Each step a builder takes to create the home of someone’s dreams is necessary and deliberate, just as the steps a parent must take as they create their children’s so-called “educational dream house.” Parents who take their divine calling seriously know how important it is to seek out and create a unique, inspired education for each child. As we discovered how to construct this educational dream house for our children, we found the following five steps to be invaluable:
Step #1 -Visualizing the Educational Dream
One of the best methods of getting started on this educational journey is for parents to list the characteristics they want their children to have acquired by the time they are adults. By visualizing what they want their family members to be like, they will be better prepared to select the curriculum, educational guides, and types of education that will help them achieve those characteristics.
When we interview parents pertaining to this subject, they normally list qualities such as honesty, integrity, virtue, being a good husband or a good wife, and showing good citizenship, etc., as the characteristics they want their children to own.
Almost every parent has memorized this well-known scripture: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). But notice that parents are not to simply “train up” the child, but they should train them in the way they should go. This indicates that children’s education ought to be highly moral and well-principled.
As you can see, the skills themselves are secondary–not the main focus–in helping children prepare for adulthood. How family members usetheir education appears to be more important than how skilled they are in various subjects. Of course, parents also want their children to have good academic skills so they can enjoy lives of achievement and growth. But becoming well-rounded honest adults is the primary focus in raising children.
The basic academic skills that most parents desire (the “core curriculum”) usually consists of history, math, language arts, science, and religious studies. Goals for teaching and learning each of these core subjects should be included in the family’s educational blueprint.
Once this first step of creating a blueprint has been completed, and the desired end has been identified, parents are then in a better position to select the best education that will aim their family members towards each of their goals. This conversion of the blueprint to reality can be exciting and very rewarding.
Step #1, then, is for parents to discuss with their children some educational goals, and have each child write down their goals and future dreams – or have the parents write these down for them as they are discussed in the family setting.
Step #2 -Determining the Starting Point
Before a “dream house” is begun, the plot of ground where it will be built must be tested, evaluated and diagnosed. Not only is the quality of top-soil and bedrock evaluated, but the purchased lot must be squared off and surveyed to the specified parameters.
Likewise, parents will first need to evaluate their children’s skills — academic and otherwise. This includes their physical, spiritual and emotional needs and talents.
A good battery of diagnostic tests can be of benefit in determining where students are academically. There are many ways that parents can have their children evaluated academically. Kimber Academy offers diagnostic testing in the first few weeks of school. This allows parents to see “holes” and also areas of strength in order to help their child focus on the subjects which will most benefit them. (See Appendix I for more information on KA testing)
Step #2, then, is to discover through diagnostic exams the levels of learning for each child.
Step #3–Selecting the Educational Environment
Now that the “groundwork” has been examined and diagnosed, our educational dream-house can be built on that foundation of knowledge. After the “footings” are poured (with “reinforcement bars” for added strength), the shape of the house can be seen.
Selecting an educational environment is like preparing the dream-house’s foundation. Once parents know what they want, they simply look at the entire community as a possible provider of each educational need. Most families find success by combining a number of forms of education. This is especially true for Kimber Academy families who have many hours during the week to take advantage of dual-enrollment at, community colleges, educational businesses, public schools, libraries, and university correspondence courses. Local on-site learning is valuable as well, such as visiting zoos, observatories, or getting involved in community orchestras, choirs, sports, etc. Modern technology has made knowledge available in every subject on every level of learning. This has greatly simplified the education process of almost all students.
When parents are active in the education of their children, they can rapidly see opportunities for learning everywhere.
Step #3, then, is to determine the educational resources, in addition to the Kimber Academy, that are available in your area.
Step #4–Selecting the Core Curriculum
The walls and roof of our dream house must be sturdy and well-built. When finished, they must provide sure protection against heat, cold, storms, and wind. The windows should allow adequate light into the rooms and provide a pleasant view.
Likewise, a good core curriculum will give children the strength of knowledge and spirituality, to overcome adversity and provide sound principles for a good “outlook” on life.
At Kimber Academy, our curriculum is based on the above principles as it emphasizes “Intrinsic Values” and scripturally-based learning (see following section for more details).
Step #4, then, is selecting the curriculum that fits the needs of your family academically and spiritually.
Step #5–Setting Goals for Subject Mastery
The crowning objective to our educational dream-house is doing the landscaping. The yard should be filled with lovely flowers, shrubbery and trees—the walkways laid in. Maybe there is a decorative fence around the lot, and a garden spot out back.
All these things must be planned in advance, and organized according to the ideas on the blueprint.
Similarly, young people want to be organized, but they resist being over-structured. (We do not want to mow the lawn with manicure scissors, after all.) When students are organized and meeting self-imposed goals and deadlines, they are more able to keep focused and progressing in a comfortable pattern. When their goals have been met, they have a feeling of completion–a feeling that they really can achieve.
Setting goals also keeps the students from wandering from one subject to another without purpose, and helps them organize their thinking. At the same time their confidence is built.
At Kimber Academy, our Dean of Students works with parents to assist students in setting and reaching these goals.
When parents keep the end result of the blueprint in mind, remembering what they want their children to be, to do, and to know by the time they are adults, the resulting educational dream-house they have built within each of their children will undoubtedly be the most useful and admirable structures ever imagined!