What do I want for each of my children? I long for each of them to be faithful, compassionate, hardworking, educated individuals; possessing a clear sense of direction towards their personal mission in life. Today, we live in a “conveyor-belt” society that naturally consumes our family’s time, energy, thoughts and values. “People sup together, play together, travel together but they do not think together. Hardly any homes have any intellectual life whatsoever.” (Pg 66 from A Thomas Jefferson Education by Dr. Oliver DeMille) How do Richard and I remove our family off this absorbing conveyor-belt and promote intellectual life into our home?
First, we must set forth a strong foundation of our family’s faith and belief in God. The simplest way for us to do this is by slowing our lives down. When we become too busy and distracted by outside events (even too many play dates) our time is quickly eaten up and the spiritually things tend to go by the wayside first. These distractions may all be “good” things, but the spiritual teachings we can share with our children are “better.” When your life is quiet and simplified, it allows the spirit to return to your home and all are edified within.
Second, we wish for each of our children to have compassionate relationships. Teaching them academics is very important to us, but how to be Christ-like is the most valuable lesson a child could ever learn.
Next, it is a joyful task to lead and guide each child into the “real world” of a productive adult. My curriculum involves: laundry, dishes, cooking, gardening, reading, singing, playing the piano and violin, sewing and caring of our baby. Richard’s includes: mowing the lawn, car maintenance, studying, and household repairs. Naturally children love to “play” at the work you do, so let them come along for the ride. When I do the dishes, the younger ones play with dishes at our feet while the older ones contribute to the chore. Once a work ethic is established through daily responsibilities, it can easily be transferred to academics latter.
Finally, we desire each of our children to become genuinely educated. As parents, we must inspire them to educate themselves. Richard’s strongest impression he felt after reading this book was that he was not fully educated after all. We, as parents are trying to fill in the gaps of our own education by reading the classics ourselves. Although it is challenging, we have found that as Oliver DeMille states, “You as the reader awaken. Your exposure to greatness changes you: your ideas are bigger, your dreams wilder, your plans more challenging, your faith more powerful.” (Pg 71) Already our excitement to study has begun to inspire our children to educate themselves.
Every moment we are with our children they are watching, absorbing and mimicking us. What lessons do we want them to learn? As parents we must consciously exemplify the attributes of faith, compassion, work and education in our home because: “Indeed, coaching occurs one way or another, even if just by bad example or ambivalence.” (Pg 89) In our home class is never dismissed!