by Diana Campbell
I have a dear friend who owns an English garden. It is filled with all types of flowers, climbing roses, and heavy-blossomed peonies. Colorful hydrangeas, glorious delphiniums, and perfectly shaped boxwood hedges line the pristine walkways. Her garden is the result of days of planning and months of planting, followed by meticulous care. It would be lovely if her garden just grew perfectly all by itself, but it doesn’t. Day after day, hour after toilsome hour, my friend works faithfully—weeding, watering, inspecting, pruning, fertilizing, and debugging.
Our families are like a garden. The benefits of homeschooling can be compared to harmonious relationships are the result of much planning and planting followed by vigilant care. Any neglect on our part and a crop of weeds quickly appears or an infestation of bugs settles in. Families, like gardens, benefit from great amounts of time put into them, and they require wisdom and diligence to achieve a beautiful result. We often hear about the academic benefits of homeschooling, but really, the luxury of time is the bigger benefit we have together as families, time in which we are investing in our children’s lives.
Time to Provide the Right Soil (Psalm 1)
One unique benefit of time is the hours afforded us to instill righteous, godly thinking into the hearts and souls of our children. This is the foundation upon which every other aspect of their lives will grow. God’s truth is the rich soil that allows a plant to grow deep and abiding roots that are necessary to withstand life’s challenges. We can foster love for God and love for each other by praying together, reading the Bible aloud, and studying God’s Word. As we take time to answer questions and teach our children Bible doctrine, they come to know and love the Lord. Though all Christian families try to do this, just the fact that we are with our children all day allows us more opportunities.
When we homeschool, we can be more easily involved with our children’s friends, too. Proverbs has strong warnings about choosing friends wisely. (Proverbs 13:20) We all know the influence of good or evil companions, but it is difficult to watch and limit friendships that are formed outside our jurisdiction. When we are with our kids, we know their friends. The friendships that we encouraged our children to form within the homeschool community fostered lifelong, godly relationships that have continued well into adulthood.
Other ways to instill faith in our children is to read missionary biographies or watch DVDs from groups such as the Torchlighter biographies, The Bible Project, and Institute for Creation Research. All of these were catalysts for further discussion and discipleship in our family.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7(Amplified) is God’s instruction to us: “And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be first in your own minds and hearts; You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the minds and hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.” What is the biggest asset we have to best fulfill this verse? Time together.
The Benefit of Homeschooling
Time to Water (I Thessalonians 2:7-12)
Life-giving water replenishes energy and brings new growth to plants, and in a similar way, we are to nourish and encourage our children. Self sacrifice comes to mind here as we serve the needs of our family. Whether it is making nutritious meals or having friends over for a play date, these encouragements bring life and energy to our children. Homeschooling allows us the time and flexibility to set our own schedule to facilitate growth. It might be a trip to the park, a field trip, or sitting to have a cup of tea together, but each emotional deposit is strengthening. For strong plants to grow there must be continual nurturing and support.
Watering also includes the idea of encouraging words. Proverbs 18:4 and 21 says, “The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook,” and “The tongue has the power of life.” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (NET Bible) Building self esteem, giving comfort, and choosing to listen and understand are all aspects that promote growth and maturity in our children. All of these take time. God told Aaron to bless the people saying, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you: the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)
We have extra time to choose to use to offer the water of blessing that inspires our children to flourish.
Time for Weeding and Pruning (John 15:1-17)
Jesus said in John 15:2(Amplified), “He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.” Here we see the importance of training and discipline. Because our children are with us all day, we have a first-hand view of their attitudes and actions. Sometimes their conduct is exemplary and we commend such good character; however, we must also be faithful to correct errant ways and train them in conflict resolution and forgiveness. Guiding children to repentance, forgiveness, and grace is a life-long gift we give them. Training them in diligence and responsibility is essential for them to be productive adults. Homeschooling affords us hourly opportunities to keep them on the straight and narrow path that brings joy and blessing. A clear conscience bolsters boldness and courage. Sin must be dealt with at every level lest its poison destroys the plant.
Hebrews 12:11(NIV) says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Time to Delight (I Corinthians 12)
Another joy of homeschooling is delighting in our children and watching our children delighting in life. Just as a beautiful garden inspires us, so we have the privilege to extend to our children joyful exploration. Perhaps they love music. We can give them the long hours to practice their instrument. Some children thrill in cars, or airplanes, or building things. Homeschooling allows the time to explore, take apart, create, or experience areas of personal interest. I know a young woman who pursued photography and began her own home business. Others have pursued dance or computer programming etc, and become experts in skillful industry.
In addition to delight-directed learning, homeschooling’s flexibility allows more time for relationship building. As a grandmother of ten grandchildren, I rejoice that the grandchildren are available to spend time with me. We have been able to go on family vacations during the school year, take them on mission trips, and regularly enjoy many hours reading or doing activities together. The children have been able to spend a lot of time with their siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles because they are not constrained to a particular school calendar. We have been able to work as a family to facilitate large outreach activities as everyone participates to help. Our son has been able to bring our grandson with him to business meetings during the day to expose him to the adult world outside the home.
God-Glorifying Result (I Corinthians 3:6-7)
Isn’t a beautiful garden a spectacular sight? Does it not make you wonder with awe at the Creator? The delicate lily, the sweet smelling rose, the stately delphiniums—each and every flower declares the majesty of God. A beautiful garden is a place you like to linger in. Likewise, a beautiful, well-tended family is a place you want to be. Obedient children, kindness, the character of the home with orderliness evident, these are a striking contrast to the world. Love and thoughtfulness are too rare in society. Homeschooling gives us the advantage of extra time to nurture and grow good thoughts, words, and deeds. We have the luxury to slow our pace and model love and grace. This is what God commends. This brings Him glory and shows friends and neighbors what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus. (John15:8) A God-honoring home is attractive and evangelistic in its essence.
However, we do have to remember that the blessings and benefits of homeschooling are only as good as the effort we put forth. We can sit and look at an untended garden, but it won’t stay beautiful unless we are diligent to plan, plant, weed, and water.
Our distinct advantage as homeschoolers is that we have more time than most. Let us purpose to use that time wisely, counseling and guiding the precious ones under our care.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9NIV)
Diana and her husband, Bruce, a pastor at Reston Bible Church, homeschooled their four children. They live in Leesburg, Virginia, with their eldest son and daughter-in-law and their six children. A happy grandmother of ten, Diana spends a lot of time enjoying the grandchildren and helping where she can. Watching the next generation love the Lord and following in His ways brings them great joy! This article first appeared in The Virginia Home Educator, Winter 2020.