When I first started homeschooling, mumble-mumble years ago, I went all-out on all the subjects. I was one of those homeschoolers who purchased the mega-ultimate-deluxe package of curriculum, covering every single subject in depth with extra workbooks and posters and teaching aids. For preschool. After the mega-ultimate-deluxe bill for that order, we had to eat ramen noodles for several weeks, but we had flannelgraphs, so that was all that mattered. Right?
I grew up and gradually learned how to do without and pare down the excess. By the time I was ready to add younger siblings to the homeschool group, I was prioritizing our subjects as well as our expenditures. Our homeschool elementary studies no longer majored on laboratory sciences, extensive book reports, research projects, and flannelgraph presentations. We were honed in on reading, writing, and arithmetic with laser focus.
But something was missing. Cutting the fat out of my homeschool budget and daily schedule helped save (some of) my sanity and reignite my children’s love for learning (or at least of finishing really fast so they could run outside barefoot). We had what to do next down pat, so they could memorize answers and fill in blanks with happy mastery. But soon I realized the foundation was missing: the why behind the lessons.
The goal of the Garfias homeschool was never build a smarter student or even crank out perfect mini me’s. Instead, David and I were convicted that by intentionally teaching our children day in and day out, we could pass along our most important values, the beliefs and worldviews that God had impressed upon us: love God, love others, work hard for His glory. This has become our Homeschool Why: beginning each child’s lifelong journey of loving and learning.
Yes, math and writing and reading are important; you can’t convince me otherwise. But it gradually dawned on me that something vital trumped all of those, that other lessons drove the other academics and shaped every lesson. And then I found the source: God’s record of His dealings with mankind. That’s when Bible and history moved from secondary to primary importance in our daily studies.
We all agree that biblical training is very important for our children. We know they need to understand Bible doctrine, to apply Scripture to their daily lives, even to memorize key passages that will guide their lives. So we purposefully practice family devotions, pray together, even require biblical studies of our students. That is a cornerstone in biblical home education.
But though God does teach us through His Word, He also uses something else to reveal Himself. When God wanted to teach His children a lesson, when He convicted them of straying from Himself, when He began His church, He always reminded His followers of His historical dealings with mankind. History is not only the record of God’s plan through the ages; it is also the key to understanding who we are and what He wants of us today. It’s how we see God working in man. It’s our proof He still is today.
Don’t we sometimes miss that? Is it easy to forget, like the Israelites of old? This is why God, when He spoke to the patriarchs, always reminded them that He was the historical God of their fathers (Genesis 26:1–5, 28:13–15, 35:11–15). When Moses took the Israelites out of Egypt, God gave him the Pentateuch to show the people where they had begun and where they were going. Indeed, much of Scripture itself is the historical record of God’s people from ancient times through the beginning of the church. So when Peter preached his first Pentecost sermon (Acts 3) and Paul laid out salvation to the Jews (Acts 13), they both started with the historical record of God’s love and grace. The rest of the epistles point to these examples for us to build on (see especially Hebrews 11 and 12).
Our faith is a historical faith. Our creation is a historical fact. Our Savior is a historical person. Our Scriptures are true and infallible. And our God remains unchanged through time.
This historical perspective of God’s workings through history changes every subject our students touch: it informs the spiritual foundations of math, how they were discovered, and how they are expressed; the historical reality of our creation by God and the worldview battle that has raged ever since; the literary expressions of man’s obedience, reverence, and even rebellion against God; the written records of mankind as they honored or rebelled against Him.
Centering our homeschool on Bible and history provides other rich benefits: perspective on current events, hope during trials and difficulties, guidance in perplexing choices, encouragement in dark days. Reminding one another of God’s working in similar circumstances in times past has become a frequent encouragement around our home, an exhortation my teens preach back to me constantly!
Educational fads come and go. Curriculum goes on sale or out of print. And students develop new and challenging interests. But when we keep a larger view of Scripture and history in the center of our homes and homeschools, we can’t help but succeed at teaching God’s most important lessons.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. (Isaiah 46:9–10)
Lea Ann Garfias is a freelance writer whose words have appeared in a plethora of ebooks and websites. She would not say plethora if she did not mean plethora. A homeschool grad and homeschooling mommy of four, Lea Ann drinks a lot of coffee, reads a lot of books, and plays a lot of Bach in Dallas, Texas.