A Catholic Education for Every Catholic Kid: Education by Home Schooling

This is the fifth in a series of columns on the importance of giving all Catholic kids a Catholic education.  (Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four.)  The idea of home schooling, while not unheard of these days, still causes many people to squint their eyes, give a puzzled look, and ask, "Why?  What's the point of reinventing the wheel?"  For Catholic parents, the point is actually quite simple.  It is to acknowledge that instructing our children in the ways of the faith is just as important as instructing them in reading, writing, and arithmetic.  By freeing families from school-imposed schedules, home schooling makes it easier for us parents to give our children the heart, hand, and head knowledge we want them to have about the Catholic faith as well as to dive into the traditional school subjects.

If education itself is like a glorious, full-color picture book, then homeschooling, for our family, has been like a pop-up version of that book.  History springs to life as we read about it in our textbook, and then go visit where it took place.  Science projects leap off poster boards and become fully animated adventures to beaches, swamps, labs, and museums.  Like the shapes and colors of a Monet painting, school subjects, family vacations, holy days, and even different grade levels, merge together to produce an integrated lifestyle of learning.  The best byproduct of homeschooling by far, however, is the very special sibling bond that our kids share, having spent so much of their childhoods together.

One thing that surprises most people is that there is no single correct way to home school.  There are, in fact, many different philosophies and methodologies from which to choose. 

Here are four important questions to answer as we investigate home schooling.

First, for what purpose and during what time frame do we want to homeschool?  The curricula we choose, the support groups with which we get involved, and even the space that we convert in our homes for school use will depend on how big of a commitment is being made in time, number of kids/students, and grade levels.

 Second, are we prepared as parents to take on the task?  Of all the school options, this one is going to require the largest investment of parental time, energy, and space in our homes.  Especially if giving our children a Catholic education is one of the reasons we choose to home school, we have to be willing to re-educate ourselves in areas of spiritual, catechetical, or theological weakness.  The same willingness applies to areas of intellectual weakness.  Fortunately, this is not hard to do.  Weekend-long home schooling conferences with speakers, workshops, and curricula galore are available all over the country.  Cooperative classes, support groups, and opportunities for field trips abound in many regions of the country.

Third, how much will home schooling cost?  Every family will be different, but home schooling costs us around $1,000 per kid per year.  On the other end of the scale, a friend in our home school group spends about $15,000 per kid per year, so that her children can attend intense music programs in Boston.

Lastly, "What about socialization?"  It is the question asked most often about home schooling, but it is really based on the false idea that socialization only takes place in a classroom of children of the same age.  It does not.  Socialization actually happens best in a stable environment where a child knows he or she is loved, safe, and has the chance to interact with people of diverse ages and abilities.  Still, some people just can't envision school without buses, desks, and recess.  We found it best to explain our schooling choice by making simple, positive statements about why we were home schooling, and to refrain from negative statements or arguments about why we were not sending those particular children at that particular time to any other particular school.

If you're a parent considering home schooling, there are many home schooling curricula that I would encourage you to consult.  One is the Mother of Divine Grace home schooling program, an excellent review of which is found here.  Others include the Seton Home Schooling program, Catholic Heritage Curricula, and Regina Coeli.

Next time, we will take a look at ways to ensure that a child's faith formation is not left at the schoolhouse door while attending a non-Catholic high school.

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  • Guest

    Thanks for the article.  There are so many things I love about homeschooling.  

    Just wanted to comment briefly on your estimate of what it costs to homeschool.  It's true that you can easily spend $1000 per child because of the plenitude of wonderful materials available – not to mention field trips & lessons.  However, I have spent as little as $150 a year for elementary aged children.  Early on I would buy all the books from a particular curriculum and then make my own lesson plans.   There are also a lot of used books available online and through homeschooling group's sales and networks.  The library is a great resource for literature but also for science and history and anything else you want to study in more detail.     Just didn't want anyone to be intimidated by the sound of $1000 a year.   There are ways to do it more affordably for those of us who need to.

    Thanks & God bless.   

  • Guest

    Someone needs to let the moderator of Catholic exchange to delete the above off of this article.  It is very vulgar and whoever posted this shouldn't be allowed to post anymore on Catholic exchange.

    MODERATOR Please NOTE the ABOVE POST!

    God Bless and thanks Heidi for the great Article

    Kelly Thanking God everyday for the Gift of staying home and home schooling my children. :)

  • Guest

    I am a strong supporter of home-schooling.  However, there is a danger in homeschooling.  The danger happens when parents believe that they are more capable than they are.  There is a point at which most parents cannot provide the curriculum necessary.  Is it college?  Is it high school?  Is it middle school?  Of the six Catholic home-schooled families that I know locally, two families are doing well.  The other four are not and I would rather not explain the various problems – but there is no doubt most of you would agree with me.  If you home-school, do so with the humility necessary to realize when your children need help.  Then, hopefully you will have a good Catholic school system to entrust your children to.

  • Guest

    Kelly,

    Thank you for letting us know about the bad comments!They have been removed.

    Thanks again!

    Brian

  • Guest

    I echo Greg's comments which is why I posted particular comments for the "Do you need credentials to teach?" article.

    I believe homeschooling is a calling.  It is not for everybody.  Just because you're a faithful Catholic doesn't mean you're called to homeschool.  Just because you have a large family doesn't mean you're called to homeschool.  Just because you've been doing it for 15 years doesn't mean you're called to homeschool at that moment in time.

    When I began homeschooling my children, some of them had been in either public or parochial  schools or both.  At one point I felt a deep calling in my heart to homeschool the children, but it chilled because of my fear (mainly of not providing the correct curriculum for the kids).  Then my husband began to become  convinced of the benefits of homeschooling.  Finally, one day, while watching the kids do a project I had planned, I had a "St Paul on the Road to Damascus" experience.  I felt like I had literally been thrown against the wall while God said, "You can homeschool, and I will show you how."

    I have had a peace about our decision ever since; and, I feel I've been lead to the  correct materials for each child.  Whenever, my vocation to homeschool appears overwhelming, I remember God's promise to me.  My Guardian Angel helps me regroup and regain my focus.

    When I discuss our family's decision to homeschool with other people including other homeschooling families, teachers in Catholic or public schools, or ordinary Janes and Joes I meet at the park, I always emphasize that the decision to homeschool was a positive choice we made for the good of our family.  It was not a reaction to outside forces.

    I feel empowered in my decision making process. My husband and I are actors in our lives.  For instance, we have discerned that some of the children over the course of our 12 year homeschooling career needed an educational environment outside of homeschooling.  Those kids went or are in the public school system for a time. I currently have 4 homeschool students, 3 public school students, 3 toddlers/babies, and 1 university student. The virtue of prudence must be lived in order to decide what is the best schooling situation for each child and the family at a given moment in time.

    For us, homeschooling and the support system now available to us have helped us forge a strong Catholic family which is perhaps due to the intercession of the family for which our school is named:  Holy Family Academy.

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