Thursday, September 1, 2011

TOS Review: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids

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Parenting is hard work. Homeschooling adds a whole new challenge because your kids are always with you. I often see the things I most wish to change about myself reflected in my girls.  I recently read a great book from Apologia, called How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids, that addressed some of the very things I’d been struggling with.

How well do you really know your kids? What has God shown you about who they are and who they will become?

He has sent these children into your home at this specific time for His glorious purposes.

Indeed, you have been invited on the adventure of a lifetime, a journey on which you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain.

You don't need special skills or training for this journey—you need only to seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand!

As with so many things, the first step to having a heart for your children is knowing your heavenly Father.

As you seek daily to share His heart for your children, keep this inspirational book close at hand.

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Written by Rachael Carman, a homeschooling mom of seven children, How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids is a 205 page beautiful hardcover book. It is the perfect size to bring along with you wherever you go, so you always have something to read! In addition to the introduction and the epilogue, there are five chapters, each one devoted to a letter in the acronym H.E.A.R.T:

H-Have a heart for the things of God

E-Enrich your marriage

A-Accept your kids

R-Release them to God

T-Teach them the truth

In the introduction we read about Rachael’s adventures leading up to homeschooling. Rachael writes with such clarity and honesty that I found myself immediately drawn to her. I quickly related to her story, and saw a lot of myself back at the beginning of our homeschooling journey in what she was saying.

“I’m guessing that some of what I just shared is familiar to you. Maybe you too have found yourself at an intersection in life where you never expected to be standing. Perhaps you also made light of homeschooling because you couldn’t understand the “why” of it. Maybe you’ve felt the call to homeschool but ignored it and pushed it down, hoping it would go away. Maybe you knew it would mean making certain sacrifices that you never really wanted to make.”

This was me at the very beginning of our homeschooling journey. Right from the beginning of the book she spoke directly to me; got right to the heart of some of the biggest struggles I have faced over the years.

H-Have a heart for the things of God

This chapter is summed up nicely in the beginning paragraph. Rachael says in order to reach the hearts of your children, you must have a heart for God. Parents cannot pass on what they do not have. Amen! She talks about “intentional parenting”, meaning we are thoughtful and purposeful in our actions and words.

“As intentional parents we do not react, but we respond. We do not panic; we pray.”

The part that stuck with me the most in this chapter was when Rachael discussed shaping our children’s character. We need to first work on our own character. I think this applies especially to homeschooling parents, simply because of the amount of time we spend together. Our children learn so much just from watching us. As parents, we need to strive to be imitators of Christ. That is how we will best shape our children’s character.

E-Enrich your marriage

Your marriage plays such an important role in raising your children.

It is from watching their parents’ marriages that our children learn trust, sacrifice, loyalty, teamwork, forgiveness, cooperation, communication, and responsibility. It is from our marriages that they learn perseverance, joy, diligence, kindness, and gentleness. It is from our marriages that they learn grace”

I received some much needed reminders from this chapter. Rachael talks about ways to love each other and build each other up. She gives great examples of ways you can show appreciation to your spouse; something we all need to feel once in a while. She talks about the importance of blessing the next generation; of showing them what love looks like.

A-Accept your kids

What I took away from this chapter was powerful stuff. We do not know the plans God has for our children. Who we want them to be may not be what He has planned for them at all.

“Acceptance means seeking His will and  purpose for each child He places in your care. It means accepting and enjoying each one as a providential gift and a blessing from a Holy God, trusting that He will continue the good work that He began by sending them to you and carry it through to completion. (Philippians 1:6)”

R-Release them to God

Rachael starts this chapter with a familiar story. It’s the story of  Hannah. Hannah desperately wanted a child. She prayed and she prayed to God, begging Him for a baby. God granted her request, and she raised her baby knowing her time with him would be brief. She knew God’s plans for her son, and she trained him for that purpose. Our children are not our own; they belong to God. He is entrusting us to raise them accordingly.

“We are to constantly and consistently point our children toward God and His sovereign will and purpose for their lives.”

T-Teach them the truth

This is at the heart of  why I continue to homeschool, even when it’s a struggle, even when the urge to quit overwhelms me. Our children are faced with lies everywhere they turn. Our culture is constantly contradicting the very things we are trying to instill in them. If the most important thing I can do as a parent is to teach my children the truth, then the best way I can do that is to be their teacher all of the time.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7)”

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts, and minds…Teach them to your children. (Deuteronomy 11: 18-19)

What I have shared with you is really just a small sampling of an incredible book. I read the whole book in a day, and plan to read it again whenever I need encouragement.  I think this book can be a wonderful tool for every parent, homeschooling or not. Read a sample chapter and see for yourself. It’s available from Apologia for only $13.00.

To see what my fellow Crew mates had to say, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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