This post is part of the Ultimate Homeschool Guide Series.
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Everything we do begins with discipleship. Raising a family to know Jesus means discipling our children. Discipling our children will lay a strong foundation for a successful homeschool experience. Every act of discipleship creates the framework for everything our children do and believe.
When it comes to homeschooling, whatever method you choose to use, God should always be in the center, in the outskirts, and all throughout everything we do.
So, how do we disciple our children? What practical ways can we teach our children about Jesus and how to live out their faith?
Here are six very practical ways you can disciple your children.
Read the Bible Together
This is at the top of every Christian list for every area of life because it's the bedrock of everything we do and everything we are. None of us can know God without knowing His Word.
Read all the great stories of the Old Testament. Help your children learn from the great heroes in the Bible -- who were really average people, like you and me. But because they loved God, He used them in mighty ways.
Read the Redemption story of the New Testament and teach the new Covenant God has given us, one story at a time. There are endless resources out there if you feel lost on where to begin or feel you're inadequate to teach the Bible because you don't know it well yourself.
We will always be learning more and growing. Don't let that deter you from reading God's word with your children daily.
This is another constant at the top of many Christian lists...though sometimes it's as a last resort.
Be proactive about praying with your children and allow them the opportunity to pray as well. Your prayers don't need to be fancy or long. In fact, Jesus warns against that practice in Matthew 6:7. Just make it personal, because prayer is personal.
Praying together (as a group and with individual children) helps your children build a relationship with the Lord with your guidance. You lead by example.
Bring Scripture into Everyday Life
Don't merely read the Bible everyday and leave the words written on the pages. While you don't need to literally quote scriptures and references, knowing God's word will help you easily bring it into everyday life.
For example, if your children are fighting and you're helping them resolve a conflict, you can can explain that we need to think of others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and forgive each other (Colossians 3:13).
This leads into another opportunity to pray with your children in a very personal way. Doesn't need to be long for God to hear you!
Help Your Children Walk Out What They Learn
As with the above example, our children need us to walk them through how to live out God's word. It isn't something that comes naturally for anyone! We all need a bit of help and encouragement, don't we? How much more do our maturing children need it?
Don't use God's word as a weapon, but as a guide which leads. If we use God's word to threaten, shame, or belittle our children, they will reject it and reject Him. That is not the way of the Lord.
That's not to say some children don't need tough love. And I believe there is a time and a place for hard truths. But even hard truths don't need to be coupled with threats, shame, or put-downs.
Always deliver Gods word with grace and love. Don't water it down, but be gentle and kind.
Utilize Character Studies
I don't know if you've noticed, but these days, good manners are seriously lacking in children and teenagers. I don't know what the deal is with such a trend, but instilling good character in our children should be a major priority.
Today, feelings seem to lead our culture and our children need to know how to control their emotions and handle conflict through the Holy Spirit.
Don't be afraid to invest in some great character building materials. You'd be surprised at how children will walk in what they learn at home. This offers yet another opportunity to use scripture in everyday life.
Hang verses on your walls, post them on the bathroom mirror, make bookmarks with verses on them. Help your children remember how and why good manners are important and values such as integrity, honesty, trust, obedience, love, humility, and honor are to be treasured and sought after.
Walk Out Your Faith in Front of Your Children
Ultimately, they will follow where you lead and this will be the biggest testimony to Christ they may ever encounter in their lives. If your life is not evident of following Jesus, none of the above elements will matter.
I'm not talking about perfection but authenticity in your relationship with the Lord.
You see, homeschooling isn't just about academics. It's about teaching our children to do their best; to do their work with integrity and excellence. To take initiative and to go above and beyond. It's about training them to seek after God on their own (eventually) so they can continue growing a solid relationship with Him and never feel alone.
It's about helping them understand that apart from Him, we can do nothing. Every good thing is from Him. Everything we do is for Him.
It's about giving our children godly purpose and discipleship. That's the framework every Christian homeschool needs.