21st Century George Washington Wisdom for Your Home School

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Do you ever ask yourself what George Washington would think or wonder what his response would be to a burning question…Or is that just me? We really do love history around here, and I’m often in awe of the wisdom that can be gained from studying it.

We talk a lot about our founding fathers, and sometimes I wonder what kind of advice our founding fathers might give us today if we had full access to them for personal counsel. Of course my children have their own list of questions that include everything from: “How did you have enough power to win so many battles?” to “What was your favorite food?” Quite frankly, the list goes on and on and it becomes rather entertaining.

So, early this summer, a detour on the route home from a fun camping trip took us on a rabbit trail that led us to George Washington’s birthplace at Pope’s Creek, Virginia. It turned out to be a cloudy, yet enlightening day to reflect on the life and time of the first President of the United States. And although I didn’t get his ear, even for a moment, just a few hours in his world provided a new perspective on how to apply his principles to mine.

Studying history always leads to valuable insight.

Lesson 1: Growing your family pays off.

It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn. -George Washington

Family roots were priority to the Washingtons, according to our guide of the plantation. Deliberate intentions were to plant for a more plentiful harvest both agriculturally and socially. As a result, each year the roots grew substantially deeper than the year prior, thus strengthening the family’s place in the community. George’s father Augustine was a successful farmer, businessman, and local politician. Generations of Washingtons had grown to be leaders and churchmen; they were known givers. The fruits of their labors would be seen for many years to come.

What do I mean by growing? Growing our family in size, yes (if that’s a possibility for your family). Growing our family in heart, yes. Is that what we are called to do, strengthen our families, tend our gardens diligently and faithfully for a more abundant harvest? Is that part of why you’re homeschooling? Are you intentionally sowing seeds in your family and community that will sprout and flourish in God’s perfect timing?

Lesson 2: Your plans don’t always prevail.

The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail. -George Washington

Once George aspired to wear the brilliant coat of red, but was deemed unworthy by his lack of education. His dream never materialized in the manner he’d hoped; it was surpassed by God’s plan. He was part of a larger plan. Imagine the outcome if he’d not led the Continental Army and how that would’ve changed the course of history. It was through his courage, endurance, and faith that he—and we—prevailed.

It might be hard as a homeschooling parent when things don’t go according to your plan. You’ve picked the right curriculum and have all the right supplies. You’ve done your homework and checked it twice. But somehow you’re off course. While it’s important to have a plan, flexibility is key. Margin is essential and balance can be hard to find. Go ahead and set goals at the beginning of each season while asking for His guidance and discernment. All we can do is our personal best and trust that, in the end, it will work out according to the plan that really matters.

Lesson 3: Bartering is alive and well!

Trade isn’t limited to early America. Tobacco, rice, fur, coal, textiles, fish, and other raw goods were traded amongst the colonies to enrich colonial life. Raw goods traded for finished goods made life more comfortable.

The same can apply to your home school. Think outside the box to obtain services and items you need. What do you have that others need or want? Could you possibly offer piano lessons in lieu of math tutoring? Would you be willing to babysit in exchange for curriculum? What goods or services do you have that others may find valuable? Be creative and barter with friends—or outsource the things you can or want to!

Lesson 4: Honesty is still the best policy.

[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous. -George Washington

We’ve all heard the short story of the beautiful English Cherry tree that George supposedly chopped down after being made master of a new hatchet and his most infamous cry of how he could not tell a lie. This embellished tale was merely an illustration of George’s honesty and integrity.

We all know character development isn’t strengthened by lies. We generally apply this rule in terms of lying to others. But I encourage you to look deeper at how it affects your home school on a personal level. Do you lie to yourself? We can be our own worst enemy and plant seeds of doubt about how we measure up. Comparing our lessons, children, home schools, and ourselves to others. While it’s possible to be discouraged and focus on shortcomings, try to avoid that pitfall. Shortcomings and gaps are reality. Be honest with yourself and your family about the day-to-day expectations and imperfections. It’s not always going to be easy. In fact, it may never be easy, but it will be worth it.

Lesson 5: Great things are built on a strong foundation.

It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor. -George Washington

The Washington family is a huge part of our great nation’s foundation. Washington’s accomplishments are plentiful and varied. His beginning as a successful farmer and surveyor to leading the Continental Army, winning the American Revolution, setting up the federal judiciary, becoming the first President, and establishing the United States Navy—just to list a few—show he was dedicated to his cause. Success upon success, rock by rock, our foundation was strengthened.

Your homeschool is your responsibility as our developing nation was Washington’s. How are you building that strong base that will support future success? One rock at a time, you can solidify principles that will change your child’s future. I’d love to be able to fast forward 200 years and be able to see a plentiful harvest as a result of my faithfulness and utilizing those Washington principles in our 21st century home school.

Faith, relationships, respect, self-esteem, and a love for learning are a few pieces of the bottom layer here at the Windy Hill Academy. I would encourage you to be in constant prayer for your homeschool, your family, homeschool organizations, your co-ops, other moms/teachers, and kids. The community surrounding you is such an integral part of what you’re doing. Focus on the things that build up now so that it’s nearly impossible to tear down later.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. –Proverbs 22:6

Lesson 6: The fight for liberty is timeless.

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. -George Washington

Whether it is a new nation emerging, the abolishment of slavery, the free exercise of religion, or taking a stand for parental rights, there will always be a fight for liberty. The context may change, but the principle of standing up for what you believe in will never die.

So, as we celebrate our nation’s independence, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with continued gratitude for those who have come before us to secure freedom, not only for our countrymen, but for our home schools as well. Despite it being cliché, it’s important to remember that “freedom isn’t free” or at least wasn’t for many who have gone before us. Take the time to be thankful for all of your freedoms and the ability to raise a new generation of independence.

The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity. -George Washington

Happy Independence Day Everyone! God Bless America!

~Kristy

Feeling patriotic and inspired? Check out:

We Still Hold These Truths by Matthew Spalding

Dr. Michael T. George’s My Story of America

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