Relationships are the number one focus in all our efforts as we homeschool our children. There is the vertical relationship between the individual and God and there is the horizontal relationships between each other. The family is our first relational sphere as a child. This is the practice ground for all our living.What does “Relationships first” look like in a homeschool?Priorities: God – Family – OthersCharacter traits directed at RelationshipsServing OthersCommunicating to othersConflict ResolutionMannersCitizenshipArticles of interestFAQ about Relationships first concept
Any primary focus has to affect the day-to-day, real life of a family; else it is just a good theory. Relationships first in our family mean we make the issues of relationships a priority in our day. This means:
- We give relationship issues our prime time in our day
- We stop any other activity if there is a relational area out of whack
- We feel as if we are achieving our goals if we spend a day on relational issues
Seeing relational issues, as the prime focus of our days, has been a major reshuffling of our preconceived ideas of what education is all about. It cuts across the idea that we are training the brain, the academics.
A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living.
- Charles Swindoll
God, Family and then Others is a priority order that Peter and I have to work on in our own life and one that we want to pass onto our children. When we look at the commitments we take on, or the activities we plan we need to see if we have these priorities in place.
We want our children to have a personal relationship with God and to this end our morning is arranged in such a way that allows these relationships time to grow. When the children are young, we sit with them on our knee and read God’s Word to them, as we are out and about we point out God’s creation and character, as we correct them we put in front them God’s Law. As the children grow older and take on a love for God themselves we have allowed time in our day, for them to spend in reading, meditation and prayer.
for more information on the God Relationship factor.
Character is important regardless of age, gender, race, and religious belief. Though our family approaches character training from the perspective of our Christian belief, it is also a life skill, which affects all relationships.
Character Education is important to our family and therefore it has its own place on our website. See
Each and every one of these character traits is going to affect our relationships with other people. There are however a few specific traits that need to be a primary consideration in terms of relational skills.
Many of the activities that are necessary in a family home are often categorised as life skills – cooking, cleaning and maintenance to name a few. I see this as an opportunity to train our children in the skills they need if they are going to be helpful and practical people, able to serve others.
Who are the
others in our life?
One of the strong, influential thinking around families today is that we need to teach our children independent skills. My heart cringes at this thought. This is not my plan at all.
My plan is to give my children life skills in order to be able to help others.
Life's most urgent question is:
What are you doing for others?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cleaning – Children can all learn to clean. But can they learn to see what needs to be cleaned? If they can, they will be able to help others by seeing a need and jumping in there and doing it!
Cooking – Children love to cook. I must admit this is a hard one for me as I like to be in the kitchen by myself but we are working on it! The ability to cook leads to hospitality, caring for the needs of people. We have had opportunity to cook for friends who are snowed under, pregnant mums, new parents, and families where there is sickness or age.
Maintenance – Caring for our property is an important skill of stewardship. For the children this starts with their toys and progresses to maintenance jobs such as mowing the lawn or changing light bulbs. Once again, here is a set of skills, if mastered can be used to bless others around us.
Charity - Charity is not a word that is used frequently in today’s everyday language and yet, the need for compassion, and generosity towards the poor (of body, mind and spirit) is still there in our world.
The dictionary definition of Charity is:
- Provision of help or relief to the poor; almsgiving.
- Something given to help the needy; alms.
- Benevolence or generosity toward others or toward humanity.
This is the area of our life where our practical skills can be put to use. There is opportunity to show charity not only in our local community, but also in the world at large.
starts at home with family friendly activities - leading to a heart that wants to be involved in people's lives.
Gift Giving - I am reminded of the five love languages, as set out in the book of the same title,
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. We understand and speak love by
Quality time / Words of Affirmation / Gifts
Acts of Service / Physical touch
There are many opportunities during our days, during our week, to show people that we love them; be it family or friends.
Making Gifts is Educational
Without communication we struggle to have relationships. My dad taught me this proverb when I was a teenager working on my peer relationships. Prov 13:17 Reliable communication permits progress. (TLB)
Conversation has many affects on our relationships.
- We can befriend people
- We can persuade people
- We can put things right
- We can influence people
Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.
- Robert Half
Be a Good Listener Communication is a two way thing; with a speaker & a listener. Both parties have an important role to play if there is to be understanding. Listening is a vital aspect of homeschool / family life.
The finest art of communication
is not learning how to express your thoughts.
It is learning how to draw out
the thoughts of another.
~ Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Non-Verbal (body language)
Conflict resolution is a character skill that is often left to adulthood to address. We have all sorts of professional people who are to help us get along with each other. It is much better to learn this very important skill amongst your family.
Within a family there is often conflict. A healthy family doesn’t mean no conflict, it means we place value on relationships and take the time to keep those relationships right.
Many of the skills for getting along with people are addressed in our Character Education though I draw attention to the character trait of
is plying one's power over another - and it can happen in your home!
Article from Jo Jo Tabares, from Art of Eloquence writes about 10 Quick Rules for Disagreeing in Grace
When we act within the boundaries of
Manners we show respect to the people around us. Just like Charity – Manners start at home.
For manners to be real they need to be practiced so much that they become a part of the way a person acts, naturally. Manners must be more than a set of etiquette rules; they must come from the heart. Once again, the value that drives good manners is the preciousness of other people.
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.
- Emily PostHospitality
Authority on social behaviour 1872-1960
is sharing our resources - our time, our home, our things, our gifts with others. Having people around you is the only way you will be able to practice your manners.
Character Notes on Hospitality A collection of thoughts, discussion topics and ideas that have come out of our intentional study of hospitality.
Hospitality, Caught more than Taught
an article by Phyllis Sather, which helps us see the basics and how simple it is to pass these things onto our children.
Living in this great country of ours comes with rights, privileges and duties of belonging. We need to be aware of our duties and we need to be thankful for the privileges.
Q. I am afraid that if I allow myself to put relationships first I will spend all day playing with my children.
A. The first thing that has to be with this concept of educating your children is that you are intentional. We have goals that cover every area of our children's life, we have learnt of each child's passions; these factors create an intentional plan. But.... we also know that unless our life is undergirded by relationships we have achieved nothing.
Read more about Having a plan and vision for your family.
The second thing is that it is not every day that we spend all day on these areas. There are seasons that it may appear so, there are times when family relationships do seem a little out of whack and need some extra TLC. If we are intentional about our relationships though, we can find that balance.
Resources from my shelf:
Occasionally I'll link you to books that have helped me in these areas. Where possible these links will contain affiliate links.
About the Photos
I have purposefully chosen to place our regular family photos on our website to show what these things look like in a real family.
The photo on this page is of Daniel, only 4 years old, saying goodbye to his Grandfather at the airport. Though it has become a tradition to photograph the last hugs and handshakes they really do come from the heart first. We have taught our boys to both shake a hand and to be able to give a manly-hug!
Live life with your kids!
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