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How Then Should We Educate?

Tips on How To Prepare Your Child for the Real World.

By Kysa Gilkerson

March, 2003

I am the product of government school education (brainwashing). I also admit that when I first began homeschooling, I mimicked the school system. I bought textbooks and gave tests. My homeschooling journey has been as much about educating--and reeducating--myself as it has been about my children. My many years in the public school system got me locked in the forest and I could not see the trees.

I think ALL of us as parents need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Not "will my child have completed the right courses in high school", but rather what kind of an adult am I raising my child to be? What must I teach my child before he leaves my household? I would argue in favor of the following goals.

1. A disciple of Christ. I think this is something that can only truly be taught at home. And it needs to be "caught" not "taught". God told the Israelites to teach their children "when you lie down and when you get up, when you walk along the roadside and when you sit in your gate." I think he meant that a relationship with God can only be modeled; it is not something to be learned in the abstract.

2. Take care of a household. Sometime after they are 18, every child will be on their own. Wherever this takes them, it will most likely include living and working in the USA. Our children need to keep house, prepare meals, clean, do laundry--boys as well as girls. They also need to handle the money of a household. They need to understand bills, checking accounts, credit cards, loans, and taxes. This also should include household repairs, or how to find a repairman, car repairs or how to find them, and information about insurance.

3. A good citizen. While this may be different for different people, I think there are some core values here that everyone will agree are important. Our children need to understand both the federal government and their individual rights and responsibilities, as well as state and local government. They need to know how to register to vote and how to vote in their community. They need to know how and where to go for information about both local and national elections. They need to know how to keep informed of international issues, as well.

4. A productive worker. Our children can go down any of a thousand different career paths. But all those paths have a few things in common. They need to understand the value of their responsibilities to their employer and others in their workplace. They need to understand the satisfaction of a job well done even without monetary compensation. Good work habits are the most important skill an applicant can bring to the job--and they are best learned as children, not adults.

5. How to learn. No matter WHAT our children do while still under our roof, there will be many new things they will need to learn over their lifetimes. Being able to find and learn new information is perhaps the most important skill we can give our children.

As I look at this list--curriculum, credits, diplomas--none of that really matters. Yes, there will be some books, maybe even textbooks, that help towards these goals. But they should be a path to a goal, not the goal itself. We as parents need to back up and see the entire forest. We need to set real life goals, then help our children toward those goals. And I would also argue that our children will be more willing to learn when they see the big picture--and why these things are important.

Many thanks to Kysa for sharing her thoughts with us here at! Resources Related to This Article

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