This is my first official review for The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew! Exciting, isn't it?
I was given the opportunity to read and review the book How to Have a H.E.A.R.T For Your Kids by Rachael Carman. The title is a clever acronym that describes how to best raise your kids. It's good advice, whether you homeschool or not.
Chapter 1: H - Have a Heart for the Things of God. In this, Rachael says,
"Intentional parenting means that we are thoughtful and purposeful in our actions and words. As intentional parents, we do not react, but we respond. We do not panic; we pray. We do not give sermons; we give scripture . . . By seeking God first, we are going before our families, paving the way for our kids. We are clearing our path through the undergrowth that is everyday life and showing our children how to put Him first in all things."
Chapter 2: E - Enrich Your Marriage. One thing that I especially liked about this chapter, is that Rachael challenges us to serve our husbands. Serve my husband? Ha! I do that every day. I prepare his meals, wash his filthy work clothes, clean the house, fix his half-inside-out socks, throw away tags and wrappers forgotten on the counter from newly bought purchases, sweep up dried mud from his work boots, close the always-left-open-in-the-morning pantry door . . . Sure, we "serve" our husbands, but this is not the serving she is referring to. She suggests asking him how you can serve him that day, whether it's making a phone call, running an errand, or whatever else it may be that will lessen his load. And then do it. Joyfully. Be a servant, like Christ was a servant. (I may not wash Leighton's feet, but trust me, washing his demolition work clothes is humbling in itself!)
Chapter 3: A - Accept Your Kids.
"Your kids were sent right on time, on purpose . . . God decided to send each specific child to you, uniquely designed to bless your family. He sent these children to your home as tools to mold you and the other members of your family."
Wow, talk about humbling! My children were sent to me to mold ME. Raising children is not solely about teaching them Truth, how to obey, or how to live. Raising my kids is also meant to refine any imperfections in my own life. Looking back, it's amazing how we as parents have molded and changed since having children. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago, and I am not the person I will be 5 years from now.
She also says in this chapter, "The thing I want my kids to hear more than anything else is that the God of the universe loves them." Again, wow. I tell them God loves them. We sing "Jesus Love Me." But I don't tell them nearly as often as I tell them of my own love for them or as much as I hug and kiss and squeeze them for myself. It's something I need to work on. They need to know - to really know - that God loves them. Then they'll understand when things don't go like they planned, when troubles arise, that "all things work together for good." (Romans 8:28) That God is always there, guiding them because as He said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5)
Chapter 4: R - Release Them to God. Reading this title, I knew this chapter would be a toughy. I know my children are really God's and that they're just "on loan" to me to raise them. But accepting His perfect will for their lives might not match up with my desires. Yes, I long for them to be in the center of His will. I want them to obey Him in whatsoever He commands. I truly desire for them to be fully content and happy living the lives God has planned for them. But to become a missionary in a foreign land or simply move far away or choose a dangerous occupation or . . . Who knows what the future holds but Him. It's not my job to question it or to hold on tight to them. It's my responsibility to equip them for the future. And step back and watch God make something beautiful with His creations.
Chapter 5: T - Teach Them the Truth. Ultimately as parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children truth. Yes, as a homeschooling mother, I teach my kids that 2+2=4, blue and yellow make green, and mixing baking soda and vinegar will cause a reaction. All truths. But of what use is this education if God is not first and foremost in their lives. What good would millions of dollars from a successful job on earth be if they have no crowns to cast at Jesus' feet in Heaven? The most important Truth we need to teach our kids is the Truth of the Gospel. Jesus, who is the perfect sinless Son of God, died, was buried, and rose again to make the payment for our sins. If we seek to keep God and His Truth first, the other truths will fall into place.
Acts 4:13 speaks of Peter and John being brought before the Sanhedrin. These were "unlearned and ignorant men" accused before the intimidating consul. But Peter and John stood out. Why? Because "they had been with Jesus." I want that testimony for not just me, but my entire family as well. (Ok, not necessarily the unlearned and ignorant part!)
The book itself is hard cover and only about 7 inches high, which is a nice size to hold while reading. Rachael Carmen's simple, honest, witty writing is a pleasure to read. The book costs $13 and can be purchased from Apologia. (Interesting side note: the company is owned by the author and her husband.) You can find many other resources and curriculum on the Apologia site.
I highly recommend this book, whether you're looking for encouragement in homeschooling, tips to better understand your children, or just desire to have a better and closer family. How to Have a H.E.A.R.T For Your Kids will do just as it promises.
You can find more reviews of this book here.
* Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.