For families that are faith based homeschoolers a question that often arises is how does one fit in a spiritual component to their homeschooling. The question arises What is Spiritual Education? How does one approach it?
Is it part of the homeschool day, as in, is it subject that is completed once a day just like math, science, art etc. OR is a more generic part of the day NOT considered a subject in the curriculum. The question then begged is, how do you as the parent teacher help your children understand the difference?
I admittedly am not sure of the answer but want to take the time to explore it. Personally I’ve done it both ways, where it’s one or the other. Currently I’m doing a mix of both.
Faith in every Subject
Spiritual education can be woven into every single subject that is taught. That’s a given in a faith-based homeschool due to the fact that as believers we understand that God is in all and through all and manifests himself throughout the entirety of the world. He does. So when we teach art we understand that God is the first artist and shows himself through the things he has created. The more we understand how God put things together, the more we understand how much he cares for this world. All the details he holds in place show us his omnipotence. But does weaving faith facts into lessons teach our children how to have a daily devotional time? Does it teach them facts about the bible which they should understand?
I don’t think so. It does teach them the relevancy of God to every subject and area of life, but it doesn’t actually teach them to dive deep into God’s word and to think meditatively about spiritual things.
The way to really understand a subject is to take the time to read and think about what you are learning. So as you do math you learn that 1 + 1 = 2 and then can bear that out with practical application. To understand Shakespeare you read his works, consider the time period that he lived in, figure out what the words he used actually mean, and therefore are able to understand his works. The same goes for understanding God. You actually need to stop, read his word, consider the history and time period, consider what you already know about him, and really think about the verses that you are reading. What do they tell you about God, what do they tell you about people (including yourself). It’s important to learn these skills early so they translate into continuing these skills as adult.
Curriculum or Outside of Curriculum
The challenge I find is this. Having a devotional time as part of your homeschooling day, means it won’t be forgotten. Do your math, your science, have your devotions, do your English. It’s just part of your learning time. You know it will get done. But here’s a risk involved: your children will see this only as a subject to be completed, not a life skill to develop.
BUT if you separate out your devotional time what do you do on those really busy days when it’s hard to fit everything in? Then you risk your devotional time being forgotten, or laid aside, in the busyness of life. The risk you run is teaching your children that sometimes all the running around we do is more important than learning more about God and his will for our lives. How does one counter that?
This is why I see combining the two methods as win-win. Your child (as a subject) learns the books of the bible, or learns memory verses, or works through a Sunday School lesson. A regular study time that teaches without necessarily the meditative aspect of a personal devotional time.
And then at a separate time (like at a meal or first thing in the morning) you can have a family devotional time, or take 30 minutes after (or before) you start your homeschooling day to have a personal time of reading God’s word and talking about it. To that end, in our day, we do a couple of things. First as I go through the book of John I talk with my lad about what I’m learning and get his insights as well. I’ll read verses to him and say “Hey, this is what I’m thinking and learning. What are your thoughts?”
At supper (almost every night) we are working through the book Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds. We are doing this with our international student which gives us a lots of reasons to stop and just talk as we want him to understand what we are learning too. We take turns reading scripture and then applying that to what we have learned. Sometimes we are so amazed.
What Others Do:
I know from talking with other moms that they have their own routine. Perhaps they will start their day with 20 minutes of quiet bible reading, or a morning circle time, and as part of their bedtime routine. We each, through trial and error, find our own way. It’s important to do so though. God gives us life and care. His son died for us. It’s the very least we can do to take time to know him, our heavenly Father, just a wee bit more eh?