The Child Shall Lead

Three-year-old Rosie brought a handful of rocks from the driveway in the house. She carefully placed these ordinary pieces of gravel on the bookshelf. This was the beginning of her rock collection.

At three years old, there was little pattern or reason to her collection or how she displayed it. She just started collecting rocks. It wasn’t long before rocks became a major portion of our learning program.

As the rock collection and Rosie grew, more care was taken in how the rocks were displayed, sorted, and identified. As the number of rocks grew, she started to be more discriminating in which ones she kept. It wasn’t long before the collection was sorted by color and size.

Eventually Rosie began to ask questions about her rocks. It was off to the library to find picture and easy-reader books about rocks. We soon bought a few classification books to have at home.

Not surprisingly, rocks became a part of our daily lives. When Rosie began to learn to add and subtract, she used some of her smaller, less precious rocks as counters. She learned to write sentences about rocks. We had conversations about how a rock forms. These discussions included that God is the Creator of all her rocks.

Now at age 14, Rosie has kept only the most precious of her original rock collection. But she has skills and knowledge from those beginning lessons that will stay with her throughout her life.

That’s the beauty of homeschooling. Our child can lead the way — if we get out of the way.

child's rocks Even in the preschool years, we often become so concerned about standards and completing lessons we forget about the purpose of education. Education is not a linear list of skills or bullet points of facts.

According to Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of English Language, education is “The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of mannerseducation comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties” (emphasis added).

Compare that to the current Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

“the action or process of teaching someone especially in a school, college, or university, the knowledge, skill, and understanding that you get from attending a school, college, or university, a field of study that deals with the methods and problems of teaching.”

What a difference! The former definition has little to do with knowledge, skills, or facts. The latter one has no concern for manners, habits, or usefulness in the future. The former places the responsibility on the parents; the latter places it on the school, college, or university.

As Christian parents, most of us are familiar with Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up a child in the way he should go.” How do we know the way our child is to go? Well, of course, we want our children to follow God’s way. God has a different way for each individual. His way doesn’t have a common check-off list for every person.

Again I ask, how do we know the way God wants our child to go in future stations? Let your child be the guide. Homeschooling parents can easily see the natural bents, talents, and gifts of children from early ages. Those bents, talents, and gifts probably aren’t going to follow a pre-determined course of study.

Three different scope and sequences of curriculums listed the study of rocks in the third grade. Can you imagine what I would have done to Rosie’s interest if I had said, “Oh no, Honey, you can’t learn about rocks until you’ve learned about the sun, planets, and moon”? By allowing her to guide, even as a preschooler, I was able to use her natural curiosity to learn other skills needed for her future station.

I do believe that scope and sequence and education checklists can be useful to know the details of academic subjects. It is harder to follow a child’s bent than to follow a planned list of skills.

I also believe that our primary duty as parents is to teach God’s salvation, manners, and responsibility. This training needs to be primary to the arts and sciences. Again, there’s no checklist because each child is different and needs to be taught good character differently.

Will Rosie be a geologist? I don’t know. I do know she knows who the Creator is; she has learned discipline through her study of rocks; she has gained useful skills for her future.

Susan Stewart
Known for practical solutions to real-world situations, Susan K. Stewart is a teacher, writer, and speaker. Susan teaches Steps to Your Homeschool Philosophy, Writing for the Homeschool Market, and other classes online and at conferences. Susan is the author of three books, including Preschool: At What Cost? Her current work in progress is Practical Guide to Formatting e-Books for Writers. Susan lives in Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, five chickens, and a peacock. The Stewarts have three children and five grandchildren. www.practicalinspirations.com.
Susan Stewart

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Susan Stewart

Known for practical solutions to real-world situations, Susan K. Stewart is a teacher, writer, and speaker. Susan teaches Steps to Your Homeschool Philosophy, Writing for the Homeschool Market, and other classes online and at conferences. Susan is the author of three books, including Preschool: At What Cost? Her current work in progress is Practical Guide to Formatting e-Books for Writers. Susan lives in Texas with her husband, Bob, three dogs, three cats, five chickens, and a peacock. The Stewarts have three children and five grandchildren. www.practicalinspirations.com.

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