Even before we became parents, my husband and I agreed that should God bless us with children we would homeschool them. While we were open to different curricula available, our familiarity with the SOT system contributed to our decision to use it in our own homeschool experience.
During Educator’s conventions, we are reminded that Education is the transfer of life to life. It is the pouring of one’s life into another to train and ready them as they live their lives. While academic education is part of this training, it is not isolated from all the other parts. In Proverbs 22:6, we can see that educating our children is training them in the way they should go—to Christlikeness. As Christian parents, this should have the weightier emphasis, acknowledging that this can only take place when the heart is renewed in Christ. It should always be in the direction of God-consciousness and God-submission. (Tripp 30)
Here are some of the reasons why the SOT system is a FIT for our homeschooling experience.
Being affiliated with an SOT school allowed us to see how the system could help us truly educate our children. With the PACEs we were sure that we had the core subjects taken care of. We don’t have to busy ourselves worrying about what to teach next, because the PACEs do that for us. Because we’ve got the core curriculum in place, we have time to actually help our children study and learn. It provides a well-planned direction on academically training their minds to develop and to think. We can be assured that they are learning what they should in their level because the materials we are working with are not “new” (haphazardly prepared) but have been tried and tested. It provides the content sufficient to academically prepare a student for the responsibilities he/she will carry in the future.
Rather than being the one studying the core subjects to teach, we as parents, can focus on the deeper matters. The main direction of a child and every individual is answered in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q&A No.1): What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is the central goal of our training in our homeschool.
Instead of competing with what really matters, the SOT system aids us as a family to put the emphasis where it should be. It is a great supplement because producing educated individuals is not our main objective. We can stop anything we are doing “academically” to deal with the more important issues. We have the luxury of adjusting goals to make way for the concerns that need to be talked about. We can discuss the biblical truths that apply to the specific situations or troubles we experience. We can pray together and plead with God to help us in fulfilling His calling in our lives. We can address struggles with time management and priorities in light of God’s Word. In addition, the beauty of homeschool is the continuity of the conversation. It is not isolated or compartmentalized but all integrated and related.
The system does not merely address the student’s need to be academically knowledgeable. It also provides an environment where we can talk about who we are and how we ought to live in light of who God is.
2. Training to holiness
The curriculum does not hinder our family from pursuing holiness together. In fact, it encourages us even more.
One time, my son was being unruly. I was starting to get irritated because of his behavior. So with an irritated voice, facial expression and body language, I asked what he needed. He needed my initial for a Checkup. I snatched the PACE from him and asked him to recite the verse. Timidly, but very clearly he recited, “and the servant of the LORD…must be gentle. (2Tim 2:24)” Right there, I knew what I had to do. I repented and asked for his forgiveness for not being gentle.
Praise God for the timely rebuke. Holiness – that’s our direction.
3. Individualized Mini-class curriculum
While the core subjects are already in place, we as parents have the freedom to design classes that can promote their awareness of
- who God is based on His Word,
- who we are in light of that knowledge, and
- how we should live based on that knowledge.
These points are crucial in the classes we design for our children. This is rooted in the principle that each child is gifted with different talents and abilities, not to be used for their own purposes but for God. We highlight God’s ownership and our stewardship of the life and resources He has given.
MAPEH, HELE and Values Education are all geared to this purpose. With the amount of information and resources available to us in books and the internet, we use these for the good of our children. As we spend time with them at home, we see their strengths and weaknesses. This allows us to shape our lessons accordingly or get the necessary help from others that may be proficient in the given areas under our supervision.
It is needful to mention that in developing our mini-class curriculum and activities, we keep in mind what Christ said in Mark 8:36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Oh what a tragedy it is to train a child into a direction that is detrimental for his soul. May we truly train our children in the way that they should go.
It is crucial to note the current situation of the world wherein our homeschool operates. The COVID-19 pandemic has really brought about major adjustments, but by God’s grace, it has been for the good of our souls. Truly, we can say, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28)”
While the system is flexible, it still works best in following a schedule. The pandemic restrictions, providentially, have been very helpful for us as a homeschooling family to effectively follow daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly schedules. The restrictions minimized the possible out-of- the-house activities, impromptu visits to neighbors, friends, and trips to our most convenient getaway — the mall. With nowhere to go, we maximized our stay by honing the talents God graciously gave. We took the opportunity to talk and discuss life now, back then and what it may and will be in the future.
The system has been more established in the daily routine that we believe will be for our children’s benefit in the years to come. Instead of feeling confined, it has allowed us to find deeper connections with each other and God’s Word.
The structure that the SOT system provides thrives in a schedule and its flexibility makes way for the issues that truly matter.
2) Strengthening relationships through online activities and fellowships
Prior to the pandemic, we had connected with friends homeschooling from places other than our own city. We would schedule get-togethers and playdates—not just for the children, but for the whole family. There were times that the geography and logistics got in the way of the frequency of these activities. When the pandemic restrictions were set, everything shifted online. This worked beautifully for us. We are currently able to meet at least once a month via Zoom. We are able to do art activities, story-telling sessions, and even talent shows. We are thankful for the technology that is available to us.
As our family life has progressed, we have come to appreciate the system even more. It has helped us as a family to learn together. It is playing a big role in the training of our children. It truly is a blessing for us.
“The most important thing that a child could ever learn about is the existence, character, and plan of God. If you know this fact, it will alter the way you understand and interpret every other fact in your life” (Tripp, 30).
Tripp, Paul David. Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. Crossway Books, 2016.
“The Westminster Shorter Catechism.” A Puritan’s Mind, accessed June 3, 2021. https://www.apuritansmind.com/westminster-standards/shorter-catechism/.