One of the questions I am most frequently asked by LDS homeschooling moms is, "How do you bring the gospel into all the subjects?" I answer truthfully, "I don't." I don't go out of my way to bring the gospel into all subjects; I let the Spirit nudge me when I need to bring the gospel into our lessons.
I have found that there are two basic things you need to do to have a gospel centered homeschool: prepare your family (and yourself) and then let the Spirit guide. You prepare yourselves by obtaining the word, treasuring the word and by prayer and fasting and holding family scripture, prayer and home evening. When you have done this you stay prayerful and let the Holy Spirit guide.
"Obtain my Word"
Search, ponder and pray
Are the things that I must do.
The Spirit will guide, and deep inside,
I'll know the scriptures are true.
(Children's Songbook page 109, words by Jaclyn Thomas Milne)
This is the chorus of one of my favorite Children's Hymn. It speaks truth. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself to bring the gospel into the secular subjects you teach is by first learning the gospel yourself. The Lord told Hyrum Smith, "See not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men" (D&C 11:21). That promise is given to all who first seek and study the Lord's word.
Before we can teach the doctrines found in the scriptures we must know them ourselves. We must study them, pray about them, think about them and make them become part of us. It is only then that we can teach them. We don't have to use them word for word, or even know where to find each chapter and verse; we need to know of their teachings, their truth, their spirit and then we can teach them by the Spirit to our children. They will become the guide and answer to our lives. It amazes me how many times what I read in my personal study is either an answer to a parenting problem I am having or the very next week it comes up in our schooling.
We must treasure the scriptures. We must show our children we treasure them. I had a friend who lost her house in a fast moving wild fire in the San Diego fires years ago. They were told to evacuate their home in the middle of the night. In an email to her friends she tells how in three minutes she threw on some clothes, woke her kids, grabbed a diaper for the baby and then her scriptures and left her dream house only to return weeks later to find only ashes. She treasured her scriptures.
The Lord has told us to store up treasures in heaven, "… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (3 Nephi 13:20). He has also told us to "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man" (D&C 84:85). For those who are seeking, pondering, praying, studying and diligently treasuring up the word of God, He will give you what needs to be said when the time arises.
"Prayer and Fasting"
There is no better way to invite the Spirit into your own study than by praying and fasting. If we start our formal personal scripture study with a prayer and end with it as well, it helps solidify the things we have studied. They become part of you. You can recall them and the lessons learned. If you add fasting to the equation it magnifies what you are reading, studying, pondering and learning.
Alma tells us that he learned through prayer and fasting, "Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? … I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me."
We can have the "spirit of revelation" when we study the scriptures, pray and fast. How cool is that when you are teaching a secular subject to your own children?
How often have our prophets, both ancient and modern, told us to gather our families and study the scriptures? Today that call is loud and clear and it seems to get louder each General Conference. Elder Bednar's talk in October 2009 entitled "More Diligent and Concerned at Home" has some great council for parents who are struggling to hold family scriptures study, pray and Family Home Evening.
"Each family prayer, each episode of family scripture study, and each family home evening is a brushstroke on the canvas of our souls. No one event may appear to be very impressive or memorable. But just as the yellow and gold and brown strokes of paint complement each other and produce an impressive masterpiece, so our consistency in doing seemingly small things can lead to significant spiritual results. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33). Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work in our individual lives and as we become more diligent and concerned in our own homes."
I know many homeschooling moms who question if Family Home Evening is necessary when you spend all day with the children learning as it is. Yes, it is important. It is important because you are obeying the council of the Lord's prophet. Assuming that your husband works during the time you teach, he is home and can preside even if he doesn't hold the Priesthood. And if you are a single mom, it sets apart a special time for family bonding and family gospel learning. I can't recall very many weeks that have gone by in the twenty-two years of our marriage that we didn't hold Family Home Evening. We are faithful in family prayer and scripture study too, even during the summer when my teenagers would rather sleep in than get up early for family scripture time. I'm sure that one of these days we will reap the blessings of obedience and consistency.
One blessing we are reaping now is that my children are comfortable with spiritual topics and stories. Some are still very young, but they are forming habits that will last them a lifetime. They are learning stories and lessons that will pop into their minds when needed. It also makes my job easier when the opportunity arises in our studies to mention a scriptures story or verse. The foundation is laid in our family and in their individual lives.
“Let the Holy Spirit Guide"
When you have properly prepared your family and (more importantly) yourself you will notice opportunities pop up all over the place to bring scriptures and the gospel into your secular lessons. You can even tell your college student "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30), just before a huge calculus test.
Lately we have been studying the human body. We have chosen a Christian based curriculum and when I read the scripture passages printed on the page they seem forced and they lack the spirit. Yet, when I stop, take a deep breath and I can bare testimony to my children the miracle of the human body. I can testify from my heart and through the Spirit that our Heavenly Father was behind the design of our body and He is the God of our universe. It isn't a forced testimony, but one directed by the Spirit.
I love the simple message in our hymn "Let the Holy Spirit Guide"
Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our mind with heaven's view.
(words by Penelope Moody Allen)
Don't force the scriptures in your school; prepare yourself and your family and let the Spirit guide you. He will tell you what you need to say, when to say it and how to say it. You will be amazed at how much the Spirit will guide you and how much you can bring the gospel into your own homeschool.
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