During this unprecedented time, Christian parents are being presented with new opportunities to teach and homeschool their children in line with Biblical values. But if you’ve never had to home educate your children, it’s hard to know where to start.

We’ve asked some home education experts for advice on how parents can take advantage of these times, and provided you with various resources below to get started. We’ll be providing you with more top tips and advice in the coming weeks.

Let us know how you get on!

Seeing homeschooling as a viable form of education

Steve Hayhow is minister of Emmanuel Church, Southgate, and together with his wife, helped to homeschool their seven children. He believes that this time presents many parents with an opportunity to explore home education for themselves – with many finding that it is a rewarding experience. “There is nothing like necessity to drive creativity,” he says. We asked him what he would advise parents wanting to explore this option for themselves.

What are the biggest challenges of home education, from your experience?

I think there are a number of challenges:

  1. How to address the discipline of one’s children, as homeschooling is intolerable with children that are not properly disciplined in basic self-control and godly behaviour.
  2. It is important to connect with other families with a similar outlook on approach – you can do this online.
  3. Often churches are not supportive of home education to the extent that families feel pushed to the margins of the church or made to feel not accepted.
  4. Dependence on the Lord for the momentum to drive it through the times of discouragement. Some people do give up.

What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to parents who are starting to home educate?

My top piece of advice would be to stay focused on the one thing you’re trying to achieve – you are nurturing souls- above all else and not try to replicate the school. It is much better to go deep thanto go broad.

Are there any online resources that you would recommend parents use?

Circe institute is an online research and tutoring service.

Roman Roads Media specialises in a classical curriculum.

Can you suggest one specific lesson or activity that parents could use with their children today?

I would greatly encourage reading aloud and then discussing what you read aloud with your children each day, encouraging them to narrate and discuss – then what you read will have been worthwhile.

A Biblical conviction to home educate

Becky Penberthy-Smith is a mum who has educated her two daughters from ages 4 to 18. She now supports families who use the Accelerated Certificate of Education (ACE) curriculum.

What has been your experience with home education?

Home educating was the most challenging but also the most rewarding time of our lives. We felt convicted from God’s word to home educate, rather than being convinced it is a good idea. There are many verses show that it is our responsibility to train our children in His ways.

To have to opportunity to teach the academic subjects from a Christian worldview rather than a secular worldview is an amazing privilege. It is great to learn every subject from a Biblical perspective. Christian parents are increasingly uneasy about what is being taught in the schools today. We still have the freedom to teach and train our children in God’s ways.

Both children got into university with this ICCE certificate (the Christian certificate that is awarded when completing the ACE programme).

What are the biggest challenges of home education?

Character training! This is far more time consuming and difficult than the academics. You will be challenged on your own character as your children know how to press you buttons and your behaviour is on view all day every day. Take time to sit and talk being always ready to say sorry for your mistakes, too.

What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to parents who are starting to home educate?

Be organised, have a routine, get the children to help with chores and cooking, concentrate on the academics in the mornings and then do the more active, creative activities in the afternoon. Start the day with some exercise to help them concentrate.

Then enjoy the time with your children! Spot their gifts and encourage them that. Have plenty of time for reading, playing, stories and creativity.

What resources would you recommend parents use?

The ACE curriculum – We used the ACE curriculum and completed the General, Intermediate and Advanced levels. The General level is equivalent to Cambridge ‘O’ levels. This is a structured, individualised, mastery learning programme where you are the supervisor rather than being the teacher. The children work independently, set their own goals and you are there to encourage and help them when they get stuck.

Parents are the primary educators of their children

Steve Beegoo is CEO of the Christian School’s Trust and Principal of The King’s School in Witney. He has over 25 years’ experience teaching and leading in Christian schools.

What opportunities for Christian education does this time bring?

Throughout history, parents have always been the principle educators of their children. Our Biblical understanding is that there is a God-given authority given to parents to teach their own children. Too often this authority has been not ‘thoughtfully delegated’ to teachers but instead assumed to be the role of the state. This time gives us an opportunity to recognise the joy of developing a depth of relationship with our children, and to discover that they have been designed to learn from parents. Teachers can help in specific areas, but who a child really becomes has always been the responsibility of parents.

What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to parents who are starting to home educate?

The Psalmist says ‘It is good to praise the Lord, and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning, and your faithfulness at night’ (Psalm 92:1-2).

Have a daily routine which starts with reflection, praise and prayer, focussing on God’s love and encouragement. End the routine of any day with expressions of thanks for His faithfulness through the day, which will continue into tomorrow.

Are there any online resources that you would recommend parents use?

Three ideas!

  1. Keeping active with under 8s and want it a bit more structured with learning included? Then ‘Boogie Beebies’ on YouTube will provide just that! Be prepared to join in though!
  2. Want some additional primary Maths resources which are simple to understand?- Try all the free printable worksheets from Mathsphere
  3. If you want a Biblical Seminary for children and young people performed by the muppets, the 12 ‘What’s in the Bible’ DVDs can’t be beaten. There are 24, 30 minute sessions, which will entertain and teach the thrust of the whole metanarrative of scripture! YouTube has plenty of examples. Suitable for 8-14s.
  4. Would you like Free Christian colouring resources for some ‘art’ time reflecting on verses relevant to the times? Frog and Gnome have plenty!

Can you suggest one specific lesson or activity that parents could use with their children today?

Many schools will be providing lots of advice and ideas. I would encourage each parent to look together with their children at the options and opportunities, and pray together about how to organise completing them. Their ownership will make a world of difference, and it won’t just be ‘Mum said I should…’. In deciding, start by being honest about what is enjoyed and what it not, and pray to the Lord together acknowledging you can’t just do Maths all day, before deciding.

Time to enjoy being with your children

Janine Bell is married with four children, aged 6-17. She and her husband, Jonathan, have home educated all of their children for the past 10 years. Janine now helps coordinate the growing national interest in the Classical Conversation education programme, which now exists in over 40 countries.

What opportunities for Christian education does this time bring?

If we take it, we can change our lives and the lives of our children for the better – for Christ!

What are the biggest challenges of home education?

Stamina. And a lack of support from fellow believers, and quite often from family members.

What’s the top piece of advice you’d give to parents who are starting to home educate?

Enjoy your children. Slow down. Start to read a chapter book together, reading aloud to them. They can always draw or play with lego while you read, or just cuddle up (almost all ages from 3-4 upwards enjoy this.) You will be creating memories, and fond memories help to scaffold us when the storms come in adult life. Family bonding happens automatically in the sharing of a book. It’s like going on holiday together – but better.

Are there any online resources that you would recommend to parents?

Classical Conversions has plenty of resources that parents can use, that they’ve put together for this time of coronavirus lockdown!

Republished by permission of Christian Concern

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