honestly felt like it gave too many choices.  I don’t really feel like my 3 year old (or 5 year old for that matter) needs to have a say in every aspect of her life.  Sometimes, it really is just because Mom said so.  But, we’ve reached a new stage with our older girls and they clearly need to be handled differently than I have been handling them.  I need to back off from authoritarianism (definitely not my goal parenting style, but if I’m honest, it’s probably my default) and start working more toward a coaching-style of parenting.  We’ve always been pretty “hands-off”, in that we let our kids own their problems.  But I have been failing at following up with them on why things are working out a certain way for them or why a certain behavior is unacceptable.  I already knew I needed to be doing those things, but sometimes reading something again helps to make it top-of-mind.  I still don’t agree with everything in Love and Logic, but I came away with some new ideas and a renewed vision that their problems are not necessarily my problems and I need to resist the urge to handle them simply because it would be faster but what I do need to do is talk more to them about the “why’s” of life and make sure to use those teachable moments without beating the proverbial dead horse.

Second, When You Rise Up.

Another re-read from a few years back, I grabbed this one off the shelf to remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.  Academically, this has been a pretty good school year but psychologically it has been brutal.  Every day feels like an emotional war zone and I have never so seriously questioned whether or not home education was the best choice for our children or for me.

Sproul articulates well our general philosophy on home education.  Yes, the academics are important.  Yes, I want my children to be bright and to excel.  Yes, I want them to be well-rounded and be exposed to a variety of opportunities and challenges.  But more than anything,  I want them to be Christ-like.  I want to influence their character and mold their hearts.  And not to say that those who go to school can’t be impacted that way, but for us this is the best method.

I agree with Sproul in theory that the Bible is the only textbook needed to adequately educate a child.  However, that may fail in application for most of us.  I know of a few families who could pull that off and their children would still learn science and math and modern history.  I am not one of them.  I need textbooks and structure or my kids will be rich in Bible knowledge (a good thing!) but academic dunces in every other way (a bad thing).  But if I am honest, I would rather have a child who fails every standardized test and yet loves the Lord with her whole heart, mind, and strength than to have my child accepted into the best schools on full-ride scholarships and not love Jesus.

The hard part about this book (and this school year) is that relationship and character are our goals and it has felt like we are failing miserably.  But I have to remember that this is not like learning short vowels sounds or simple addition, character takes years – sometimes a lifetime – to develop.  And while I can be encouraged by their academic growth and know that all is not entirely in vain, the other keeps me on my knees and in the Word, trusting God to take this broken vessel and use it to make these children into something beautiful.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

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