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    by Mike McHugh

Fruitful Homeschool Discipline
Date Posted: March 9, 2006

In the Gospel of John, chapter fifteen, Jesus made the following statement in verses one and two, "I am the true Vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

The Scripture passage listed above should be of encouragement to Christian parents who are taking the time to discipline or “purge” their children so that they will bring forth fruits fit for the Master. In the daily grind of correcting and chastening children, however, some parents forget to pause and examine whether their methods of discipline are bearing any fruit. The process of discipline, after all, should bring forth tangible fruit, for children that are truly being disciplined will be growing in knowledge and godly wisdom on a regular basis.

One of the major reasons why secular teachers in public and private schools often fail to produce children of exceptional quality is that such teachers are too often satisfied with merely getting students promoted. The Christian teacher will not be satisfied until he sees evidence that his students are developing as a whole person ---- body, mind, soul, and spirit to their full potential. In an age where mediocrity is regarded as a virtue, it takes a great deal of courage and fortitude for Christian teachers to raise a high standard for students to rally around.

A question that is commonly asked by Christian home school parents is, “How do I know if I am pushing my student too much?” I believe that the answer to this question rests in the fact that excessive pushing of a student, more often than not, is the direct result of an unprepared teacher. In other words, the teacher who thinks he is prepared to teach a particular lesson (but, in reality, is not) will be more prone to assign excessive and unreasonable course work. The wise teacher will avoid the common pitfall of assigning too much work to his students by making certain that each student knows exactly what each lesson is trying to convey, and, more importantly, what specific information he will need to complete his assignment without undue frustration. It is foolish for a teacher to assign course work to their students (whether it be short or long assignments) if they are not sufficiently prepared to complete the task.

I believe that much of the talk today among parent teachers about not pushing students is nothing more than misguided rhetoric that is too often used to excuse or justify the fact that their students are consistently unprepared to achieve the goals set before them. In the end, there are only two types of teachers, those who plan for things to happen and those who wonder what happened. Little wonder then, given the weakness of fallen men, that unstructured (disorganized) approaches to teaching children at home remain popular. (This popularity has developed, in spite of the fact that unstructured homeschoolers seldom have any clue if their children are achieving excellence, or simply having fun.) Students are not the only ones who need to have their routine work habits “purged” ---- many teachers need this as well.

Teachers, if you have a teaching method/philosophy that you know is compromising your students’ achievement potential, then purge it out of your routine so that your students may bear more fruit. If, however, after examining your teaching style and standard of discipline, you believe that you are doing your best to help your students reach their full potential, then the Scriptures encourage you to continue in your well doing: for in due season, ye shall reap, if ye faint not. Galatians 6:9.

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Copyright 2006 Michael McHugh

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at
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