Today I was walking with Elsie and enjoying the lovely fall weather and sunshine that finally emerged from its long sojourn behind the clouds. We passed the elementary school a few blocks from our new house and stopped to watch the kids playing outside. I was thinking, as I watched, about social and emotional development, moral convictions, prejudices, and all manner of other philosophies related to the raising of children.
I feel a fairly strong conviction that I should homeschool my children. Some of my reasons are closely related to my last post (passing on of moral values and Godly training), while another of my reasons is academic. One on one teaching is just more efficient than classroom teaching. Not only can the child learn at his own pace, but he can pursue interests as he has them, and can do it all excellently in just a few hours a day
However, as I watched the children playing, I made some observations. A few girls about 10 years old came up under pretense of playing, but really to see Elsie more closely (which amused me) and I heard one make a comment about losing weight and I noticed the childish, but worldly 'attitude' they spoke with. Two things crossed my mind. One was protection...and the other was over-protection!
I have know many home-schooled children and while I am not pretending for a minute that this is a rule that holds true for all, I know that, very often, the sweet and innocent tones and play of those children are distinct from those of their counterparts who are exposed to vast amounts of television and other media as well as parents who demonstrate less-than-godly speech and behaviors. I have heard people say 'oh, I could tell you were homeschooled!' to such children many times. Very often, these children are obviously different, in a good way. Accustomed to adult conversation as well as play and study with their siblings, they often have close and faithful bonds to their brothers and sisters and are able to have mature conversations with adults. Again, this rule does not hold, by any means, across all homeschooling families, and neither does it never apply to any of their public-school counterparts. It is merely a general observation that I think many people would agree with.
I consider this sweetness and innocence a very desirable characteristic to cultivate in my children, however I am also aware of some general (again, 'general'!) characteristics of some homeschoolers that I find to be less desirable. Children are quick to pick up on prejudices of their parents and children whose parents are not proactive about exposing them to children of various backgrounds and talking about them in a loving manner, may end up thinking that they are somehow better than the other children or that the others are doing something 'wrong'.
This can be a tough thing to deal with. On one hand, parents are trying to teach their children that they are different from the world. They are set apart to be holy unto God and their speech, attitudes, and habits should be noticeably different from the worlds. However, Jesus was about as different and holy (set apart) as they come, and yet he mingled with 'sinners' and had compassion on them.
At a young age, children are not discerning enough to know the difference without very careful guidance. They need to be taught, that, like Jesus, they can be pure and holy, yet loving, compassionate, and, above all, humble!
Is this not something we struggle with even as adults? I sure do! How quick I am to find prejudiced and judgmental thoughts creeping into my head as I view people of a particular skin color or socio-economic status, or even speech pattern or dress! While sometimes these thoughts are true, are accompanied with a spirit of love and humility? Ah, the delicate balance between truth and love!
Anyhow, as I stood, watching the children, many of them dark-skinned, due to the largely Hispanic demographic of the area, and many others dressed in a way I wouldn't want my ten-year old girl dressed, I pondered my ability to pass onto my child a sweet, innocent, and truly humble and loving demeanor mixed with true morals and strong convictions and murmured a prayer for help.
A godly spirit in m my children must begin with my own attitude and then be cultivated with careful exposure to all types of different people. Once again, God help me in this mammoth task!