Classical Christian education

I would recommend to virtually any parent asking one simple question to the person heading their children’s school: “What is your goal for my children when they graduate from this school?”

There is a good article by Bradley Green on the objective and benefits of a classical education here.  For much modern education there is little or no overall philosphy of what we are trying to achieve with our children.

Much of what comes under the label of education merely seeks to get children to an arbitrary, and some would argue ever-decreasing, academic standard.  Given what God has instructed us regarding our responsibilities to our children, Christian parents ought to desire more than this for their child’s education.  Green rightly says,

Classical schools—at their best—hold that education is ultimately about the formation of a certain kind of person. While different schools may disagree on this or that pedagogical theory, or this or that curriculum choice, virtually any classical school desires to reach back and recover the notion that education is about human formation and transformation.

The best Christian education sees this task as a transformative endeavor that prepares students for (1) a meaningful, faithful, wise, virtuous life in the present, and also for (2) our ultimate destiny—to one day see God face-to-face and know him fully. Once we begin to grasp that true education is best construed as a person-forming endeavor, we are able to see more clearly the link between the gospel and education.

How we should pray for more schools like this in the UK.


Books on parenting

Somebody asked me last week for a list of  books / resources we’ve found helpful on parenting from a Biblical viewpoint.  Granted we’ve only had four and a bit years to work through all of the wisdom to be found below, we would recommend the following:

Standing on the Promises: What has God called us to as Christian parents?  Wilson’s book helps in thinking through establishing a faithful Christian culture within our homes that will shape our children as they grow to maturity.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart: With a similar approach and message to his brother’s DVDs (see below), Tedd got there first.  This is a great book in helping you think how to deal with your child’s heart and not just trying to get them to conform to your desired behavioural requirements.

Getting to the heart of Parenting: Paul  Tripp’s DVD is a series of accessible seminars on the need for parents to deal with their child’s heart rather than using their greater power to  temporarily change their child’s behaviour.  Excellent material for parents of tots right through to teens.

Loving the Little Years: A collection of biblical thoughts on mothering young children – for when you are motivated, for when you are discouraged, for times when discipline seems fruitless, and for when you are just plain tired.

Future Men: Is a must whether you’ve got boys or whether you’ve got girls that will one day be looking to marry boys.  How to bring up boys to be biblically masculine, full of believing friendship, courage, faithfulness and integrity.

Parenting in the Pew: Full of thoughts and ideas for not merely keeping your children quiet during gathered worship, but to help them engage in worship as something that is for them from their youngest years.

Babywise: Written by Christians but not explicitly a Christian book.  A really helpful book to support new parents practically establish life-patterns that ensure your bundle of joy doesn’t become the idol of your heart or the ruler of your home.

New Songs for Saplings

Just bought the recently released Questions with Answers Vol. 4: The Word of God, CD by Dana Dirksen for our kids.  We’ve already got the other 3 volumes as I mentioned here and parents will really enjoy these Bible based songs as much as the younger members of the family.

Click on the link below to listen to a sample and then why not click here to order and download the album yourself for less than six quid.

Little Jonny won’t take long to catch on

Following on from yesterday’s post on Children in gathered worship, here’s a link to Jason Helopoulos’ tips on how to go about helping children worship with the rest of the church.  There’s no rocket-science involved but as I mentioned yesterday imagination and preparation make a world of difference.

In the few years experience we’ve gained in raising our own children, we’ve been repeatedly confronted with the fact that the biggest obstacle to training their hearts is the poor state of our own hearts. And that’s why parenting is so hard at times.

If Monday through Saturday, we as parents aren’t preparing for and passionate about gathering as the church of Jesus Christ come Sunday, why would our children ever be?  If gathered worship is something we endure, little Jonny won’t take long to catch on.

Psalm 122:1

Children in gathered worship

There’s a lot of wisdom in this article by Jason Helopoulos on why children should worship with the rest of the church, a practice which the biblical authors seem to assume will be the case.

However, if anything I’d want to say I don’t think Jason goes far enough.  We shouldn’t just be content to get our children into and out of gathered worship without any loss of limbs and surely we’d want our children to be more than mere observers.  With some imagination and preparation we should be able to encourage even the youngest of children to interact and participate rather than resorting to mints and offering envelopes.

It may seem like mission impossible, but help is on hand.  A book we are currently reading through and that so far we’ve found to be full of great ideas on how parents can better nurture their children in this way is ‘Parenting in the Pew: Guiding your children into the joy of worship,’ by Robbie Castleman.

Songs for Saplings

If you have  young children I would highly recommend the Songs for Saplings CDs by Dana Dirksen.  We have the first three volumes of the Questions with Answers CDs (also downloadable from iTunes) and the children love them.  The tunes are good and the songs progress through the Westminster Shorter Catechism with lots of Bible verses and great truth as  the lyrics.

A few car journeys with these songs playing and children and parents will get to know the Bible better.

For a taster, click on the links below and find  lots more playable samples on their web site.