- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2000

With schoolbooks purchased and lesson plans ready, my children and I, like most home-schoolers, have begun a new school year. We have set our academic goals, and we're looking ahead to a successful year. I pray the decisions we have made for curriculum and outside activities will help lay a solid foundation for the children's future.

Yet no matter how hard I try to anticipate the skills and knowledge my children will need in life, I know some areas will be overlooked. Somewhere down the road, they will wish they had learned some subject or skill that we didn't cover. This used to bother me very much until I faced the fact that no parent can see into the future and know every situation his or her child will encounter.

Education is important, and our responsibility as home-schooling parents is to provide the best academic environment we can. But I believe the skills needed for success are not the ones gleaned from the pages of a book. They are caught, not taught.

Our children look to us, their parents, for guidance, wisdom and example. As moms and dads, we need to be prepared to be models for our children. They are watching us constantly. Our lives should reflect the qualities we desire to see in them. If fostered, these qualities will make our children successful whether they become home-schooling moms, factory workers or corporate executives.

In our actions,we should exemplify five attributes for our children.

First, be men and women of integrity. Honesty and truth should prevail in every area of our lives no matter the consequence. If our children see we are only truthful when it is convenient or self-serving, they quickly will figure it is OK to be dishonest.

Be committed to excellence. Demonstrate to your child that a job worth doing is worth doing well. This holds true even with tasks we dislike. If our children see that we work at doing our best only in areas we enjoy, how can we expect them to commit themselves to do their best in home-school subjects they find boring or difficult?

Seize opportunities. Someone once said, "The best things in life come to those who wait." In my opinion, this statement can't be further from the truth. In life, the best things come to those who get out there, search for and take hold of opportunities that will help them achieve their goals. As our children see us looking for educational resources and activities for them, we hope they will develop research skills they can use to pursue any goal.

Be a lifelong learner. Demonstrate to your children that learning does not end when they receive their diploma. Throughout our lives, we are called on to learn countless tasks and skills we never studied in school. For example, during the past 17 years, I have had to learn subjects including Latin, chemistry and biology along with my children. Our children need to see us not only learning new things, but enjoying the process. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

Finally, have a heart of service. In today's society, it is too easy to become consumed with our own lives and forget the world outside the four walls of our homes. Be willing to give your time and talents to your church and community. As our children see us giving of ourselves, they will see that people matter. Above all, let your children see how much you love to serve and take care of them. The way we serve and take care of them now is the way they will treat us in the future.

Kim Huber, a mother of four children, has been home-schooling for 17 years. She and her husband serve on the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania's board of directors. She can be reached by e-mail ([email protected]).

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