Hope for Christian Parenting

One of the giant incongruities of being a credobaptist in a Presbyterian church is all this talk of covenant children.  I’m still not entirely sure what they mean, but we believe our children are born depraved and lost.

Which is depressing.

But also inspiring.  Because the Bible speaks to Christian parents, credo or paedobaptist, in two large subheadings: responsibilities of Christian parents, and promises for Christian parents.

Responsibilities of Christian Parents

If I look at all the verses to do with parenting in Scripture, I see three main themes emerge:

1. Train them in the way they should go.

  • “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22:6a)
  • “…a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” (Proverbs 29:15b)
  • “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24)
  • “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)
  • “Discipline your son…” (Proverbs 29:17)
  • “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
  • “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Further, we see disobedient children are in the group of condemned people who will appear in the latter days:

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Timothy 3:2)

Disobedience is a profoundly serious thing.  In Deuteronomy “stubborn and rebellious” children who would not relent from their rebellion were taken out by their parents to the elders of the city and stoned (Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

2. Teach them diligently, formally, informally, and by example.

  • “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,” (Titus 2:7)
  • “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.“ (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
  • “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” (2 Timothy 3:15)
  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)

3. Treat them rightly.

  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)
  • “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
  • “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, “(Matthew 20:26-27)

Promises for Christian parents

They will bring you delight:

  • “…and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. “(Proverbs 29:17)
  • “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)

They will be wise:

  • “The rod and reproof give wisdom…” (Proverbs 29:15a)

they will be saved from death:

  • “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
  • “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.” (Proverbs 23:13)

They will continue in the way of the Lord:

  • “…even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6b)
  • “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
  • “…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” (2 Timothy 3:15)

New year, except not. :)

Last week marked the end of the girls’ adventure in their current math books, which means by my lights, they’re onto the new grade.  I use math as our metric because 1) it’s the subject we are most behind in; 2) it’s very sequential, you can’t really skip around or ahead if you’re not getting it; and 3) whether it’s going well or hard, it’s about the same amount of work—it takes about 36 weeks regardless.

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So, it’s a new academic year.  It’s also our spring break, which is going to last about three weeks and involve some non-textbook math, a side adventure into a different reading program, a different science program… it’s the season for electives, in other words.

And then we’ll go back to the grind.

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One big decision I made is to go through the curricula as we come to it, rather than adhering to the idea of Fall-to-Spring, and also to not keep the children in sync with each other or even in sync with themselves, subject-wise.  While the girls have both finished their current textbooks and are relatively together in scheduling, L is not finished his current course and I am not planning to begin his “new year” until fall, at which point the girls will be half-way through this year.  In other words, I am trying not to lose my mind, but also trying to let things progress at a natural pace.

My other big decision was to go year-round, which gives a lot more freedom for longer / more frequent breaks, while providing structure continually, and some extra academic time to pursue electives, fill in gaps, and otherwise go off-script.

2nd grade:

Core curricula: Christian Light Reading 200, Singapore Math, R&S Grammar 2, Sequential Spelling, Tapestry of Grace, Apologia Science, typing

DSC07716We are about halfway through Christian Light’s Reading 200 program.  It’s FANTASTIC.  Seriously.  I rave.  You definitely need a fluent reader, but we’ve got that, and there is everything to love about this program.  It’s cheap, has fantastic, deep Christian stories (albeit not Reformed), a great workbook with a good workload and challenging concepts… room for teacher interaction but absolutely not required.  Regular quizzes included help me know she’s really getting the concepts.

Singapore Math is still working wonderfully for us.  I will say I decided with five children in the pipeline, that manipulatives might not be such a bad investment, and so I’ve been collecting them over the past year, and they really help make math a lot more fun.  I plan to do a post on that.  I also really like Math Mammoth and I use it to provide extra practice / extra explanation of difficult concepts, and I can see myself possibly switching to MM entirely once I’m confident I have a good grasp of the path-to-Saxon-54 that I’m doing for the first three grades.  Right now I feel like with Singapore, I know we’re on track. But MM is very similar and would be cheaper, once I have more confidence in the subjects and level of mastery expected at each grade level.

Rod & Staff Grammar is also… exciting.  It’s a non-consumable textbook, cheap, solid, great mastery/spiral balance.  But the best part is they teach kindness and truth as an essential part of grammar.  I will say the exercises are a lot of work for someone who doesn’t have a great grasp of handwriting, and so I will sometimes let her do it out loud or a subset of problems.  The years after 2nd grade have workbooks, which will make it easier for her.

DSC07530Sequential Spelling is awesome.  It would work really well for multiple students, even ones slightly off in grade.  We are starting at the beginning, so I can’t speak for starting mid-stream, but I see her spelling improving so much from this program.

We are still doing Tapestry of Grace and Apologia Science—I reluctantly ordered the lab kit this next year, because I have trouble handling the prep for the non-core subjects with all the children.

We are also doing typing and math flash cards (via xtramath, which I extremely recommend and is free).  Ideally we would finish addition/subtraction in first grade and do multiplication/division facts in second grade, but I found xtramath too late for that to be true this year.

1st grade:

Core curricula: phonics (variety; Christian Light), Singapore Math 1A/1B, Tapestry of Grace, Apologia Science, Headsprout

DSC06420I honestly feel like I’m still feeling out the best path to reading fluently.  I am a big fan of Headsprout.  So much of reading seems like a developmental thing more so than a taught thing.  I’ve talked a lot previously about the different things we do, so I’m not going to rehash them.  I will say I’m doing things a bit different in K now, and hoping that will lead to a more well-defined 1st grade DSC06408reading program with child 3.  That said, I am currently giving a good shot with Christian Light Reading 100 in addition to my regular mish-mash and I am hopeful that that will be a good track for us.  The thing I really like about it (besides the fact that I like the 2nd grade curriculum) is that the workbooks only cover a couple of weeks so it is easy to do just part of the curriculum and only buy for the next child what you actually need, instead of having to buy a whole new workbook.  CLE is also extremely affordable.

Singapore Math 1A/1B – this program is challenging, numbers to 100, double-digit addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, money, time, measurement… it’s work. :)  It also seems to work, though!

Grammar and Spelling we follow along with older sibling.  Same with science and history.

Xtramath – addition and subtraction flashcards.

Kindergarten:

Core curricula: Christian Light Kindergarten II, Singapore Essential Math A&B, Handwriting Without Tears, Reading Eggs

DSC07093Child 3 has been doing a much more carefully-defined preschool program than his sisters, and so I’m intending to transition him into Christian Light’s Kindergarten II program (and Singapore Math’s Kindergarten Essential Math, which is on track) in the fall.  Then that program transitions into a learning-to-read program which eventually transitions into the Reading program that I like so much.  I’m not sure how all that is going to go, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting it. :)  At this point I have a good grasp of what needs to happen in kindergarten, I’m just still working out the best way to get there while managing older children and preschoolers at the same time.

Pre-K:

Core curricula: R&S ABCDEF series, Handwriting Without Tears, Starfall, Before the Code

DSC07548(This is where child 3 still is until Fall or so.)  We have transitioned into separate math (Rod and Staff) and English (Before the Code) books, which I feel is good, challenging prep for Kindergarten.  He also does handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears).  Right now I am loving this spot as a transition out of “preschool” and into something that’s really directionally preparing for Kindergarten proper.  We seem to spend about six months in pre-K.  It really is a transition to full, proper school.  Assignments are still really short (maybe 30 minutes total per day) but there’s the expectation there.  It also begins to build on itself rather than just meeting the child where they’re at, to begin sequential knowledge for the first time and increase skills.

Preschool:

Core curricula: R&S “About Three” preschool series, Horizons Preschool for Threes, Horizons Preschool

Child 4 is just beginning on this stage.  I feel like I have a good system here.  There are kind of three sub-levels I set in my head:

  1. We begin with Rod & Staff’s “About Three” books (learning tracing skills, to sit still, to match, etc.)
  2. Then move into Horizon’s “Preschool for 3s” (learning colors, to follow directions, to count)
  3. And finally Horizon’s “Preschool” book (which is essentially Pre-4 or so)

Horizon’s Preschool book is about on level with the Rod and Staff ABCDEF series which I use in Pre-K, but much more colorful and fun / less work / less prep, as well as having a large mixture of subjects in one book.  We seem to spend about a year and a half in preschool.  At first it’s very spotty and student-directed and by the end it’s an expectation and regular, if still very short, assignments.

Also important to note that this stage is not about finishing books.  Most of these books you can start in the middle and so I just pass them on child to child and buy new ones when the old ones are full, not finished by one child.  I move them along according to their stage, not based on completion.