The new school year is about to get under way at the Jisa house as we enter our 12th year of home-schooling. For us, it's more than just an educational choice and is really more a way of life. My purpose in this article is to offer encouragement to those who might be considering home-schooling.
Home education can be individualized for each child's unique God-given learning style. There are three major types of learners (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) and I just so happen to have one of each. As a former public school teacher, I know that most classrooms cater to visual learners. Anyone who doesn't fit that mold may be mislabeled as disruptive or in need of remedial classes.
If a topic is mastered, we can move on to something else. Likewise, if a concept requires a little more time to grasp, we can stick with it longer. Our schedule is not dictated by the teacher's manual, 25-plus other students, or a bell ringing every 50 minutes, demanding that we shift our attention to something new. And there is no homework/busywork. When we're done for the day, we're done!
It takes much less time to "do school" each day, leaving more time to pursue our own interests. My son began designing websites at age 12, and that has turned into a real-life lesson in business management and entrepreneurship.
We can travel when it works out best for us and we don't have to work around the school's schedule. And talk about fabulous field trip opportunities - our oldest daughter is accompanying me to Africa next month. Hands-on caring for widows and orphans (James 1:27).
I like to refer to us as being on a life-long learning journey. I am often learning something new right along with my children while we continue to develop a real love for learning. I was really good at getting A's in school, but I don't remember much of what I actually studied.
We pray together! This can happen anytime during the day, whether a friend has just called with a prayer request, or a child is stumped as to how to grasp a math concept. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." That wisdom may lead us to a mentor or a specialized class outside the home.
Somebody reading this right now is thinking they would love to home-school their children, but they don't feel qualified. Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Notice it doesn't say "except for home-schooling." With a background in education, I had a little too much confidence when we started home-schooling. In fact, I had to unlearn a lot. This is a humbling journey with constant daily reminders of my weaknesses and how dependent upon the Lord we are. I know that I cannot home-school in my own strength. It's definitely a faith-builder.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." Even though I feel very strongly that the Lord has called us to home-school, are there days when I wonder what we have gotten ourselves into? Absolutely. Are there times I feel like giving up? Of course. But it's times like that when I'm reminded of God's command in Deuteronomy 6:5-6 to "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates." It would be very difficult to live this out effectively if our only time together was after school or on weekends.
We are a family whose desire for our children is that they will love the Lord (and each other), love learning, develop Christ-like character, and learn good decision-making skills. How we measure success depends on whether we are using God's definition or the world's.
Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.