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    Stages, Phases, and a Dash of Epistemology

    August 18, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    Si and I are still plugging along in our reading and discussion times together. It has been nice to be study-buddies lately, which is sort of how our relationship started in the first place. I thought I’d take a break from my compulsive typing up of copywork papers and nursing my cold, and instead share a quote that struck me from our reading this weekend:

    To You and Your Children:
    Examining the Biblical Doctrine of Covenant Succession

    [W]ise parents know that preschool children are shaped, elementary-school children are taught, teenage children are directed, and adult children are advised.

    This line caught our attention, and so we read it more than once. The wisdom here is something to consider when determining how we will spend our days with our children, and how we will interact with them. I have noticed over the last year or two that my relationship with my oldest has naturally changed. We were, without knowing it, entering a teaching phase. And yet all of my littles are still being shaped, and I see that, too.

    The same chapter containing this line includes the idea that parents, first and foremost, teach by their example. They teach by what they do. The reader is cautioned not to create a home in which the tone of the home is in direct contradiction to the teaching of the home. The author writes:

    Setting a consistent example that dear children will instinctively follow is the way to get instruction down into the bones. The rationalism that we inherited from the Enlightenment has trained us all to think that everything that we really “know” is that which can be objectively measured and doled out in credit-hours. We have created a great illusory mechanism for making ourselves think that we know how people actually know things. And we identify what they know in terms of what we can measure. We quantify knowledge in such a way that at a parent/teacher conference a teacher can say, without any sense of embarrassment, that a child received an eighty-seven percent on his last English assignment in poetry, as though a poem were like six yards of fabric, or five pounds of flour…[T]his kind of knowledge, the easily measurable kind, is the least important knowledge we have. And it is not the kind of knowledge that children acquire in the home by imitation.

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  • Reply Brandy August 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm


    Thanks for the edit. Note to self: save spelling errors for the body of the text, not the titles!


    You know, I have SACH, but I haven’t read it thoroughly. I will have to check it out. For E., I would say that it was, indeed, between the sixth and seventh birthday that I noticed the change. We are fully in “teaching” now at the age of seven. I had thought that this was somehow connected to my husband’s stay in the hospital, as my son seemed to grow up during that time, but perhaps it would have happened anyhow?

    I think those quotes, by the way, were from chapter seven or eight. They are in the third section for sure.

  • Reply Anonymous August 19, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    What is “epistomology”? (I’ve heard of epistemology…)

  • Reply Mystie August 18, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Oh! I only finished chapter 3. Now you have me itching to hit that book again and find that chapter. 🙂

    Shepherding a Child’s Heart also points to different parenting phases, with the break between training and teaching happening around 6-7. Hans is definitely starting some transitioning, and it makes it difficult to know how to treat him sometimes.

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