Be Your Children’s Primary Educator

Back to May 2016 Ed Reporter

Be Your Children’s Primary Educator

First published in Deeply Rooted Magazine on February 2, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

by Sharon McKeeman

I have a card from my children’s charter school that says I’m their primary educator. That’s me, a card-carrying Primary Educator. And so are you. If your kids go to a charter school like mine, where two days a week state-funded teachers teach them and three days a week you homeschool them, or if you homeschool your kids five days a week, or if your kids go to a private or public school every day and you work a career or stay at home, you are also their primary educator. As parents, we are the teachers and examples that have the most impact on our children’s hearts. Yikes!

kids at parkSo whether you know it or not, you are homeschooling. You’re shepherding. Every moment at home, your children are learning. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a scary thought — a scary reality. Even now as I type this, I feel ashamed, because I know what type of example I’m setting: an imperfect one.

But thank God for that. Because this world is going to tell them they have to perform. It’s going to tell them to get excellent grades, look good, be successful, make a lot of money, and above all, never fail. All of these expectations will take up every minute of your child’s time, keeping them from exploring the simple beauty of the world that is their birthright. And it will keep them chained to shame and striving — instead of free in God’s grace.

We are all glorious creations with amazing potential and we are all broken. So let go of feeling ashamed of the imperfect example you set and use it instead. When my patience fails again, for the twentieth time in a day, I get down on my knees and show my children what repentance looks like. I tell them I’m sorry, giving them the opportunity to practice forgiveness. When I get up morning after morning and try again to nurture and teach them, I am showing them that God has given us resilience. His mercies are new every morning and our failures fade in the light of His glory. He calls us to no more or less worthy of a calling than to love each other, moment by moment in all of our mess.

And He calls us to make space to see and experience His good gifts. It may not feel like you’re moving mountains when you sit down to eat a meal around the table together or read a book before bed, but you are literally waging a revolution through these simple acts. A walk to talk and explore nature with your child is as courageous as fighting on the front lines of a battle. And you don’t have to be perfect to do these things. In fact you can only hold relevance and meaning in your child’s life if you let them see that you’re in just as much need of Christ’s saving grace as them or as any of us.

What more important lesson can we teach them? Spelling and mathematics are important, and along with their teachers we will, of course, help them master those subjects. But if we don’t share with our kids the pattern on a butterfly’s wing and the rhythm of grace, then who will?

“And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Sharon McKeeman is an author, educator, artist and photographer. She and her husband live in southern California where they homeschool their three children. Follow her at SharonMcKeeman.com.

Deeply Rooted Magazine was founded by Dianne Jago in 2014, to provide Christian women with beautiful content presented in a curated manner. The quarterly publication offers everything from devotionals to fashion to recipes.