Discipline. It really is not a word we like, but it is one of the most important words in our homeschooling vocabulary. It is a character trait that increases in importance as we age. My body demands far more attention to stay healthy as I near fifty than it did at twenty! Most worthy activities require discipline to see them to completion. An efficient homeschool demands discipline from students and adults.
The most challenging aspects of homeschooling—in my experience—have not come from the academic side of the education equation. The greatest difficulties stem from ‘people’ issues. I believe life will show that the greatest blessings of this homeschool effort will show forth in the ways our character (all of us in the family—child and adult) has been transformed in the process. Let’s take a moment and look at discipline in particular.
In the early years of homeschooling, discipline mostly looks like: PARENTING! Truly, home education IS simply parenting on steroids. Instilling discipline in young children is an absolute necessity for parents who intend to home educate. Back-talk, disobedience and open rebellion prevents learning. Proverbs admonishes us as teachers to choose our words wisely—and instruct in the nature of our child—but it also has much to stay about a teachable spirit. We do much to help our children learn to be teachable when we teach discipline (through obedience). Cooperation from our young ones is a definite exercise of discipline for them.
On the parenting side, discipline looks like doing what you really don’t want to do—or putting off what you would rather do. (It is not much different than the child’s issue, is it?) That great sale at the grocery store may tempt us to slide the dreaded math lesson off another day. Learning to make school the priority and refusing distractions is our part of discipline. Helping family and friends understand that school IS a priority is a discipline in itself—and a topic we will tackle on another day. We teach discipline by example.
Are you seeing the beauty of discipline? As we practice it, it will become dear to us. The accomplishments ARE worth it. Watching our children discipline themselves to press on for a goal is a joy. Seeing them become Disciples of Christ—willing to endure hardship for His glory—requires a character that embraces discipline. Every challenge we face in life demands the practice of discipline. The homeschool experience provides us teachable moments daily for this important characteristic. Point to the great good that comes with slugging through hard times in Algebra…don’t argue about whether a particular ‘fact’ will ever be needed. Simply direct your attention (and your child’s) to the deeper truths being practiced—and instilled in the character. Discipline is only one of many character traits enhanced through home education, but it is a vital one.