Even though she was in a Christian school for kindergarten and first grade, Christy was beginning to develop the classic pattern of peer dependency. She cared more for the opinions of her 6-year-old friends than she did for the opinions of her parents after only two years of attending a good Christian school. And since foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, as Scripture says (Proverbs 22:15), we felt that the only method available for us to rescue Christy from the habit of developing her opinions from other little "fools" was to have her spend more time with her parents than she did with her friends. We have never tried to shield any of our children from exposure to other children (although we have avoided particular individuals from time to time). They have a range of friends and acquaintances from both Christian and non-Christian circles. However, we believed that spending more time with their parents than with their friends would best develop their Christian character.
Our family is not alone in saying that homeschooling has been truly successful in accomplishing our top goal of Christian character development. Children who have been raised in homeschooling, including ours, are not perfect. Nor are they universally of high Christian character. But an overwhelming majority of homeschooled Christian children are far more spiritually mature than their parents were at similar ages. I know this is true in my case, even though I was saved at an early age, raised in a Christian home, and attended a solid Bible-teaching church from my earliest years. All of these good forces were consistently neutralized as I spent hours and hours in a school system that was under a national court order to exclude God from the curriculum. It is simple common sense that when that child's education is consistent with godliness, the child is more likely to experience positive spiritual development. However, when the child is in a system where people have a legal heart attack if anyone ever mentions God in a favorable manner, that child's spiritual development is usually less than positive.
How do you disciple a nation? God gives us the example of Jacob in the Scriptures. God expected Jacob to disciple his sons and daughters. They, in turn, were expected to disciple their sons and daughters, and so on. Discipled families were to become discipled clans. Discipled clans were to become discipled tribes. And ultimately, discipled tribes were to become a discipled nation.
The family is God's first choice in the human institution in which discipleship is to occur. There are two other human institutions: the church and government. God never intended the government to be the agency of discipleship. The church obviously plays a major role in discipleship. However, the role of the church in discipleship is really a catch-up program for people who were not discipled by their own parents. Discipleship differs from other forms of teaching in that discipleship cares more about your actions and attitudes than your levels of knowledge. The most effective way to train someone in attitudes and actions (as well as to monitor their progress) is to live with them day in and day out.
The very best method of discipleship training is modeling. Psychologists explain modeling as a way for children to learn by watching and interacting with others of their species. God intended this to happen when parents spend enormous time with their own children, training them in godliness as they sit down, as they walk along the way, as they go through the normal actions of life (Deuteronomy 6:7-9). This kind of moment-by-moment instruction was much more frequent when children did not attend institutional schools for academic instruction. Parents worked alongside their children in the fields, in the carpenter's shop, or in hundreds of other ways that gave them a chance to devote constant hours of conversation to their children, which allowed them to transfer their values in a natural manner than was clearly effective.