When I was in elementary, I spent hours hiding away in libraries, reading as much as I could before my parents made me leave. Looking back on my life, I can see how certain books shaped who I am today. Most people have at least one book that has profoundly influenced them. If reading has this much power, then learning to study literature is one of the most important parts of a child’s development. Reading is so much more than just understanding what words mean. It has the ability to shape children’s minds and experiences in positive ways.
You homeschool because your child’s faith is important to you. We want to support you in training up your child. These blog posts show how to give your child a biblical worldview of each subject.
It’s that time of year again—time to prepare for the new school year! Your next few weeks will be full of ordering textbooks, tests, worksheets. Shopping for the necessary school supplies. Mapping out the year’s schedule and determining start and end dates. Perhaps you’ve been talking to your children about the upcoming school year to mentally prepare them. Maybe they’ve started arranging their desks or other school spaces. As we make all these preparations, let’s take some time to focus on the most important way we can prepare—spiritually.
Beginning a new academic year is both exciting and challenging, and we need God’s help! So before we become engrossed in all the organizational details, let’s set aside time with our family to prepare our hearts as well as our minds. If our main goal in homeschooling is to glorify God, there’s no better way to prepare than by committing our school year to Him. [Read more…] about Preparing Your Heart for the New School Year
In April, Renton Rathbun, a former college professor and current Biblical Worldview Specialist at BJU Press, joined Heidi St. John on her podcast. They came together to talk about the agenda of secular colleges and universities to undermine the faith of their students. While that agenda is very real, it may not manifest itself in the way you might expect. Christian young people are expecting to go into secular universities, trade schools, and work places and have their faith blatantly mocked or rejected. But what they encounter is something that Renton calls sophisticated unbelief.
Sophisticated unbelief is a tactic that university professors take towards students with faith-based backgrounds. They come alongside these students and appear to support and value faith while also emphasizing that that student’s faith does not apply in the classroom.
The Dangers of Sophisticated Unbelief
These professors will be genuine, likeable, intelligent, and approachable people. These men and women are not villains who will publically mock and condemn your children for their beliefs. In fact, they will see themselves as the heroes your children need. From their perspective, they’re there to rescue your children from a primitive and backwards worldview. The danger comes in when they divide what they’re teaching in the classroom from your children’s biblical worldview. They want your children to have a two-story view of the world, because if they can disconnect the secular world from the Christian world, your children won’t be able to argue about where their worldview applies. And if your children aren’t prepared to encounter sophisticated unbelief, it’s easy for them to see how this intelligent and friendly new authority in their lives might be right about some things.
As Renton points out, the best defense is to teach your children to truly study the Scriptures. Not just to know the Scriptures, but to see how they connect to all areas of their lives—math, science, history, and the English language arts. And to do that, they will need to be able to apply critical thinking skills to the Scriptures and to the subjects that they’re studying.
Studying the Bible and developing thinking skills will enable your children to defend their faith. Listen to the full discussion between Renton and Heidi for more!
As a homeschool parent, you want your children to grow in discerning between good and evil. As you evaluate your curriculum for the year, it’s important to consider not just your children’s learning styles and preferences but also how their curriculum is shaping their worldview. Biblical integration within the curriculum is an integral part to developing a Christian worldview.
With so many secular voices in education, how can you determine the quality of the Christian education you’re giving your children? We’ve created a scale to help you evaluate the quality of biblical worldview integration in your curriculum. You should be able to use your curriculum to capture your children’s minds and hearts with a love for God and His Word.
Level 0 – No Biblical Integration
Level 0 does not mean that there is no mention of the Bible. Rather, there is no connection between the Bible and the lesson materials. Curriculum at this level include Bible reading and prayer separate from the lesson, and so claim to give your children a Christian education. Since a biblical worldview has no influence on the lesson itself, it’s not really a Christian education.
Level 1 – Referencing the Bible
In this level, the Bible may be present in the lessons, but it doesn’t change or reshape learning. It primarily just reminds children that the Bible is there. It doesn’t help children to think more deeply about biblical principles or to consider how they can live out the Bible today.
1a – Biblical Analogies
Curriculums at this level look for areas where a biblical concept and a subject overlap. This desire for overlap creates analogies like a butterfly’s metamorphosis to illustrate a believer’s sanctification. Another example is using a plus sign to represent the cross because Jesus’ righteousness is added to our account. These analogies have no inherent connection to the materials. With only Bible analogies, children will never understand how Scripture is relevant to everyday life.
1b – Biblical Examples
Level 1b looks for instances of various subjects in the Bible. A curriculum might ask students to look for evidence of pi in the building of the temple during math class. They might even use the story of Joseph and Judah to study dramatic irony. Using this sublevel shows how the Bible is relevant in various areas of study. However, if a curriculum never goes deeper than this level, the Bible has not yet influenced your children’s real-world learning.
Level 2 – Responding with the Bible
This level involves using Scripture to shape the way your children interact with and study the world. The Bible becomes essential in their critical-thinking skills. Children will need to apply what they know about the Bible to their studies and their everyday choices.
2a – Serving with the Discipline
God issued a command in Genesis 1:28 to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” He also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves in Matthew 22:39. Curriculums at level 2a show children how to follow these commands in each subject. Dominion Modeling segments in BJU Press math materials open doors for you to discuss how to live out God’s Creation Mandate. For example, in chapter 4 of our Algebra 1 textbook, these questions will prepare your children to be good stewards of money by teaching them to understand interest rates. To serve others, your children might also learn how to apply linear functions to build a wheelchair access ramp.
2b – Worshiping with the Discipline
This level turns learning opportunities into worship opportunities. You might implement worship during schoolwork time by having your children write poems praising God. They could follow the example of the authors of the Psalms, or practice a poetry form they learned recently. Teaching that God is creator of everything allows us to see His handiwork in every field of study. Once we can recognize His work, we must point the glory back to Him.
Level 3 – Rebuilding with the Bible
Level 3 is the deepest level of biblical integration. In this level, the Bible becomes the standard for how your children will study and understand every subject. Taking a secular curriculum and making it Christian by pointing out the errors can never be a level 3 biblically integrated curriculum. A secular curriculum begins with the premise that God and Scripture must be absent from education. In order to have a level 3 curriculum, the materials must be built on the premise that God is the ultimate standard for education. Materials designed with this level in mind help alleviate the burden on you to constantly help your children separate the lies from the truth while they are learning.
3a – Evaluating the Premises
A curriculum incorporating level 3a compares the content of each subject to the standard of the Bible. This process helps your children to question what is accepted as truth in secular thinking. For example, the Bible challenges the assumption that math is completely objective and certain. In science, the Bible also challenges modern scientists’ assumptions of uniformitarianism. When the Bible becomes the standard of the curriculum, your children will learn to reject the modern premise that humans are the ultimate standard for truth.
3b – Rebuilding the Discipline
The most important step of biblical integration is starting with the Bible as the foundation for learning. For example, by making the Bible the foundation, we can affirm the historicity of Genesis 1-11 as the beginning of our world and human culture. We then can build on the philosophical basis of Genesis as we study history and science. Because we begin with the truth about Creation, Fall, Redemption, we can place each subject your children study in its proper sphere, neither unduly elevating or neglecting them.
Many people in our culture want to downplay the relevance of Scripture in every sphere of life. They believe that religion is okay as long as it stays at home and at church on Sundays. At BJU Press we design our materials to show your children that the Bible is the foundation for all of life, from family devotions to playtime. Each product we produce is built from the premise of the truth of God’s Word in order to help you shape your children’s minds with a biblical worldview.
As homeschooling parents, we understand the importance of clear communication. If our children don’t get what we’re trying to teach them in school and life, they’ll struggle academically, socially, and spiritually. We also understand that we have more opportunities than others to develop good communication with our children. We have them home with us all day. Each day we have hundreds of opportunities to create healthy communication habits for ourselves and for them. We all have room for improvement in our communication habits, so let’s look at some tips to help us become better communicators.
First, know what you want to say. You’ve heard the old adage, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” That’s a good rule to follow! Be as clear as you can when telling your children what you expect them to do. For example, there’s a big difference between saying “finish your math” and saying “do problems 1 through 10 on page 30.”
If we don’t tell our children exactly what we expect from them, they’re likely to get confused and frustrated. Also, we can’t always assume that our children understood or even heard all of our instructions. Distractions—other children, pets, a large house, or guests—can override what you’re trying to communicate. A good way to make sure they understand is to ask them to repeat what you just told them.
Be mindful of where you are and what’s going on around you. Background noises in the room you’re in, or another room, can make it much harder for your children to hear and understand what you say, or vice versa. As often as possible, try to be in the same room as your children when you’re talking. Of course, that goes without saying when you’re teaching, but it’s a good practice to have all the time. It can be fun to holler down the hallway to talk, but not at the expense of clear communication.
We’re surrounded by things that suck up our attention and block out the rest of the world. Buzzing phones and blaring TVs, crying children, dishwashers, washing machines—there are so many noises surrounding us at all times. Those noises can be the death of clear communication. If you want to have a meaningful conversation with your children, make sure you have their full attention. If they’re distracted while you’re talking to them, chances are, they won’t remember what you say.
On the flip side, make sure your children have your full attention when they want to talk to you. Texting, talking on the phone, scrolling through Facebook or checking email can wait when your children are trying to talk with you. They need to know you care enough to stop, look them in the eye, and listen. If you have to finish a text or an email before you can give your full attention, use a signal to let them know that you know they want to speak and that you’ll stop and listen to them as soon as you can.
Watch Your Tone
How we say something is just as important as what we say. It can be hard to teach children how to control their tones, especially if we struggle to do the same ourselves. Our tone of voice can communicate something entirely different from our words, and it certainly affects the way our children respond to us and how we respond to them. Children are excellent at picking up on attitudes and thoughts we have hidden in our tone. As impatient or frustrated as you might be with a situation or a certain kind of behavior, remember that letting that frustration into your tone will change the meaning of everything you say. A reminder to finish homework can come across as a punishment or an expression of disappointment—even if you didn’t mean either.
Remember the exhortation in Colossians 3:21. According to the Amplified Bible’s translation, it says, “Do not provoke or irritate or exasperate your children . . . so they will not lose heart and become discouraged or unmotivated [with their spirits broken.]” One unkind remark can undo hours of loving instruction. One snappy retort can erect a wall of resentment between you and your child. We must rely on the power of God to help us. Only He can master our tongues (and voices) so the law of kindness can reign in them. And when we do speak in a harsh tone of voice, we need to make it right as soon as possible. Immediately confess it to the Lord and ask your child to forgive you. Yes, it’s humbling (as I can well testify!), but if we are to maintain a right relationship with our children, it’s imperative. The best way to show our children how to control their tongue is to become masters of our own.
Communication in Body Language
If you have a teenager, you’re more than aware of how frustrating it is when your children roll their eyes or sigh at everything you say. It’s like they’re shouting “I don’t care what you say” or “you can’t tell me what to do.” In addition to our tones, what we’re saying, and our environment, we also need to be mindful of what we’re communicating through facial expressions, posture, and gestures. And we need to help our children understand what their bodies communicate, too.
How we use our bodies while we’re talking can influence our conversations in either a positive or negative way. For example, try not to cross your arms, roll your eyes, sigh, shake your head, or tap your foot during a discussion; all of these gestures can undermine healthy communication. By using positive gestures, like nodding or leaning forward, we can encourage a healthy conversation despite what either party might be feeling.
The Main Goal for Communication
Remember the purpose of communication: to glorify God by building others up with our words. God has given us the gift of language so we can encourage, motivate, and inspire others toward greater Christlikeness. He has also given us His own Word, Holy Spirit, and power to guide our communication. A wonderful scripture to pray each day is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
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Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.