A New Era of Catholic Homeschooling

Regardless of your previous experience or opinion of homeschooling, that all changed back in March, 2020 when almost every parent in the world became a homeschooling parent as a result of the pandemic. This new approach to schooling and all the stress and complications that came with it continued through to the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Graduates, from kindergarten to college, were making do with drive-through graduations or zoom celebrations. It was a difficult and challenging time for everyone.

When the world went back to normal and schools opened up again, it was surprising how many families decided have their children continue to stay home for their schooling. According to the US Census, nearly 93% of children were educated with some form of virtual schooling during 2019-2020. But many of these same families decided to keep homeschooling even after the school doors opened again. From the Dept. of Education, approx. 3.3% of families with children homeschooled in 2016, while that number was 5.22% in 2021.

Maureen Wittmann and Walter Crawford, co-directors and founders of Homeschool Connections, know this to be true. Homeschool Connections has been a premier provider of on-line classes for homeschooling families since 2008. With over 450 courses offered, both recorded and live, they have seen an increase of 30% in families who have come to rely on Homeschool Connections to help teach their children in the past few years.

While the majority of adults in the USA attended either public or private school in the traditional sense of the word. There were some form of public schooling as far back as ancient Egypt and it arrived in the United States in early 1900’s. The Catholic Church took the lead on providing public, Catholic education under the leadership of the Jesuits in my own home state of Maryland in the 1800’s. The first and oldest school for Black Catholic school was opened in Baltimore in 1828. The parochial school system was built parish by parish with the Catholic Education Assoc. started in 1904. But, homeschooling has always been there as schools were not available everywhere or every parents’ choice. And, within public education as far back as the public forums of Socrates and Plato, families typically supplemented their child’s education at home with either tutors or from the parents themselves.

Within our Catholic church we have Sts. Bede, Ursula, Francis de Sales, Elizabeth Ann Seton even the great doctor himself, St. Thomas Aquinas and others who were taught at home. Throughout time, parents have taken a hands-on approach towards the education of their children with the Church recognizing this as a necessity.

GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS, Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Christian Education, promulgated by Pope Paul VI and signed on Oct. 28, 1965, tells us parents are “bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.”

For many parents, for many reasons, this obligation is fulfilled by placing their children in a public or private school that meets their needs and requisites but for just as many others the education of their children will take place at the kitchen table or at desks in the basement.

And just like the parents from ancient Rome to now, parents want quality help in making decisions about what school will look like for their children. This brings us back to Homeschool Connections. As homeschoolers themselves, Maureen and Walter know that while the ‘why’ a family homeschools may have been easy to come to, the how to homeschool has a steeper learning curve. Their upcoming Catholic Homeschool Virtual Conference, scheduled June 9 and 10, 2023 was developed for these new homeschoolers and veterans as well.

Traveling for a conference is not always family-friendly or cost effective while the recent development of quality, virtual conferences have become more common. Without ever leaving home you can hear great talks from speakers such as Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak and Fr. Joseph Gill. Exhibitors are present via virtual booths where attendees can talk to college admission counselors, find discounts on educational materials and much more.  There will be both live and recorded talks, parent meet-ups, and much more. Registration is now open for this event, www.catholichomeschoolconference.com.

While our children might not have enjoyed learning from a virtual format they were forced into just a few years ago, you might find it exactly what you need to help you decide if homeschooling is right for your family or strengthen the journey you have already been traveling.

As GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS also says, “Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs.”

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

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