The Gift of Time

Last week I had the pleasure of being part of a panel discussion on beginning homeschooling at the 1st Annual New England Catholic Homeschooling Conference. I have just finished my first year of formal homeschooling my two sons who have successfully completed 2nd and 1st grade. I am hardly what one would consider a homeschooling veteran. Thankfully, the conference had several other speakers with many years of homeschooling experience under their belts. Yet, I felt I did have something to offer this particular group of people I found myself standing in front of. Sometimes when one has been doing something for a long time, one forgets the fear one felt at the beginning. I could recognize and relate to the fear in the eyes in front of me. Hopefully, I helped to allay some of their concerns and helped convince them that they could take on the awesome task of educating their children.

It has been said that homeschooling is a separate call within the call of motherhood. Certainly, not every one is cut out to homeschool and I am very grateful that there are schools. Nevertheless, some women know even before their children are born that homeschooling is what they were meant to do. For others, the call comes later, perhaps out of necessity. Then there are people like me who hear the call, pray about it, and still run in the opposite direction! I first heard the call when my older son was just shy of two years old. I read a homeschooling magazine and was intrigued by this alternate means of education. I read everything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. I thought it would be such a good fit for us. Nevertheless, I sent both that child and his younger brother to school because I wanted to be “normal.” School was a disaster for them, yet I was still determined to stay the course. God basically needed to smack me over the head to get me to finally heed the call. I received a letter from my son’s first grade teacher last April telling me that there was no way my very anxiety prone son was going to be able to cope with second grade. I had no choice. I had to take the plunge and I was absolutely terrified. Thankfully, I had some friends who homeschooled who greatly helped with that transition with prayer, support and advice.

While certainly not always easy, this past year has been a great gift. We belong to Western Mass Catholic Homeschoolers whom we meet with twice a week. Both my children and I have made great friends. As far as their actual education goes, we completed all the textbooks, something that rarely happens in a traditional educational setting. Perhaps the greatest gift, however, was the gift of time. Our lives were so much more relaxed once school was taken out of the equation. There were no more morning battles. If the children wanted to sleep past 6:15 a.m., this was no longer a big deal. There were no more after-school battles regarding homework. No more rushing from school to after-school activities. No more struggling to find the time to visit grandparents. No more hearing complaints about how there was no time to play. Homeschooling is very time efficient. Most days, we finished all formal lessons by noon and that was with breaks. Afternoons were spent reading for enjoyment, playing games, and pursuing individual interests. There was time for frequent play dates with friends. After-school activities were no longer a burden. There was plenty of time to spend visiting with other family members, nurturing those relationships.

For people considering homeschooling as a possibility for next year, the strongest argument that I could give them to try it is that they will get to truly enjoy their time with their children. Not only that, but their children will also get to enjoy their time. Time is a gift from God. How we use it matters whether we are 8 or 80. Homeschooling provides the ability to use time more wisely and that is an incredible gift for which I am so very thankful.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

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Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur writes from western Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and two sons. A Senior Editor with Catholic Lane.com, she blogs at http://spiritualwomanthoughts.blogspot.com

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  • Claire

    Thank you for this article, Patrice. My son is only 17 months old, but this is an issue that I think about a lot. We intentionally bought a house in an excellent school district long before Jeffrey. But even in the best of school districts, there’s always the risk of the children being exposed to “Heather Has Two Mommies” or worse. Not to mention the fact that in school for 6 hours out of the day Jeffrey wouldn’t hear even the slightest mention of God. I have my doubts about my ability to provide a well-rounded curriculum, and I worry about the potential limits on social interaction for my son who will most likely be an only child. But your point about the gift of time is indeed very compelling. Now that it’s looking like I’m going to be able to quit my fulltime job and be home most of the time, I want to have as much time as possible to enjoy Jeffrey’s childhood which is flying by (especially after missing so much of his infancy).

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  • kford

    Thanks Patrice! Time is one of the greatest treasures we homeschooling parents have. I’ve often said that when my kids were in school, the teachers had them during their best hours of the day. I only saw them when they were tired and crabby. Now, we have those good hours together and our relationships are stronger because of it!

    Claire–there are many solid, Catholic homeschooling curriculum providers: Kolbe, Mother of Divine Grace, Seton, and Catholic Heritage Curricula (to name a few). You don’t have to design it all yourself. And if you have a Catholic Homeschooling group in your area, other mothers will be one of your greatest resources.

    God bless!

  • pfmacarthur

    Claire,

    I am so happy for you that you may be able to stay home with your son! I know that is something you have wanted for a long time!

    As Karen (who was the other part of that same panel discussion!) indicated, there are many options when it comes to homeschooling. Plus, you have plenty of time. Enjoy this time when your son is small!

    Patrice

  • Claire

    Thanks Patrice. I’m so grateful that this opportunity is materializing. I’ll have to work very part time night shift in the hospital, but I’ll have so much more time with Jeffrey than I do now. As soon as my husband is able to increase his hours from part time to fulltime, we’re going to make the switch!

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