We’re still home-schooling.  I can honestly say that everyone here loves it.  Of course, we’re still working out the kinks.  There’s the danger of second and third breakfast, always potentially available with a kitchen that never closes.  And there’s the distraction of the X-Box, which lurks nearby and whispers to the children in electronic voices too high frequency for adults to hear.

We’re all learning more than we imagined.  We’re exploring new ideas like logic, new activities like bagpipe, new interests like science and art.  It’s been cool so far.  I’m glad we’re doing it, however long the ‘Leap Academy’ experiment lasts.

However, we aren’t alone.  And I don’t mean because of other home-schoolers.  You see, on many levels, we all educate our children at home.

We educate them, obviously, when we read to them or try to help them with letters, numbers, projects or reports.  We educate them when we encourage their academic interests, like chemistry, and help them through their academic struggles, like fractions.  This is the obvious education that parents contribute to, whether their children are in public school or private school, or are taught in pajamas on the dining room table every morning.

But we also educate them in life.  See, we teach our children with every word we say.  With every kind word, we teach them worth and gentility.  With every string of profanity we teach them to sound angry, and that it’s acceptable to lose control of our tempers.

Each time we take them to church, each night that we pray with them, or read to them from the Bible, we teach them their inestimable value in God’s eyes.  We also demonstrate to them that we parents recognize a higher authority than our own (higher even than the television!).  And when we teach them to look to prayer or scripture, we show them where find comfort, hope, answers, and wisdom for their entire lives.

On the other hand, when parents cope with life’s stresses by drinking until they’re drunk, or using illegal drugs, they have also shown their children where to look for comfort, hope, answers and wisdom.  Unfortunately, it’s all false and destructive.  Still, it’s a lesson.

When we show our young that we value knowledge, we encourage them learn for a lifetime.  When we show them we value mercy and charity, we make them the people society needs so desperately.  When we let them laugh we remind them that life is a delight.  And when we kiss them, or kiss our husbands or wives, we teach in loud words that affection should be freely and frequently given so that everyone knows they are loved.

However, on the darker side of home education, every bruised or beaten spouse, every suffering, wounded child, is a home-school lesson on the efficient power of violence, and the black-hole, life draining power of cruelty, disdain, lies and neglect.

This universal home-schooling is not the unique domain of fathers or mothers.  Men teach their sons honor, purpose and commitment as they care for and love their children and wives.  Men teach their sons courage and responsibility by working for the good of the family.  Men teach them the appropriate uses of anger when they stand up for their beliefs or their families against tyranny large and small.

Women teach their daughters the powers of diligence, devotion, nurturing, compassion, temperance and beauty.  Mothers have the power to teach their daughters that they can do anything they feel called to do.  And mothers can teach their daughters to be partners, not playthings, of men.  In fact, each parent has a thousand lessons to give to every child.

Sometimes the lessons are more practical.  ‘Don’t drive angry.  Don’t speed.  Watch for oncoming traffic.’  This lesson has bitten me on the backside as my sons now police my speedometer like junior highway patrolmen.  Occasionally, the lessons are of grave importance.  Like when my daughter quietly expresses to me that she is afraid of a particular stranger in a crowd.  ‘That’s OK, baby.  If you feel afraid of someone, listen to your heart.’

From cooking to cleaning, yard-work to pet care, it’s all part of the effort to mold adults from the clay of childhood.  But the lessons of the heart are the ones that will drive their happiness or misery in this life.

Like it or not, mothers and fathers, we’re all home-school parents.  We became teachers when we first held our students in our hands.  And our lessons will echo through our families long after we’re gone.

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