As a homeschooling mom, I'm continuously faced with choices. There are so many choices to make, specifically when it comes to choosing the curriculum we will use to teach what is required by our state. Part of teaching reading involves exposing our students to literature from diverse cultures. This may seem beneficial and harmless to some, while intimidating to others, depending on the worldview they have adopted in life. As a Christian homeschooling mom, it is my position that it can be beneficial to introduce children to literature from other cultures, but it will need to be taught from the perspective of a Christian worldview.
Let me give you an example where I recently had to make this choice in real life. I came across the next story that we were going to read from the book we are using for reading. It didn't take long, two sentences into the story to be precise, that I found myself having to pause when I read the words: "sky god". I skimmed through it and realized I would need to decide if I would skip this story and avoid dealing with something that my kids might find confusing, or if I was going to do the harder thing and spend a little extra time talking through this story and explaining to my kids about other people's beliefs around the world. Aside from it being easier to just skip this story altogether, it also seemed to me that it might protect my children's belief in God if I didn't expose them to the concept of people believing in other gods. So what did we end up doing? We did the harder thing. Harder for me and my kids.
Before I explain how I went about it, lets talk about who might not find this a hard or intimidating thing to do at all. People with a different worldview from Christianity may not see any harm in simply reading a story involving gods. If you don't believe that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the way to eternal life, then there may be an openness to learn and even practice other religions. Or, if you are someone that does not believe in the supernatural, you might think of stories involving gods to be no more different than a story about a pink unicorn: harmless and completely having to do with the imagination. This makes me wonder about the worldview of the people that create our state standards, and why there is an apparent bias against the Christian worldview being included and promoted within cultural literature.
Now let's discuss why it is beneficial to read stories from other cultures in the first place. As tempting as it may be to never introduce our children to other beliefs and practices from other cultures, this may actually be a missed opportunity to equip our children to think critically about other worldviews and how our Christian worldview responds to differing ideas and claims. Also, the Bible itself doesn't exclude informing us about other worldviews. The Bible contains information about what other people believed and practiced throughout history. Although as Christians we are not of this world, we do live in this world. It is impossible to shield ourselves and our children completely from what goes on in it. Reading about other people's beliefs during homeschooling can be similar to reading about them in the Bible. We hear the reasons why those practices are wrong and harmful in the Bible, and we can do the same as we come upon them in our own homeschooling journey. Here are the steps I took talking with my kids about this "sky god" story that I would recommend any homeschooling mom follows as well, especially if you are just getting started down this harder homeschooling path.
Step #1: Remind your children what Jesus commanded his disciples to do: preach the gospel to the whole world, baptizing and making disciples. The reason Jesus commanded us to do this is that there are people all over the world that don't know about our God and need us to share about Him with them. As a result of their not knowing about God, there are a lot of people that have created their own false gods.
Step #2: Talk about how the Bible mentioned times when people would create their own gods with their own hands, and how God would point out the obvious: how can a god be created by the people that worship it? A real God is the creator. He makes us, not the other way around.
Step #3: Just because someone writes down a story about a god, doesn't mean it's true. If we are going to believe in God, we need information to help us have good reasons to believe in Him. As Christians, one good reason we have is how Jesus came saying he was the Son of God, who would die and be raised again, and many people saw him appear to them after his crucifixion.
Step #4: Pray before you read the story together. Let your children hear you tell God that your faith is in Him alone and that you want his help as you read the story you are about to read.
Step #5: Point out things as you read that are obviously not true about reality.
Step #6: Make note of the genre and changes made to the story and compare how it's different to another genre that claims something is an explanation for reality, like the Bible.
These are only a few steps you can take as you have conversations with your students. Your children might not understand why it is important to discuss these things in depth, but you are preparing them to think critically about what they are exposed to and you are shaping their worldview to align with that of Christianity. Some people may have an issue with parents encouraging their children to adopt their own worldview, but either way, either a school, the media, a friend, a book, someone or something will be doing this if not you. It's better for you, as the person responsible for bringing them into this world to share with them your carefully thought out worldview, and teach them the reasons why you believe it is stronger than others. Have fun with your little ones mamas and dadas!