I is for…individuality

The next letter in our alphabet is fundamental, not just to biblical principles or to home education, but to all of life.

Individuality is where it’s at. It’s our relationship with God. It’s the biblical principle from which at the others spring. It is what gives us liberty in home education and in life. Independently dependent upon God. As we understand individuality as God intends it our relationships flourish, our liberty grows and our faith deepens.

Once we are able to truly be what God designed all the masks come off. Once we shake off conformity to the world and embrace independence in Christ we can enjoy life as God intended. It is not easy but it is immensely rewarding.

This doesn’t mean we don’t lean on others or seek relationships or guidance. Far from it! God’s Principle of Individuality helps us form tight bonds. Embracing others in their uniqueness and pulling on their strengths only serves to benefit a relationship. We add to one another and we celebrate the differences.

How to live like a homeschooler–even if you’re not one

Being a parent of a non-homeschooled child, you are probably busy and think you don’t have time (or energy) to do more where your child’s education is concerned. But your child can benefit from some of small ways home educators (especially BPA educators) approach education. Delegating your child’s education to a school does not absolve you of your responsibility to be your child’s most important teacher. Here are a few easy ways you can take more leadership of your child’s education.

Be involved in their education. Check homework, ask questions about lectures. Offer more than the school is offering. Go beyond, even if it’s only small things like checking out an extra book from the library on the topic.

Look for biblical principles in the everyday. Make the vocabulary and reasoning part of your family’s daily dialogue. Filter everything you can through the Bible and have deep conversations about life in real time. This is how your children learn how to reason and helps them refine their worldview.

Make your whole lives about learning. No one only learns in certain locations or during certain hours. Make your home a haven of learning. Set up a science center and/or a reading corner related to what they are learning. Cooking, laundry and chores are also times to learn math, science and life skills. Thinking about these simple tasks in a new way can open up a new avenue to connect with your child educationally. Bringing Biblical principles into the subject (like science)  brings life to learning that will inspire for life in a gentle way.

Read aloud–and read a lot. Mealtimes and car rides are great times to squeeze in extra literary goodness. Offer your child a reading list, especially in the summer. Add to the list your child’s teacher gives and if your child has a choice of books to read, offer a literary classic, a “living book.” (see some of my previous posts on literature.)

Learn alongside your children. Ask them questions and allow them to teach you something. Dig in and learn beyond the homework, which is probably fill in the blank or one word answers. Take a topic and together see what you can learn that s not fact-oriented.

Look for ways to incorporate their learning styles. Homework is a good time to let your child embrace their learning style. Making up songs to study for a test, walking and learning, drawing and doodling can all be done during homework time and help your child get more out of their homework.

Embrace individuality. As long as they are following the teacher’s instructions, why not let your child use colored paper, write with a colored pen, use a cool computer font or anything else that will help your child take ownership of their own learning. Help them make projects their own, not just something they were told to complete. Encourage creative expression every chance you can.

Take field trips. Weekends are for enjoying. Make them fun AND educational. Zoos, museums, aquariums, fire houses all make fun family outings that create memories and offer learning at the same time.

What suggestions do you have?

What exactly is a principle?

What is a principle? I’m so glad you asked! It is best to start at the beginning, after all. Webster’s 1828 defines it generally as:

PRIN’CIPLE, n. [L. principium, beginning.] 1. In a general sense, the cause, source or origin of any thing; that from which a thing proceeds; as the principle of motion; the principles of action.

In the Biblical Principle Approach, a principle is that from which a subject springs. Principles are the foundation of the subject. It is the seed from which the subject grows. Like a seed, it contains the life and everything needed to grow in the subject.

Where do they come from? In a word, the Bible. All subjects find their origin in God as Creator. He is the source of everything.

What’s the big deal about using Biblical Principles? Well, the point is that you get to the source of the subject, the origin. Also the principles apply to the whole of the subject, helping you form a deeper understanding to (hopefully) master it. It also helps you develop a deeper appreciation of God’s way of doing things when you see how a subject is constructed. You can discover all sorts of things that apply to other areas of life and it can actually make teaching FUN because you are learning as well. It also makes teaching easier on one way. Because your lessons always point to a principle, your learning has a point beyond just filling in a worksheet. It has a greater focus which can help you do more than just get through another consumable book. It has a goal beyond finishing, and to me that helps make teaching easier.

Why teach from Biblical principles?

It’s the way Jesus taught.The Pharisees didn’t like his approach much. They wanted facts, rules. He got to the heart of the matter. He was able to sum up the 10 commandments in two principles. His approach frustrates the flesh but gives life to the spirit. There are more examples of His teaching methods than I can list here but I recommend the book Teaching Techniques of Jesus by Herman Horne.

It’s good to begin at the beginning. You must get to the foundation of a subject in order to master it. Beginning with principles is the first step toward subject mastery.

You can teach multiple levels because you are teaching the seeds of the subjects , so you can easily adjust it for different ages. More seed for older children, little bites of kernels for  younger ones.

There is proven success teaching from Biblical principles. America’s founding fathers were educated by principles and were able to reason from God’s word. Their excellent reasoning and ability to form our constitution were a result of their Biblical education.

The subjects are alive in His word and it makes each subject exciting and important when you see how it fits into His Story.

You learn how to learn by beginning with the foundation of a subject. The steps to discovering Biblical principles apply to any subject at any time and carry across the curriculum.

Gentle BPA

With all the trappings of Biblical Principle Approach–word studies, 4-Ring, notebooks, the Red Books, Rudiments, etc., you can easily get overwhelmed and frustrated. Your idea of home education is not caught up in books and all that research, but in being with your children, learning alongside them. There is a way to do both.

  • Ease into the whole BPA mindset. It takes time and effort to reformulate your ideas of American Christian education, to get a handle on the terminology and to reflect on what you are learning. Give yourself time. How much time? As much as it takes.
  • Take one subject and deal with that. Don’t take the whole homeschooling elephant in one bite. You’ll just pull something and you’ll still be hungry.
  • Don’t make everything formal. You can ease into word studies and literature studies without making a big announcement. It’s okay to just fold these things into your homeschooling day. Pull out the Bible and the 1828 dictionary and just ask a few questions. The children will do the work for you.
  • Lower your expectations. That seems counter-intuitive to BPA philosophy, at least at first blush. But we are home educators, not classroom Master Teachers. We [probably] teach multiple grades with many subjects and to expect to become a Master Teacher in every subject is asking for a breakdown. Just keep ahead of your students. Learn alongside them. Discover things together as you dig into the Word. It’s amazing how lowered expectations can set you free and actually produce better results in the long run.
  • Think of teaching deep, not broad. The principles expand through the grades, so you get deeper and deeper, as Ms. Dang says, going 20 years deep. It’s not a smattering of learning but more like digging a well. A well your children can draw from as they learn to teach themselves.
  • Take one principle per subject per day. No need to overwhelm baby birds with too much food. It will just fall to the ground. One idea to reflect on and discuss will lead to exciting results.

What challenges do you encounter with the Biblical Principle Approach? If you are new to this methodology, what questions do you have?

Step 5: How to think governmentally

When you see this title you probably immediately think of civil government, maybe even specifically federal government. When you think governmentally it means something else altogether.

To think governmentally is to always be conscious of “who or what is directing, regulating, controlling or restraining” (see Webster’s 1828 dictionary for complete definition). This changes the way you live in the world. And we will explore how your philosophy of government is your philosophy of education.

There are three divine governmental institutions–home (Gen 2:24), church  (Mat. 6:18)and civil government (Gen. 9:6)–that man is to administrate according to God’s Law. For any of these to be called truly Christian, they must be based on Biblical principles and administrated with the Christian idea of God, man and government (see above definition).

A philosophy of government is a philosophy of education. This may be a new concept to you, because education and government do not appear to you to be connected. You may have thought of your statement of faith as sacred and your philosophy of education as secular. This is not biblical (Prov. 1:1-7, Psa. 2:10-12). On the contrary, they are inseparably connected. “The relation between education and government is discerned by reasoning governmentally” (p. 22). The idea of government is a philosophical one. Once you get that revelation, the idea that they are the same will make sense.

As a teacher you fill the three roles of government; lawgiver, judge and king. We plan (give laws), present it (king) and grade performance (judge). The source of wisdom for these functions is determined by your philosophy of education/government. “The Christian view of government conceives government as first internal, causative then external, with Christian civil government the effect as each individual acknowledges the sovereignty of God through Christ by the Holy Spirit” (p. 22)

 Education is first internal and governed by who or what the person accepts as authority. So as you can see “who or what is in control” is of vital importance. The people you allow to influence your child, the philosophy of government of the materials you allow in your home–these are all important things to consider.

Everything works from internal to external. The same is true of education.

internal philosophy of Gov’t.—>philosophy of education—>external form and quality of education—>form and quality of government (its form and functions)

I encourage you to read this step to further study what is being said here. There is more that I have not even touched on, such as the Christian idea of man and government and the pagan idea of man and government, which I may come back to at a later time.