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Homeschooling is Like Growing a Garden

God personally planted and prepared a garden for Adam and Eve: the Garden of Eden. This life-giving garden continually provided sustenance and a place of companionship, but Adam and Eve were also entrusted with the responsibility of caring for and nurturing its growth. This picture of preparation, love, and responsibility frames the very acts we replicate as we homeschool our children.

Some plants are resilient and do well in a variety of climates while others require a well-controlled environment. Therefore, the first step in planting a garden is to know your plants’ needs. Likewise, you will need to know your child in order to succeed at cultivating a knowledgeable, loving, caring, and compassionate spirit. The two most important elements to accomplishing this objective are your desire to know your child and your willingness to invest your time. As you invest time in your child, carefully observe his needs, personality, strengths, and weaknesses.

Once the gardener has knowledge of his plant’s needs, he can select a prime location that would provide the right amount of light. Then he can begin his work on preparing the soil to give his plant the best possible environment in which to mature and develop. Likewise, equipped with the knowledge of your child’s learning style, habits, needs, and unique personality traits, you can create a loving and nurturing environment that will help your child’s love, understanding, and compassion grow. Meet with God in prayer and seek his guidance. Then, diligently seek out the best ways to help your child learn, develop good character, and grow in faith.

A gardener must continually assess each plant’s health by evaluating its growth, size, structure, and leaf color for any signs of disease, decay, or pests. When a gardener identifies a problem, he can research possible causes to the problem and develop solutions that will mitigate it, enabling him to nurse the plant back to better health. Like a gardener, homeschool parents regularly assess their children’s spiritual, emotional, and physical health, continually searching for ways in which they can address any needs that arise.

As a homeschool parent, you will experience tough days with seemingly plentiful opportunities to address matters inside your child’s heart. You will have days in which you will find yourself refereeing sibling rivalry. You will face days when you are continually encouraging your child to concentrate, reminding him of the rewards that come from hard work and study. And there will be days when you or your child have less than an enthusiastic attitude toward learning.

As a homeschool parent, you will also experience extremely delightful days. Some days your child will show great interest in learning, leading you to search for new content to feed a knowledge-hungry soul. You will experience moments when you witness your child sharing, offering a friendly smile, or lending a helping hand to someone in need. Some days will be filled with excitement as you see your child’s face light up with joy as he begins to understand a new concept.

A gardener must never give up, but rather continually prepare his plants for a plentiful harvest. There will be days of hard labor where he pulls weeds, but there will also be rewarding days like those where he sees budding flowers that will eventually grow luscious fruit.

A gardener cannot see rapid change in the growth of a plant from one day to the next. As more time passes though, he will notice small changes slowly take place. Over the weeks and months ahead, the gardener will witness the growth of the stems and leaves, the beauty of the flowers, the seemingly magical event of pollination, and the beginning stages of the fruit and vegetable growth. Like the seeds planted in a garden, your child will also take time to grow. You, as a parent, may not see noticeable changes from one day to the next. But as you look back, reflecting on your child’s growth as the months and years elapse, you will realize your child’s maturity, love, compassion, and knowledge have all progressed.

Like a gardener, you will benefit from the beauty of blossoms along the way. Through homeschooling, you will enjoy the increased amount of family time and interconnection even as you address everyday matters pertaining to your child's heart-based character and feelings. I assure you that the days spent reminding your child to be compassionate and kind are just as valuable as those days when you are helping your child learn a new concept. Since you are spending an increased amount of time with your child while you help him learn, you will enjoy witnessing your child’s virtuous character develop. You will also share in his successes. Never give up hope that all you do will eventually help your child develop a loving, caring, knowledgeable, and compassionate spirit while also preparing him to use his gained knowledge and God-given gifts throughout his life of service.

By the end of the growing season, a gardener will see that his plants have matured. They have become abundant with fruits and vegetables and are ready for harvest. As the years pass and you near the end of your season of homeschooling, you will enjoy the reward of witnessing your child venture out into the world filled with love for others, compassion, knowledge, understanding, and his God given gifts. He will have a sense of purpose and fulfillment as he uses all of it to help others in ever-expanding ways.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19 NIV)

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