06 January 2009

First Day of School

Munchkin had her "first day of school" yesterday. Truly, we begin educating our children from the day they are born, but since she is almost four and quite bright, I thought that setting aside some time each day for an actual lesson would be good. It lasted for 35 minutes, which at her age is quite good for an attention span. She learned about the color red, and practiced writing the letter A and a. Writing will take some practice, but I expected that. She did not. At one point she looked up at me and said, "I'm having a hard time learning..." I hugged her and explained that she was doing just fine and it takes some time and practice to learn things. After 35 minutes she declared, "I want to be done with school!" So, after she finished that round of writing A and a, I sent her into the living room to play with her brothers. I think that she expected things to progress much faster! We can't learn to read overnight, unfortunately! She will do just fine though, and I have no doubt that once she learns to read she will follow in her parents' footsteps and become an avid reader.

I think that it is impossible to be well-educated without being well-read. I am constantly surprised by the number of people in my age bracket that tell me they don't really read anything except magazines. I cannot imagine never sitting down with a good book! There is so much to be learned through reading, I could never run out of reading material. The founding fathers of America had impressive personal libraries. I think this is a good indicator of how vital reading is to good education. Already we are establishing our own personal library, and we already have several books that are on the required reading list for our children!

I find it interesting that during colonial times in America, the literacy rate was quite a bit higher than it is now. Rather surprising in this day of compulsory school attendance. That a largely home-educated populous were more literate than we are today is rather telling.

A commonly held opinion in that time period was that it was important for children to learn to read so that they could read the scriptures for themselves. Remember, the abuses of the Church of England was quite fresh in the minds of these people. An awakening was preceding the Revolution in America, and people wanted their children to discover a personal relationship with God through His Word. In fact the Bible was the common "textbook" of the day for teaching children to read. What better first reading material!

The goals of education have changed greatly over the past 250 years. I do not have the goal of simply teaching my kids reading, writing and arithmetic. No, my educational goals for my children go far beyond that. I want them to learn to read so that they may read the scriptures for themselves. I want them to learn history, so that they may see the blessings granted a nation who follows God, and the judgment that befalls those who do not. I want them to learn science so that they may look in awe upon the order and majesty of God's creation. I want them to learn mathematics so they may understand the just weight and measure that God calls for in the Bible. I want them to learn to write so that they may share with others what God has revealed to them. Most importantly, I want them to learn the Scriptures, so that no man may sway them from the truth.

A homeschooling mom once said it best. The most important things we will ever teach our children cannot be measured on an achievement test. Character cannot be measured by any but God. Our childrens' character is what we are to carefully shape through education. God commands parents to teach their children of Him constantly. God has entrusted us with a precious child, our greatest task is to point their heart to the cross.

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