After viewing my profile, a reader sent me an email with the question, “What is an Identity Directed Approach” so I thought it was about time I tried to put my scattered thoughts into a more coherent form.
Identity Directed home-based learning goes hand in hand with a Bible Based, Christ Centred approach. It simply means to teach the child with a view to his/her God given strengths, weaknesses, interest, passions, and talents… their natural bents.
Recognise God’s Call
Firstly, it’s important to recognise that God has put you, the parent, as the responsible authority in the lives of your children. Remember also that when God calls, He also enables! If God has a plan and a purpose for you as well as your child (and He does!), the best way to find out about that plan is to learn more about Him and His ways. Look at Isaiah 55:8-11
Pray! It almost goes without saying yet it’s often the most neglected facet of homeschooling. Acknowledge your weakness and lean on His strength and His ways. Yes, it is a walk of faith. For great information on homeschooling in faith I recommend Robin’s article at Heart of Wisdom. As I have looked to God, more and more He has taken care of all our homeschool needs. In other words, the less I have planned and struggled, the more He has been in control and provided for us.
Resting in Him
Listening is so important. We need to listen more to God. Once we’ve asked for His help and direction, we need to stop and listen so that we may hear.
Recognising and Identifying
We need to watch and observe. We will often sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit (and gain help and direction) just by watching and observing our children. But one caution; recognising the individual make-up of each child and who he/she was created to be is an ongoing process. We need to understand that we will become students; students who study our children!
It’s important to spend time identifying the following in each child:
- Strengths and natural ability and aptitude, also called talents
- Interests; what sparks their curiosity or desire to know more
- Their passions (things they would do if left to their own devices)
Once these things have been identified, pray and ask God to help you as you devise a plan to develop their strengths and to build up their weaknesses.
Identity Directed education is not child-led. It does not mean that the whim and fancy of each child is indulged. It doesn’t mean only doing what the child is good at and ignoring everything else. While it is part of Delight Directed education, it isn’t only about following delights. An athlete must train the whole body. It would be detrimental to their being to only train the areas of the body that they use most in their sport. A softball pitcher must have strong core muscles, upper body and leg muscles but they risk severe injury if these are the only areas they develop. They must also develop agility and speed, combined with power and explosiveness. They are required to use the muscle which allows them to pitch underarm yet if they don’t develop the muscles that allow them to throw over arm, they risk injury. Athletes use their whole body in a natural way and they never isolate a single muscle group or joint in the competition. In training yes, in order to develop the area but, only with an aim of building a strong whole body, fit for competition. Training with balance in strengths and weaknesses is the key! Just as an athlete has a training routine, so must the education of a child have structure and routine. These things are [natural, God ordained] biblical principles just as day turns to night and autumn comes after summer.
An individual’s strengths and weaknesses and interests are part of their God given make up! By identifying and encouraging their natural bents you will be launching them toward their purpose. Most of all, train in the ways of God and in wisdom!
Wisdom’s way of learning is about seeking God for His plan for our family.
Well, after you have recognised your God given responsibility, and prayed for wisdom, guidance and direction you will have been observing your children closely while leaning on God. So what comes next?
Mapping out a plan – start with the end in mind.
- What are some skills that you want your strong, capable child to be have as an adult?
- What are the attitudes, character traits and information/knowledge that you want your children to have as adults?
- What are your educational, moral, spiritual personal, ethical, goals for my family?
- What direction has God shown you regarding you and your family’s ministry in His Kingdom?
- Do your aims line up with the Bible?
Each response to these points should look different based upon the personal convictions, values and calling of each family. (However, all should line up with #5 Do your aims line up with the Bible?)
Many people realise the immense benefit of home education but sometimes it isn’t until later on that parents come to see that homeschooling is more than academics… that it is a natural extension of God’s purpose for the family. This brings us to another set of points worth pondering:
- What is ‘family’?
- What things are important to us, as a family?
- What abilities and interests and concerns has the Lord given to us, as a family?
The response to these points will also vary greatly. This is an interesting exercise to do with your spouse as it can help you identify your family’s unique purpose.
After identifying your family’s goals and purpose you should be able to see what is most important and worth your time. Is it academics? Skills? Information or knowledge? Or relationships? Our family has a priority list of relationships (with God, others and self) first, then skills and then knowledge. One of our highest priority areas is to grow in wisdom, which only comes from God and falls under the category of ‘relationships’.
“Academic education, as we know, should not be life’s goal for the Christian, rather, the goal should be discipleship to Jesus Christ.”
Marilyn Howshall ‘Wisdom’s Way of Learning
I’d like to encourage you to recognise God’s call, seek Him for direction, rest in Him yet all the while listening and observing. Put fine, rich books and ideas before your children. Watch for a spark and allow them to dig further. You will see the learning.
If you have any questions or would like me to clarify anything, please leave a comment or send an email.
Some recommended reading if this topic is of interest: