Catholic Candle note: This is the Third Part in a series on EDUCATING YOUR CHILDREN during the crisis in the Church. There can be no more important concern for traditional Catholic parents today than how to best educate their children since it is so intrinsically connected to helping them save their precious souls.
Part I: Reflects on how one traditional Catholic family approached the gargantuan responsibility of this formidable task. Part I can be found here:
Part II: Investigates what choices were available to the next generation of our family, and how they met the challenge. Part II can be found here:
Part III (this present article): Examines what is involved in Home Schooling.
Part IV: Looks at some of the Benefits of educating your children at home.
Years ago, we heard the principal of a good school give a fine talk on educating your children. He titled it “Education – It Happens Only Once.” If nobody remembered anything of what he said except the title, it’d have been worth the time they spent listening to him because it said it all in a nutshell: We only have one opportunity to see that our children receive a good (traditional Catholic) education , the inference being that we’d better do it right the first time because we won’t get a second chance.
By default, the job falls now to Home Schools. Therefore, it is more than appropriate to ask the following question:
What Does It Take to Home School?
Let’s examine the idea of home-schooling. You’ve probably thought of some of the reasons why people do it, and you maybe even have considered how they do it. But now you might be wondering What does it really take to home school?
The quick answer is:
A. You must be convinced it’s necessary.
B. You must be willing to make the Commitment (with a capital C).
C. You must have perseverance.
D. You must have confidence in God.
E. You must have discipline in your home.
F. You must have patience, patience, and more patience. (Okay, so all of us run short of that sometimes, but let’s talk about that later.)
A. Convinced it’s necessary
This is arguably the easiest item on the list. The easiest to come by. Any traditional Catholic parent who has half an eye open as to what’s going on in the schools today ought to find this an easy decision to make. Easy to make, but admittedly not so easy to carry out.
It’s one thing to attend a home-school conference and be suffused with a rosy feeling of enthusiasm for beginning the grand adventure of teaching your own children. It’s quite another to commit to seeing the job through to the end.
As was said in Part II, it’s probably a mercy that you don’t know at the beginning just how long the “long haul” is. But it’s important not to view it as you’ll-put-up-with-it-as-long-as-you-can. View it as a special calling, which it is. The good Lord is making you a partner in educating your children and preparing them to survive in a world that seeks to tear them away from their Faith and compromise any vestige of principles.
A Home School mom I know put it this way: You must be a Home School family, not just a family that home schools.
Deciding to educate your children at home is not a frivolous choice made lightly. You cannot do it grudgingly or resenting that other parents send their children off to school and have the whole day to themselves. Every day. You’re in it for the whole 9 yards because you’re building an exceptional team and that team needs you. You must approach it joyfully and with a generous heart.
D. Confidence in God
We know that God cannot be outdone in generosity. Whatever you do for Him is returned a hundredfold. By His design, parents are the prime educators of their offspring. Therefore, your efforts on behalf of your children, your willingness to put His plan before yours, and to instill in them a love for their Creator and a greater knowledge of their Faith will be generously rewarded.
Discipline in the home – in the past freewheeling decades of do-your-own-thing and the child’s-spirit-must-not-be-suppressed – the idea of actually expecting self-control from children has been all but abandoned. It was instead overshadowed by insisting that the child be “given” self-respect. Whether earned or not. This is one of the principal reasons for the destruction of the schools. In the (arguably) 70 years that discipline has been withering away under the cult of the child, obedience has sadly become a bitter joke in far too many families.
If your family (hopefully) cannot be included in this category, good for you. It will make your job less difficult.
If yours is one of the families that did not make discipline a priority, it’s not too late now. Harder, but possible. And there are helps to get you there. It is important to start with a family meeting, including all who have reached the age of reason, to explain very clearly exactly what your family goal is, and what is necessary to achieve it. (We discuss more about Family Meetings below.)
Another huge help is to “demote” your television and other electronic devices – or better yet, get rid of the TV. If your children are addicted to texting, Facebook, etc., it will be difficult to rein in their time-wasting habits. But there again, doable. It “just” takes patience, firmness, and being consistent.
Some of the fruits of this new family policy will be having more time to spend on developing new interests and more wholesome pastimes. With more hours to fill, the children will be forced to look to other diversions, such as sports, hobbies, music, photography, etc. Also, spending time with the family will slowly increase, which will foster a beneficial closeness. All in God’s good time. You are building a great team, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
You probably already say a family rosary together, morning and night, and this is a must. Saying the rosary on-the-way-somewhere is sometimes a necessity, but the family that gathers nightly (or daily) together in one place, on its knees, is accomplishing several things at once. Among them are showing the children the importance of prayer, and also nourishing a sense of family unity.
A word might be said here about the desirability of designating one room in your home as "the school room." This might not always be practical or feasible, but where possible, it is a help in setting up your Home School, and having the same room set aside exclusively for school work.
One of the greatest helps will be that Family Meeting (as mentioned above). Frequent sit-down meetings will be a great aid to building family unity and family harmony. They need not turn into dragged-out marathon encounters, dreaded by everyone. Hopefully run by the father, the chief “business” of the meetings is to make sure the children understand why the family has chosen this course of action (homeschooling). If they do, it will be much easier for them to accept your decision.
Also, these family meetings help parents to understand their children’s worries or concerns, which might easily be ameliorated if brought out into the light of day during a casual family discussion.
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is for your children to know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. It is solely for their benefit, in order to save their souls, safeguard their Faith, and not so incidentally to give them a superior education. And even if they can’t fully comprehend the reasons now, hopefully they will have enough confidence in you, their parents, to trust your judgment.
Easier said than practiced, right? A Home School mother I know confided in me that there were a few times when she was overwhelmed with the enormity of the task she was undertaking. To the point that occasionally, at the end of the day, when the family was asleep, she, exhausted, would sit at her kitchen table correcting papers, planning the next day’s schedule, and … crying. She questioned whether she had what it takes to do the job. To be sure, this didn’t happen often, but when it did, the saving grace was to re-focus her mind on why she was doing it:
➢ For the greater honor and glory of God,
➢ To fulfill God’s plan to help one’s children get to heaven,
➢ To give the children the essential tools they must have to survive in a pagan world.
In next month’s Catholic Candle, we will discuss The Benefits of Home Schooling, in Part IV.
Catholic Candle note: To assist parents in homeschooling, we call your attention to a new Traditional Catholic homeschool which is now accessible worldwide. Here is some information about this homeschool:
Angelic Doctor Academy
We would like to introduce Angelic Doctor Academy, a Traditional Catholic homeschool for grades 9 – 12 (lower grades coming soon). We think careful Catholics will appreciate our solid Traditional Catholic high school curriculum, which contains many new textbooks written across the subjects because we have had enough of problematic books. But even more, busy Catholic parents – especially mothers! – will appreciate our unique grading system which corrects everything – even the daily / weekly coursework – for the parents, so they can concentrate on teaching, explaining, and keeping order. Please visit https://www.ada.school to learn more.
Yours in St. Thomas,
The Angelic Doctor Academy Staff