Any discussion about education is ultimately a theological discussion (in the strictest sense of the word) since God as the Creator designed us to learn and grow and also told us what to learn and what to avoid learning. In John we learn that Jesus is "the way, the truth and the life". Since He is all, we can trust Him as our way back to God, our source of all truth, and our life abundant (both now and in the future). As the source of all truth, He is the One we turn to, to educate ourselves and our children. He provides us with His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth - if we seek our truth from Him, we will not miss the path.
By contrast Satan is called the father of lies and is known for his plan for our lives - to steal, kill and destroy.
For the Stover's, education is a way of life. We try to give this philosophy to our children. Early in life they experience the joy of personal growth. The essence of our plan for our children's basic education is to "learn to learn". Once you accomplish the skills of learning, nothing is out of your reach. With this, however, comes the responsibility to use it aright. God tells us in His word that some knowledge is good while other knowledge is evil. Each person must learn to identify God as His ultimate authority so he chooses to learn what is good, and shun what is evil.
Education and discipline go hand in hand. They are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other. That gives real meaning to the old term "self-government", which is the goal of true education.
Since we consider a child an adult once he reaches age twelve, our plan of education divides easily at that point.
Prior to twelve, a child receives basic discipline to mold him into obedience. Then he uses obedience as a hedge to "learn to learn". These twelve years are years of rapid growth both physically and mentally. As a matter of fact, the whole foundation of his life is laid during these years. At first obedience is to his parents, but as time goes on he learns to transfer his loyalty to Christ. Often a child experiences salvation during this season of his life.
After twelve the young adult is refining and honing his knowledge and skills as he grows in maturity. Responsibility and privilege are gradually expanded during these years as they blossom into full adulthood. This is the season where your young adult passes from the faith of his fathers to his own faith. This spiritual transaction is often referred to as lordship - it is the door into the throne room of God, and signals a life given over to Christian service.
Education at our home has taken many forms through the years to accommodate our changing lives. At first there were no "academic" seasons, only months of discipline, learning and laughter. Eventually those informal years gave way to times of scheduled academic study - learning the skills of education and self-control. For a few years we followed a traditional school schedule (September to May) but quickly learned to flex it to meet our needs. Now our academic years run from January to May with a heavy schedule of book learning then June to October is divided among hands on learning, garden and work responsibilities. November and December are saved for specific concentrated learning and family fun.
Once children master the tools of learning, we concentrate on specialized studies according to the need of the individual child. Most children learn a common pool of knowledge but everyone also has their unique areas of interest. After age twelve, each pursues self-directed studies geared towards his individual interests and needs. Of course all this uniqueness requires hours of planning and goal setting with follow-up and honing of skills. It also requires an incredible amount of scheduling and record keeping.
Once a person is educated, he must discern God's direction for his life. At this stage we see significant divergence between men and woman. Of course this overlaps with self-directed studies and continues on throughout life. For us, no education is complete for a man until he has three or more ways by which he can support a family. This looks different for each son, although there are many areas of overlap.
For daughters, an education includes academic accomplishment and cultural refinement as well as the ability to manage a home and educate children - only then are the ladies encouraged to pursue financial endeavors.
Although a work ethic is cultivated while children are very young, they now face work in a very different way. We encourage personal development and a financial education before one chooses a livelihood.
Throughout their education our children have tried their hands at many and varied opportunities to earn money. This has created an entrepreneurial atmosphere so our children feel safe trying a business. From small beginnings (selling earthworms, pumpkins, corn stalks and refurbished lawn mowers) to lucrative side lines (rake leaves, plow snow, estate liquidation) to full scale businesses (construction, septic installation, computer repair) we have tried to instill a desire for enterprise into our children.
If a man is measured by how he spends his free time, this story of our journey would not be complete without a peek into our leisure activates.
Our lives are full, yet like others we make time for fun. The winter months see us all busy with handwork while Mom reads us a good book - usually a biography or other historical piece. We also enjoy games of many and varied descriptions, our favorites changing as we grow and mature. We like snowball fights and sledding when the weather permits.
Warmer weather finds us out of doors for our pleasures. Usually we camp, hike, canoe and swim. But we also enjoy archery and shooting. All our children also hunt and fish. Running throughout all these endeavors has been the threads of love, hard work, and laughter. We work hard, we play fast, and rest deep - but we always do it together. We are each others best friends, intimate confidantes, and greatest admirers. We fail and succeed together!
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