The development of character is an important facet of creating a child who is whole and emotionally healthy. As a homeschool parent, it is important to not only help the child develop intellect through study, and a work ethic by giving opportunities for both useful and gainful employment, but an altruistic spirit by creating opportunities for service to others. Children from tots to teens can purposefully serve others, bringing joy to others lives, and growing beautiful hearts at the same time. Service to others should be a family focus and an part of every homeschool plan. Dr. Raymond Moore, sometimes called the grandfather of homeschooling, says that “when united with the heart, the head and hand move out in selfless service to others. There is no discipline formula that can match this experience of work and service” [Home School Burnout p. 135].
Implementing work and service into a homeschool program is sometimes called the ‘study, work, and service’ formula. Applying the ‘study, work, and service’ method of home education can require that a parent-teacher think outside of the box. Most people think of schoolwork, textbooks, copywork, and the three R’s when they think of a homeschool curriculum. But, the development of the intellectual is only one facet of education. When combined with work and service, the academic aspects of homeschooling become one-third of a whole. In the beginning it takes effort and concentration to figure out exactly how to apply ‘study, work and service’. It is generally recommended that each aspect receive equal time. Planning purposefully to achieve this goal is essential, although there is room for an ebb and flow in scheduling. Over time it becomes easier and how it is applied becomes natural and unique to each family.
Writer, E. White, speaks of service to others as being a meaningful experience. She says that “a company of believers. . .may do a work in the home, the neighborhood, the church, and even in ‘the regions beyond’, whose results will be as far-reaching as eternity.” A few paragraphs later, she applies this principle specifically to the young, saying that “it is because this work is neglected that so many young disciples never advance beyond the mere alphabet of Christian experience” [Desire of Ages p. 640]. How appropriate that she compares service to the alphabet of Christian experience. Just as study teaches children the alphabet of academics, Christ’s alphabet reaches farther and deeper, shaping hearts and hands for eternity.
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister — so should we, by example and instruction. Everyone is needed, both young and old. Together as families we can develop a finishing spirit and see a job well done.