Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6
This Bible verse is commonly used to support an argument for strict rules and punitive discipline practices. Not only do I firmly believe that this Bible verse was not meant to instruct parents to hit, punish, or control their children (much like my belief that the “spare the rod” verse was also not instructing us to hit or strike our children), but I feel that it is one of many Bible verses that point toward unschooling as a viable and preferable way of parenting.
A quick google search led me to find this note about the “train up a child” verse:
Train – Initiate, and so, educate.
The way he should go – Or, according to the tenor of his way, i.e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individual’s character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child’s temperament and the adaptation of “his way of life” to that. – from Barnes Notes on the Bible
So we are instructed to “educate” our children according to the way which is best suited for his or her individual character and temperament.
Is it up to the state to determine my child’s character? No.
Is it up to some random teacher who will only know my child for nine months to determine my child’s “way of life”? Absolutely not.
Is it up to the makers of (insert random title here) homeschool curriculum to figure out my child’s temperament? Nope.
I believe that it is up to my husband and me to determine the way in which our children are naturally bent. We are the people who best know our children. But more importantly, we are the people who are praying most often for them and therefore the Holy Spirit is able to show us what we should be exposing our children to (or not exposing them to, as the case may be) based upon their destiny in life.
The Holy Spirit will tell me what books to strew, what television programs to introduce them to, what museums we should visit, and even what foods to feed them. Recently I’ve felt led to sign my daughter up for an affordable dance class (which she’s excited about), to strew the environment with Junie B. Jones books (which has brought about not only a new book addiction for both older kids but yet another level upon which they can connect with one another), and to rally on behalf of my oldest that his dad take him to the local Renaissance Faire so that they might connect with one another over their mutual love for pirates and weaponry.
There is no way that an education taking place under the influence of a schoolish mindset or in a school setting can consistently be this individualized and deeply influenced by the only entity who truly knows for what our children are being trained up to do one day.
We are all being trained for something… some big battle. Some larger-than-life purpose. Maybe we’ll not know what that purpose is here on this earth but I believe that this proverb indicates that whatever training we receive as children is important enough to be needed throughout our entire lifespan.
Do I want to waste my children’s time by “training” them to regurgitate useless facts that they could easily look up in a matter of seconds if they ever needed the information? I certainly do not. Times tables and capitals are unlikely to be helpful to them in the same way that following their passions and interests will be when it comes to fighting their big battle one day.
I want my children to be fully prepared for whatever their Heavenly Father has in store for them. Therefore, I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to me whatever it is that they need to know and experience so that I can one day know that I “trained them up” for their life’s purpose.