Before we attempt to train our children, we need to understand their nature. This will help us determine the right methods, which should be employed to train them—whether at home or at school.
The God who is revealed through His Word in Scripture knows even our very thoughts. He is the One who has complete understanding of human nature. It is only on the basis of what He tells us that we are truly able to determine how best to train our children and how they can achieve their greatest potential for themselves, for our society, and for the Lord.
Many child psychologists teach that children are basically good, but the Bible teaches otherwise. Psalm 51:5 states, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." In Proverbs 22:15, we read: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." And in Proverbs 29:15 we read that "the rod and reproof give wisdom: But a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame."
Children are a precious "heritage of the LORD" (Psalm 127:3), and are a great blessing in a Christian home (I have five of them!). Nevertheless, children, like adults, must be viewed, first of all, as sinful creatures (Romans 3:23). Because of the sin nature inherent in all mankind received from Adam, we are more likely to be influenced by the bad than by the good. It is easy to let children do that which is wrong. Just leave them to themselves, and they will express their true, sinful natures. This means that to encourage children to be "good" (obedient to parents, to God, etc.), parents and teachers must work together to stem their inherent penchant toward rebelliousness and self-will.
Many people do not understand the full implications of Proverbs 22:6: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Training involves more than just teaching. The Hebrew word is usually translated "dedicate," implying a very straight and single-minded commitment to a definite goal.
Similarly, we are to train children in the true way, spiritually and morally, giving no options. For a Christian, it is not that truth is the best policy, as if it were an option; truth is the only policy. Children who are merely taught can hear other teaching and easily depart from the truth because of their sinful natures and their bias against God, as expressed in that nature. Thus, to cause children to be influenced for good, much work must be done. It will even involve Biblical principles of discipline—even chastening, when necessary. The Bible sometimes mentions "the rod" (Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 29:17 etc.). In other words, we must work diligently to train them in truth, condemning error for what it is. Any parent knows that when a restraining influence is taken from children, it doesn't take long for them to start doing things which are not right, thus expressing their sinful natures. The Hebrew word for "rod" can, in context, mean what we might call a stick, or switch, or paddle. When necessary to use such a "rod," of course, the child must not be physically injured, or punished unjustly. The purpose is loving correction, not parental bullying.
God applies these same principles to us, His adult "children." Hebrews 12:5-11 states: "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou are rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you, as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."
God's chastening is a restraining influence, in order that we might conform to that which is good. As God chastens us, so earthly fathers are to discipline and train their own children. Especially when children start school, they are more likely to be led astray by others, rather than to influence their peers toward that which is right. "Be not deceived: Evil communications corrupt good manners" (I Corinthians 15:33). This literally means, "bad company corrupts good character." In other words, the principle which we see expressed around us (and also observe in Scripture) is that the bad is more likely to influence the good, than the good to influence the bad, because of our sinful, human, Adamic natures.
Consider the example of Lot. He first pitched his tent toward Sodom before moving into the city, and soon was to be found sitting at the gates with the city's wicked leaders. When the time came for judgment of the city, Lot's sons-in-law did not believe him. His family had not influenced the others for good; they had been influenced for ill. Even though Lot, himself, was seemingly unaffected by the evil around him, the rest of his family was greatly influenced. "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32).
Whether in public schools, Christian schools' or home schools, parents must be aware of the influence teachers and other students have on their children. Non-Christian teachers, without Christian convictions' certainly cannot train their students in Christian truth. As these children are trained with an anti-God, evolutionary framework, sinful temptations are introduced, and, because of their children's inherent tendencies toward evil and away from God, parents must be even more diligent at home, to refute these influences.
Children are not miniature adults, and while they are children, we must be very careful to employ the methods of Biblical teaching concerning their training. While they are still children, we must be extremely diligent that we educate them in the truth, leaving them no option. Only as they mature will they be able to influence others in the same way. "But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).
It is vitally important to understand that the family is the first and most fundamental of all human institutions founded in Scripture and that the family has its foundation in the literal events of the book of Genesis. This fundamental institution—the family—is the educational unit that God uses to transmit His knowledge from one generation to the next, and thus to the world. Satan knows that if he can destroy the family, he will succeed in destroying the nation, because the family is the backbone of the nation. Sadly, he is accomplishing this in great strides today, because most parents are not training their children in the truths of Scripture.
We need to return to Scripture, to return to the family, and to return to the truths and principles laid down in the Bible, beginning with the foundational book of Genesis.