You Are What You Eat

You’ve undoubtedly heard that old adage. Somehow, I always envision myself as a Burger King Whopper or a Krispy Kreme Donut whenever someone says that. But of course they didn’t mean it quite that literally.

Proper nutrition IS important to have your best homeschool experience. Eating some fresh fruit, yogurt or a scrambled egg with a glass of milk is likely to result in more focused students than two bowls of Choco-Sugar-Bombs cereal with a chocolate-frosted donut and a glass of apple juice!

But that’s NOT the kind of nutrition I want to talk about today. Had you already guessed that? I was thinking rather about the kinds of books, discussions, movies and experiences your children take in. If it’s true that we become what we eat, then “eating” great books about overcoming adversity, doing what’s right and dealing compassionately with others is going to produce a very different result than reading books about skirting the law, clawing your way to the top by stepping on others and making life as easy on yourself as possible, will produce. That’s something I think we can all agree on, right?

But what about “eating” textbooks for history, instead of great historical biographies? What about watching a movie about the life of Thomas Edison instead of reading a science textbook or watching a movie about Kitt Kitteridge instead of a history text about the great depression?

What about inviting your children to a give and take dialogue about what the Pilgrims were hoping to accomplish by coming to America, as opposed to subjecting your children to a long monologue about why the Pilgrims came here? As you perhaps recall, mono means one, and di means two. A two-way interaction between teacher and student always produces better results than a one-way lecture- as most of you know who ever slept through a college lecture!

Going to visit a civil war battlefield or a public aquarium causes an entirely different learning dynamic than reading about the civil war from a history text, or reading about fish in a science text.

My friend Diana Waring says, “What if I invited you over to my house to share a cup of coffee? And what if, when you arrived with your mouth watering for a delicious, aromatic cup of coffee, I instead told you to open your mouth and close your eyes and then quickly shoved in a teaspoon of dehydrated instant coffee crystals?”

As you chewed the crunchy crystals and tried to swallow them, you’d have to admit that it certainly is at least “the essence” of coffee I suppose. It perhaps once was coffee in some sense of the word. It tastes vaguely like coffee. But it’s not likely to satisfy your appetite for coffee. And over time it would almost assuredly ruin any future interest you might have in “drinking” coffee. A distilled, dehydrated textbook or lecture is just never the same as actually “tasting” the subject itself- and is almost a surefire approach to never wanting to think about the subject again once school is over!

If we truly are what we eat, then the choices we make each day in our childrens educational diet will produce very, very different results in the type of learners they grow into over time.

And finally of course, the spiritual dietary choices we make influence the spiritual growth and formation of our lives. Regular time spent reading the Bible, or great biographies about men of faith will produce spiritual strength and maturity over time.

Perhaps all of these concepts are best summarized by a Bible verse. Interestingly, this is the very verse that my wife Jane focused on when choosing the lesson plans and activities for the  Five in a Row curriculum.  Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Doesn’t that summarize the concept? Present your children with real life input that focuses on truth, noble thoughts, righteousness, purity, beauty and admirable qualities. Give them the best books, films and experiences you can provide. Talk with them and not at them. And then stand back and watch the remarkable men and women they become over time as they “eat” the educational diet you lovingly provide each day.

Talk with your children about Philippians 4:8 today and ask them for examples of how they might live out this important verse.

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