Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What is biblical homeschooling? Part 3- Teaching Wisdom

Age should speak and multitude of years should teach wisdom.  Job 32:7

What is wisdom?  According to Webster's dictionary it is 1 a.)  accumulated philosophic or scientific learning:  knowledge, b.) ability to discern inner qualities and relationships:  insight, c.) good sense:  judgement, 2.) a wise attitude or course of action, 3.) the teachings of the ancient wise men.

We know by context in Scripture that none of these definitions do biblical wisdom justice.  In the Bible, wisdom always has to do with making the right decision, or doing the right thing.  Wisdom is the application of God's Word.  Wisdom is intrinsicly linked to morality- they cannot be divorced.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. Psalm 111:10a

For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;  Proverbs 2:7

I want to first draw a distinction between teaching our children God's Word, which I mentioned last time must be our top priority in the Christian homeschool, and teaching our children wisdom.  Since wisdom is the right application of God's Word, it is possible to read the Bible daily with our children and help them memorize Scripture, while at the same time completely failing to teach them wisdom.  On the other hand, it is impossible to teach our children wisdom without studying the Scriptures with them.  So, our homeschool must have both.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

The idea in this verse is that as we come to realize how brief our time on earth is, we'll be more likely to apply God's Word now while we have the chance.  We try to take every opportunity to remind our children just how fleeting life is. 

So now that we've established what wisdom is, how do you teach it?
I usually refer to our wisdom schooling as character training, because in essence character training is all about learning how God's Word applies to different situations.  The wise child will also be obedient, diligent, loving, grateful, generous, orderly, etc. depending on how God's Word bears down on a particular situation.

These are some tools we've used for teaching wisdom in our home (and I would love to hear what you're using):

1.  Simply conversing with our kids about God's Word and what it means throughout the day as real-life situations present themselves.  This is Deut 6:7-9- talking with our kids daily about God's law as we go about our work, school, and play.  In fact, disciplining our kids can present us with wonderful opportunities to train our children in wisdom.

2.  The book of Proverbs- Proverbs is almost a textbook on wisdom.  It's purpose according to Solomon is:

To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion-  Proverbs 1:2-4

I tried reading one chapter of Proverbs per morning with my kids and after about the 4th time through Proverbs when they still had no idea what I was talking about, I got frustrated and decided to try again in a couple of years.  (They were all under 10 at the time.)  I think reading Proverbs in this way is ideal for kids 12 and over (just my opinion).  My mom taught me years ago a great morning devotion plan for when I'm in between studies:  read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb per morning according to the date (if it's June 5th you read Psalms 5, 35, 65, 95, and 125 and Proverbs 5) and you'll get through Psalms and Proverbs each month (only reading Proverbs 31 and Psalm 119 in months with 31 days).  The Proverbs are so rich with wisdom, we would all do well to read them daily!

3.  Wisdom with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin- I mentioned that my kids are a little young to glean much directly from a reading of the Proverbs, but this little book is perfect for bringing the Proverbs to life.  Each Proverb is illustrated by a Miller family story and the main verse is repeated several times throughout the explanation so that by the end even my 7 year old understands what is being taught.  I highly recommend this book for younger children.  I will mention my husband finds a few of the stories a bit legalistic for his taste.  We've just begun reading Prudence and the Millers.

4.  Character booklets published by the Institute of Basic Life Principles-  We do not agree with everything that Bill Gothard or the IBLP teaches, but we have LOVED using these little booklets for character training in our home.  This is a six volume collection:  attentiveness, obedience, gratefulness, orderliness, truthfulness, and diligence.  Each character quality is defined using God's Word and illustrated from the Bible, history, and nature.  The kids especially love the animal illustrations (ex. the diligence of the beaver as opposed to the slothfulness of the sloth.)  ATI also publishes a 3 volume collection of character sketches that we will probably start using soon.  They cover 49 character sketches and accompanying coloring books are available.

5.  Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends by Sarah, Stephen, and Grace Mally-  I just love this little book and have reviewed it previously on my blog.  Basically, it teaches that our siblings are a gift from God and provide us with many opportunities to apply God's Word in a daily setting.  Character traits such as sensitivity, kindness, and forgiveness are taught from the Scriptures and illustrated through heart-felt and sometimes hilarious Mally family stories.  There is also a corresponding coloring book available.

6.  ATI publishes a complete homeschool curriculum centered around their wisdom booklets.  I think my kids are a little young for these, but we will be looking into them in a few years.  You can preview the wisdom booklets here.

7.  Robin Sampson of Heart of Wisdom has written an internet-linked Wisdom unit study that looks fabulous for advanced middle school to high school age kids.

How important is teaching wisdom to our children?  How much of a priority should we make it?  Well, let's look at some of the benefits of wisdom.

By wisdom comes...

Understanding of the fear of the Lord
Knowledge of God
Good decision-making
Honor for self and family
Right words
Sound leadership
Protection from evil
Favor of God and man

These are just a few of the benefits or results of wisdom that I saw- mainly from the book of Proverbs.  After looking at this list, I think wisdom is probably the most important subject for us in school- after Bible.  I have to confess we only spend about 15 minutes each morning in formal wisdom/character training.  Maybe our homeschool schedule needs to be readjusted to reflect our priorities.  (However, much character training goes on throughout the day as I help my children to get along with one another, apply themselves diligently to their work and school, discuss the books we're reading, etc.)

Are you teaching wisdom in your homeschool?  What methods have you employed?  I don't know about you, but I find that I get as much as my children do from these studies!


  1. We've been doing Character Sketches, not regularly, but sporadically. I remember my mom doing this when I was homeschooled, and I still remember some of the correlations from those books. They're great!

    I'm going to look into a few more of your suggestins!

  2. WOW!!! What an INCREDIBLE WEALTH of information, encouragement and vision you have to share with us HS Mommies!

    It's ridiculously late right now...but I CAN'T WAIT to jump into your blog! And I am excited about your Family Worship button.

    I'm a Mommy of 5, as well, and getting back into HS this year with the call of the Lord to be a Missionary Family in New Bern, NC.

    So GRATEFUL Jesus led me to you tonight!

    Peace of the Lord,

  3. Character training is something that I've definitely been looking into MORE. I just haven't felt like I've had a good way to incorporate it into our lives ...yet!

    I love the idea of ATI's program (I've recently been researching it), but I'm afraid our family wouldn't 'qualify' for membership (we enjoy music that is outside of their standards, and just aren't willing to go along with the anti-adoption stance etc.)

    Have you looked into CQLA?

  4. Jennifer,

    We would not qualify for ATI membership, I'm sure. I wear jeans for one thing. I have simply bought materials through the IBLP and ATI stores.




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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.