In our study of the Training of a Child, we’ve examined various aspects of child instruction and have seen the necessary identification of the Who of child training as the responsibility of the parents. We’ve seen the Why of child training to be the development of the child. We’ve also seen the Where of child training to be within the parameters of the home. We now look to the When of child training to see the prevention of the departure.
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” (Isaiah 28:9)
Simply stated, training should begin as soon as is practically possible in order to insure the best results later in life. This does not mean that parenting needs to be overly aggressive. A two-year old cannot be expected to learn to fly a plane, regardless of the intensity of instruction they may receive. But children should be encouraged and challenged when they are developing. If a child is capable of learning, he or she should be taught.
We see this basic principle employed to a degree when a child is taught to walk and talk. Parents do not wait until the child goes to school to teach him these things, but they begin this preparatory training before the need arises. This applies equally in every area of training. In fact, education is a systematic approach to learning where each new level builds on the previous one’s achievements.
“He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)
The word “betimes” indicates the appropriate time for chastening to be the time before the need for correction. You don’t wait until he sticks his hand to the hot stove to slap your son’s hand away; you slap his hand away to prevent him from touching the stove. The need for chastening reveals the rebellious nature of a child; and this nature will be manifested unless it is corrected by appropriate chastisement.
The early childhood years are the formative years; and the responsibility of the parents is to begin instruction as soon as the child is able to receive it. In such a manner, the child’s mind is as receptive as a freshly plowed field is to the seed being planted. This receptivity in early childhood places an even greater responsibility on the parents to provide training in the way he should go before he starts on his way, and not to wait until after he has begun to depart therefrom. This is the Biblical directive.