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10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling

Recently, in a Catholic Homeschool group on Facebook, a mom commented about her doubts regarding homeschooling. My dear friend and blogger over at Totus Tuus Family, Allison, replied one of the sweetest and most perfect replies, she said,

“”If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it. I had MANY of those same doubts. I read lots of homeschool and Catholic homeschool books looking for those who had conquered the obstacles I perceived and that combined with prayer fortified me. Am I perfect at it? No, no one is…no education is perfect. Let God work on your fears, it sounds like He IS working on your heart.”

This got me thinking about my own homeschooling journey which is only four years young. How did I get here and what helped me stick with it? Then I wondered how many other moms out there on the fence about homeschooling and have not because of fear or lack of knowledge. Is this you?Have you ever thought about homeschooling your children? Ever wonder what it is all about? So you are considering homeschooling and wonder – what do I do next? Here is an easy 10 step approach to commence Catholic Homeschooling:

Step 1: Pray. Ask the Lord to help you and your husband discern if He is calling your family to the life changing decision to home educate. (note: praying about it might not ease that unsure feeling but it will help you realize if you even want to go to step two). You might want to go to Adoration, go to daily Mass, do a Novena as a family, and pray often until you clearly hear what the Lord wants of you.

Step 2: Why Homeschool? Make a list of the pros and cons of homeschooling your family. Ask yourself questions like: Why do I want to homeschool? Do you like the choices you have available in the public, private, or Catholic schools in your area? If public schooling is not an option, can you afford the other two options (Catholic schools have scholarships if you cannot afford it, please look into those). What do you want your children to accomplish through their education? How long will you homeschool? What grades do you want to homeschool? (some families homeschool K-12, others just K-8, others just high school). Also, talk to your children (if they are old enough) about homeschooling, they may have some questions that you would want to ease them with. Don’t shy away from taking children homeward bound from regular schooling environments.

Step 3: Philosophy Statement. Take the answers to step two and write a mission statement for your family. State the reasons why you are homeschooling and how you want to accomplish this. Home educating is more than a full time job; it is a life-altering decision. When the schooling gets tough, this mission statement (which I also suggest you print and place in the room you will be homeschooling) will help you recall why you took on this beautiful journey. This statement should be written by both you and your husband (even if you are the main educator), and will help you stay focused on the ultimate goals for your family. Here are some examples of Homeschooling Mission Statements.

What Mary Kay Clark says about this: “An important first step is to write out a Statement of Philosophy, to make it clear to yourself, your spouse, and your children what you hope to accomplish. Why is a Home School necessary? What are your purposes? What are the values you intend to impart to your children? Your Statement of Philosophy should be in positive terms however, and not simply reflect your objections to something in the local schools. It is vital that you and your spouse agree on the Statement and, if you enroll in a Home Study School, their Statement of Philosophy should agree with yours. Your statement could prove vitally important as evidence to local authorities of your “religious convictions” and “sincerity of belief.””

 

Step 4: Research Laws. Find out what the laws and legislation say about homeschooling in your state are. Every state has different requirements from what the educator needs to have to what each child is required to do to what age you are legally bound to start. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a great source for finding these laws for home educating in your particular state. If your child has already been schooling, what do you need to do to register your school with the local district/state and unenroll him from his current school?

Step 5: Read. There are many wonderful books about homeschooling out there and particular to Catholic Homeschooling. The main ones that come to mind are these: Catholic Home Schooling: A Handbook for Parents by Mary Kay Clark (of Seton Homeschool), Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist (of Mother of Divine Grace), Homeward Bound: A Useful Guide to Catholic Home Schooling by Kimberly Hahn (yes, Scott Hahn’s lovely wife), Catholic Homeschool Companion by Maureen Whitman and Rachel Mackson, and A Haystack Full of Needles by Alice Gunther.

Step 6: Curriculum Approaches. You will need to decide which curriculum approach you want to take with your family. This depends on many factors including, but not limited to: the size of your family, the ages of your children, and what your budget is (but please don’t let money stop you!), your child(ren)’s style of learning, and your teaching style. Ask yourself, do you want to enroll your child(ren) in a program or do you want to keep grades and records on your own? Do you want to write your own lesson plans or do you want to buy them already done? Also, refer back to your mission statement to make decisions on curriculum approaches. Are you going all Catholic books, some Catholic books, all secular? You might want to also order catalogs from the different Catholic homeschooling providers to get an idea of what they are all about, what books they provide, etc. You can join Catholic Book Swap on Facebook or CathSwap on Yahoo Groups to ask questions about books and curriculum as well.

Step 7: Set Measurable Goals. Make sure you go child by child and set goals for each child. These goals should include the common core subjects in addition to extracurricular goals. Also consider the abilities of your child(ren) when setting these goals. Ask yourself: What do you want your child to learn and how will you track their progress? What are the state’s or district requirements of each child at their grade level? Make sure you divide the list into short-term and long-term goals. Please note that these are to guide you and not suppress you; they will help pave the road to a successful homeschooling experience. They may change in time but at the heart of it they should also mimic your school’s Mission Statement. Your goals should include: Cognitive Goals, Spiritual Goals, Social Goals, and Physical Goals. Goals should be written, challenging, measurable and specific, tied to a deadline (per quarter or semester), and not to conflict with each other. Having goals helps keep the children and teacher focused, motivated, and on track. Reaching goals will give you a sense of accomplishment. Not reaching goals gives you specific insight on what subjects need more attention and review.

Step 8: Homeschool Conferences. If you can, attend a local homeschool conference. Local conferences are a great way to connect with others in your area that are also contemplating or those that are “experts” at this. Also, a great way to learn more about what home educating is really about (vs. what society thinks). Going to a conference? Use my Conference Survival Kit found on my personal blog. I find homeschool conferences revitalizing! The speakers are often experts in the field of homeschooling. If you can make it out to the Immaculate Heart of Mary National Conference sponsored by Seton Homeschool out in D.C., please do! Last year was the first year I attended. I got to meet many of the wonderful women that have taught me so much in the past years about homeschooling via their blogs or online. I also got to spend time learning more about our beautiful Catholic Faith and even to go to Confession, it’s like a mini-retreat of sorts! Plus, you get to go out to lunch and dinner with like-minded friends! Watch their video.

Step 9: Local Support Groups. Look for a local associations that will support your mission and curriculum style. You can learn so much from local homeschoolers! Look for Catholic groups in your area that will help you keep a familiar and similar vision for your school. Some of these groups have email lists on Yahoo Groups, you can start asking questions there. Some groups require you join their group before inviting you to their Yahoo mail list. Catholic Homeschool Support has a great search engine to find a support group in your area. If your group has a Co-Op, consider contacted them and asking if you can visit for a couple of hours or a day so you can see what they do. Co-Ops can be a great way to have encouragement the first years homeschooling. Sometimes local groups are not available, thanks to technology, we have online support groups available. On Facebook there is a Catholic Homeschool Moms group you can ask to join. In that group of over 600 moms, you can post questions and ask for advise whenever needed. Some of the Yahoo Groups are also online only such as Catholic Homeschooling. Find those available to you. You can also search Catholic Homeschooling Blogs for suggestions and advice. Just be careful not to overwhelm yourself with looking at ALL that others are doing!!!

Step 10: Get Organized. If you read through my list, you noticed I kept saying homeschooling is a life-altering journey; well it is. Homeschooling is not a schooling choice alone. Many people have used A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot to organize their homes and make the children managers of their homes along with mom. Personally, I love Laura Dominick’s book A Plan for Joy in the Home. Both books take you step by step on how to create a schedule for chores and schooling. You will love it!

Now, It is my hopes that after 15 years in the classroom and four years homeschooling, this little list will help others who are contemplating home educating their children. Will this be an easy task, you ask? NO. Anything good and fulfilling is not easy in life. Is it possible to homeschool? Absolutely, do not fear! My very wise friend, Nola, puts it best:

“Personally, I think anyone can make it [homeschooling] work. We are our children’s best teachers. No one starts out thinking it will be easy, or they’ll be “good” at it. It comes down to priorities and goals. And experience. I think if a parent thinks homeschooling is superior to away school then the only thing standing in their way is fear. Fear can be overcome!…The only thing you need is prayer. I struggle all the time with whether I should be doing this (and she’s only 6!!!). But those fears and doubts are not from God. No more than the fears and doubts in marriage, in parenting, in anything that is good. Pray for clarity and peace. He is always there for us.”

 

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DID YOU LIKE THIS POST? MORE TO COME:

On a side note, some of the contributors of Catholic Sistas are already homeschooling and often we give each other support in this area of our lives. We have now created a team that will be presenting different topics on Catholic Home Educating. In our first series on Catholic Homeschooling we will cover different topics regarding this complex yet fulfilling decision for your family. Join us in this journey of Catholic Homeschooling 101 where we will cover the following tips, tricks, and ideas! I’ll be talking about:

  • About Goals
  • About Learning
  • About Life
  • About Growing Up
  • About Fun
  • About Sleep
  • About Letting Go
  • About Love
  • About Procrastination
  • About Time Management
  • About Work
  • and more…

About RaisingSaints

RaisingSaints is a group of Catholic Mothers throughout the United States that chose to bring their children home to educate them. "Catholic homeschooling is the planned and organized teaching and training of children at home, for their peaceful and effective life in this world, and for their eternal salvation in the world to come." ~Father John Hardon

  • Jen - This is a wonderful list and will be helpful to so many when discerning the homeschool call! I look forward to the rest of the posts in your series.February 16, 2013 – 3:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison - Thank you so much for the quote!

    This is an excellent and helpful list. Nice job.February 16, 2013 – 3:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Why Lent is 40 Days - […] Jas. Liske, Ascending Mt. Carmel Meet The Brothers in Black – T. J. Burdick, Ignitum Today Ten Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling – Catholic Sistas Why Lent is Forty Days? – Marcellino D’Ambrosio PhD, Intgrtd […]February 17, 2013 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

  • Lynn B - What a great and thorough post that covers a little bit of everything! I would like to add that, for those of us who are not so organized or schedule-oriented: we can still homeschool successfully in a less structured way. A good book for me was “A Little Way of Homeschooling” by Catholic author Suzie Andres. I think there is currently a plethora of wonderful resources for Catholic homeschooling and it can be overwhelming to make all your decisions now. It’s perfectly fine to take a “less is more” approach for a while, get to know your kids’ learning styles, and make changes down the road as you learn. There’s a lot to be said for easing out of the intensity of traditional schooling and activities, and tailoring to fit the family. Long-term homeschooling success is more likely if discouragement and burnout are prevented before they get started, too.

    Looking forward to seeing more of these posts. They will be such a blessing to families, I feel sure!February 17, 2013 – 12:11 amReplyCancel

  • Erika D. - Lynne B.: Thank you for that reminder, I have not read that book but heard wonderful things about it! 🙂 Thanks for your comment!February 17, 2013 – 6:44 pmReplyCancel

  • James - Imagine what would happen if all the resources Catholics poured into homeschooling were used to educate ALL the children of the parish?

    Whatever happened to the great parochial school systems?February 19, 2013 – 9:07 amReplyCancel

  • Allison - James – I was in the parochial school system prior to homeschooling and so saddened by the books they used. Secular. When I received my first box of Catholic Homeschool books I saw what a missed opportunity the Catholic schools had fallen in to when they started accepting government monies. Our faith IS SUPPOSED to inform us in every part of life and not be compartmentalized into one course or one hour on Sunday. The Catholic faith is rich in history! I realized that I will be held accountable for how I instruct my children and I wanted more for them. I believe all parents want what is best for their children and Catholic homeschooling is best for my family. Like you, I want to see more Catholic knowledge in Catholic life.

    Also, the focus on religion was very light and sidelined if something else was scheduled that day. To attract more students at high tuition rates the focus on standardized testing scores was more of interest. Perhaps there are schools that do better…

    Author Steven Kellmeyer talks about it in his book, Designed to Fail. http://www.amazon.com/Designed-Fail-Catholic-Education-America/dp/0976736802February 19, 2013 – 9:30 amReplyCancel

  • Colleen - Great information!

    @James – I can tell you from personal experience that many currently homeschooling families did try to put all their resources in the Catholic schools, and were simply not getting a solid Catholic education. I am a product of 10 years of Catholic schooling. One of the 3 schools I attended (we moved twice) was excellent, while the other two were… mediocre is a generous term. My parents not only paid tuition, but generously volunteered and our family was very active in the parish. And yet, in 7th grade, we were lucky to get religion class once a week. It was squeezed into an afternoon time slot and only happened *if* English didn’t run too long. (We had math, social studies, science, etc, every day, of course. We often had PE and music class more times a week than religion – and we were considered a “sacrament prep” year.)

    I think what happened to the great parochial schools was a few things. The public schools in many areas became more and more unsafe or struggled to keep their accreditation because of low test scores, and many non-Catholics began sending their children to Catholic schools for a better, safer education. The Catholic schools graciously accepted the new students (and the tuition they paid), but then felt as though they needed to compromise their values/curriculum to appeal to the non-Catholic students. So things got watered down.

    Also, in the past, most schools were run by orders of nuns, and the lay teachers were fewer in number. This meant the schools could run more cheaply since there were less teachers who needed to be paid a living wage. Since there are NO nuns in the majority of Catholic schools these days, tuition prices have increased, which have also made Catholics schools “more elite”, affordable only for the wealthier families, and have become more competitive. In many areas, they are more of a status/wealth symbol than a sign of a family’s religious values.

    I have friends who have taught in Catholic schools. A friend who taught theology at a reputable Catholic high school in my diocese was told he could not give the students information about Theology of the Body or NFP (too controversial?). He was asked not to discuss the virtue of modesty in the classroom, not even in a general way. In some areas, there are people on fire for the Faith and who are teaching and preaching in line with the Magisterium. Unfortunately, in many places, this is simply not happening.

    It sounds like a great approach to keep your children in a school and work to improve it – unfortunately for many, the problems too often are not fixable by a few families alone, and it’s not worth our children to risk their souls in the process.February 19, 2013 – 1:45 pmReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - As a Catholic woman who has attended Catholic schools, sent her children to Catholic schools, and homeschooled – I can tell you that there is much variety in quality as far as our parochial schools are concerned. Back in the days when religious sisters still taught, a Catholic education was priceless – but as our schools have become more and more secular, this is often times not the case. As others have mentioned, even parents who volunteer and spend a great deal of time being involved simply cannot be the solution to a poorly catechized staff and ‘progressive’ ideas. The parents, like myself, who eventually come to the conclusion to homeschool have oftentimes given great effort before this decision is arrived upon. Without the cooperation of teachers and principles who are unwilling to create an orthodox Catholic environment there is simply not enough that can be done by parents alone.

    It’s also very possible and doable to very frugally homeschool. From my own experience, I can tell you that our family spent much less on our homeschool curriculum (from an accredited school) than we did on tuition. This included field trips to see the relics of saints, daily Mass, and various plays and musicals. The price, however was not the issue for us. Even though we saved money homeschooling, we made the commitment for the saving of our children’s souls. Their thorough knowledge of their Catholic faith far outweighed economic considerations.February 19, 2013 – 2:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika D. - @James, thank you for your comment. It is a legitimate question/statement. I can assure you that I, personally, went that route. My eldest was Catholic Schooled (the best one in Miami) up until the 3rd grade. At which point, I quite my really good position with the County Public Schools to teach at a local Catholic School. I took a HUGE pay cut but I wanted to be in the same school as my son as his education was suffering in this “great Catholic school” (read REALLY EXPENSIVE, $10K a year expensive). I went to teach at a school that was half the tuition (and I also received a generous 50% tuition break which is how financially we were able to decrease my income in an expensive big city). He remained in that school with me for two years.

    I saw with my own two eyes exactly what Allison, Colleen, and Birgit described above. Schools purchasing secular books (because of money from the government), religion teachers that taught erroneous information about the Faith, non-Catholic teachers, and a hit or miss on education (one year great another not so good). It is a sad thing for Catholic education in America! So, with a clear conscience I can tell you that I gave Catholic Schooling more than a try!

    I taught in the Middle School for four years at this said school and when it came time for my son to move into that phase of his life, we knew it was time for us to pack it up and come home. It was the hardest decision of my life but the most rewarding I have ever made. Do I think everyone SHOULD homeschool, well I say this, if you can afford to (and most people can if they really try), I say at the very least, give it a try!

    On a side note, I am certain there are some really good Catholic Schools out there and I know some really great teachers in those schools. So before you judge us for our decision to homeschool, please look into the situations around the US regarding Catholic Schools. I always say, if I could find a school to bring my children to, where I can also teach and feel like they are getting a rock solid Catholic education, count me in. Until then, it is my duty to make sure they get one here with me at home. God bless you!February 19, 2013 – 2:38 pmReplyCancel

  • James - Thank you all for your comments.

    The frustration I have is that (1) not all parents are able to homeschool and (2) not all parents are able to homeschool well.

    When I was growing up, homeschooling was not an option. Yes, I got a watered down Catholic education, but I still got a better education than I would have in the public schools. (The nuns were the worst ones! The Director of Religious Education, Sister N, liked to pray “Our Mother, who art in heaven…”) It was still a Catholic culture, even if the religious component was lacking.

    I feel like the emphasis on Catholic homeschooling leaves children like I used to be out. This is more like “me ‘n’ Jesus” Protestantism than the Catholic Church I know. I understand why you chose to homeschool, but I don’t think that’s the best answer for the future of the Church.February 19, 2013 – 3:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison@totustuus - I hope you will read some quotes from the Church, James on why they do see it as the work of the Holy Spirit. http://www.totustuusfamily.blogspot.com/2011/06/papal-quotes-canons-and-links-on.html Papal Quotes, Canons and links on Catholic Education – the Church is very keen on parents educating their children and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony gives one the graces to succeed.February 19, 2013 – 4:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison - Another Allison here!

    “Homeschool well?” According to what standard? Some use very strict, traditional material; some unschool; some float between the two. Still an excellent education, if heaven for the family is the goal.

    I don’t send my kids to the local Catholic school for 3 reasons: (1)MONEY. Without nuns, it’s for a certain economic strata. (2)Unless every single teacher and every single book is faithful to the Magisterium then I’m not interested. You never know which adult or book will “speak” to a child and I’m not taking any chances with my kids bonding with that nice, Baptist math teacher or that anti-Catholic chapter on the Middle Ages. (3)We love schooling at home! We love going off in directions we like, literally and academically!

    I must add here that this is our 14th year; our eldest finished a high school course of study, took the SATs (yes, without prep) and scored well enough for free tuition for any of our state colleges (He attends and works part time). The “loosey-goosey” approach has worked for us, as my next oldest wants to be a nurse and so chose his courses accordingly. I don’t expect all my kids to be so academic, though; I’ll help each of them to find their place.

    Not sure what “not the best answer for the future of the church” means. This time of Lent has all of my kids preparing the house, working on their personal and family penances, looking for meatless recipes, arguing during morning prayers about exactly when the 6year old commits mortal sin by lying (sadly, homeschool doesn’t fix this kind of stuff!). The future of the church is here. They’ll grow up with a real understanding of living our Holy Faith.

    This is a wonderful post; I look forward to more, and thanks to Lynn for mentioning the unschooling approach!February 19, 2013 – 5:10 pmReplyCancel

  • James - Allison #1:

    1. The United States’ Bishops response to the Holy Father’s warnings about the public school was to build the Parochial education system. The plenary council of Baltimore in 1884 mandated that every parish have a school.

    http://www.bostoncatholic.org/About-The-Archdiocese/Content.aspx?id=540

    Allison #2:

    What happens to the children of single parents? Of widows and widowers? How do they get a Catholic education?

    You say that Catholic school is for those of a “certain economic strata”. But many who go to Catholic school do receive financial aid. This was even more true in the past than now.

    Homeschooling is for a certain economic strata as well. Both parents must be in the home and one of them cannot work.

    This focusing on Catholic homeschooling or nothing (BTW, there were problems with Catholic education and bad catechesis even in the “good old days”, just different problems and different errors.)

    The “solution” of Catholic homeschooling would have left the younger me out in the cold.February 19, 2013 – 5:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison - Allison #2 again (my little boys would have a field day with that moniker…)

    Uh oh.

    I didn’t mean catholic homeschooling or nothing, just defending HSing from your accusal. I do think it’s the best thing for the future of the Church and I wrote as an encouragement for those who are reading this and are interested.

    You’re totally right; I wasn’t thinking about single parents at all.

    And hearing “Our Mother who art in heaven” is not OK. It is not a Catholic culture but something sinister. I think that public school would be better than that because there, one expects such heresy and it’s less damaging to the fragile faith of little ones. And teenagers!

    And no financial aid, save a complete removal of tuition, would help us at all (if we were interested). One small salary. Seven kids. No complaints, though; we like it that way (most of the time!).

    You said that you’re frustrated. Understood, given the story you shared. We all have a story!

    This is a great article for those who want to (and are able to)learn about homeschooling. Period.February 19, 2013 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

  • James - Allison #2:

    I do apologize for being accusatory. I think some of my own frustrations are coming through.

    What I do know is that a once great Catholic education system is a shell of what it used to be. My mother and her sisters went to Catholic school for nominal tuition. Seven children? No problem. Now, it’s only for the affluent.

    What happened?

    Even with the abuses of the 1980s, “Our Mother” and all, Catholic school was MUCH better for me than public school.

    When even faithful Catholics give up on Catholic education, it breaks my heart.February 19, 2013 – 6:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - I guess one of the problems here might be misunderstanding. The original writer and all the rest of those who have commented have not said that all Catholic children must be homeschooled. I believe that each has just said this is an option.

    We don’t have to all put our children in Catholic schools for the Church to continue on. Where I live there are NO Catholic schools unless I want to drive at least an hour away. With 10 children, expecting an 11th, this is not an option, not even with all the financial aid in the world…. so, we choose to homeschool our children. That said, even if there was an option for Catholic school it doesn’t mean that all Catholics must/should send their children there. It means it that it is an option but not a requirement.

    We each have to decide what is best for our families. For me a watered down Catholic education would not be ideal for my children. I feel they would benefit not only now, but the Church in the future, by being taught the true Church teachings in our home where I know for sure that we are sticking true to the Magisterium. This isn’t to say that Catholic schools are not good for other families, just for mine, homeschooling is the right choice.February 19, 2013 – 6:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika D. - I am the original writter of this article and never did I say that ALL children should or need to be homeschooled.

    You say, “When even faithful Catholics give up on Catholic education, it breaks my heart.”

    I ask, what came first the chicken or the egg? In other words, did Catholic education give up on faithful Catholics first and turned their schools to quasi-Catholic or almost secular schools?

    Again, I, personally, gave Catholic Schools seven years of my son’s life, four years of my teaching career, and thousands of dollars. It was like swimming against the current! When the time came to make a decision about my domestic church, my husband and I had to do what was best for our family, so we “gave up on Catholic schools” and started one of our own.

    This idea that we are in someway “protestant” is at the very least ridiculous and at most ludicrous! Do you even know how many vocations are coming out of Catholic homeschooling families? Do you know what my Bishop just told our Church (which is composed of about 95% homeschooling families)? He said, “this is the future of the Catholic Church!” Our children are receiving a strong Catholic education in the Faith. Our children are altar boys, sing the choir, go to daily Mass, participate in youth groups, teach in CCD, and some go on to be teachers themselves.

    Church teaching tells us that we are primary educators of our children and are obligated, or better, called to the mission, of educating our children, most especially in faith and morals, but also in interpersonal relationships, social relations, etc. The call to educate is my primary mission as a parent, and so it is not out of place to look at homeschooling – far from it, in our present culture that is so secular and anti-Gospel.

    Oh and by the way, I know a bunch of single parents who also homeschool, they make it happen! I know one who is a nurse. She homeschools during the day, then her mother watches the children at night. So it is rare but possible!

    Again, no one ever said, “there should be an exodus from Catholic Schools!” actually, a lot of the families I know never even stepped into a Catholic school because they didn’t have the resources to pay for it (even with scholarships).

    PS: I teach CCD at my parish also.February 19, 2013 – 7:41 pmReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - James, what is apparent is that there is no one-size-fits-all educational solution. Our family made the decision to send our kids to Catholic school after public school became a problem (morally) for us. Our children’s educational journey was guided by a series of whispers from God and changes – public school, parochial school in another county, parochial school in the same county (we moved) and finally homeschool.

    When we first felt called to Catholic school, we lived in a neighboring county and had to drive 5 miles (each way) to the county line in order for our kids to catch the bus. We actually paid to use their county’s bus system. Then we had to drive into town in the afternoons for sports and academic extra curricular activities. Our van was a closet, pantry and campground. 😉 We had a cracker smearing toddler and two young teens to pacify while they each had their pursuits.

    I know homeschooling families in which both parents work (access to health insurance and financial considerations) and they still do fine. There are also families where homeschooling would not work because of work or even due to the temperament of parents or children. Some Catholic children do fine in a Catholic school of limited orthodoxy but some don’t. In my experience, many of the Catholic classmates of my own children (from parochial school) are no longer practicing. Others, however, are vibrant examples of what our future Church looks like. The homeschool kids seem to be inclined to grow up more Catholic in practice – but only if that was the permeating theme of their education.

    The bottom line is that educating kids is not for the faint of heart – no matter what your approach – and is something to be discerned by each family. We are, however, called by God to be their first and primary educators. This does not mean that all families must homeschool. It simply means we must listen to the call for our particular family and weigh it with the options open to us.February 19, 2013 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan M. - Wonderful discussion. It seems to me valid to enquire into the state of parochial schools, and also valid to care about whether they thrive or fall into decline. Much of this discussion has been taken up in the pages of First Things, see particularly, “Educational Pluralism” (2012) and also, “Homeschooling’s Liberalism” (also 2012, January). In the latter article Mr. Mills is of the opinion that “if mass production is bad in the creation of bread or cheese, it is much worse for the formation of vulnerable human beings.” Hear, hear. More involved bakers, more complex bread; point taken. Perhaps more significant is his overarching point that homeschooling fosters liberal thinking in the highest sense,by encouraging families to make active choices about the curricula and readings that shape young minds. We should not conclude that simply because (most) homeschooling fosters liberal thinking (if by that we mean the faculty of questioning the value and meaning of social norms that may or may not coincide with Church teaching, the Magisterium, or divinely revealed truths and the ability to critically appraise these social norms, institutions) that it is not possible to achieve the same end through the parochial system or the public school system; it may simply take more work on the part of the parents making that choice to achieve the desired result. The point remains though, that homeschooling is optional and allows parents to become self-determining in choosing what they would have for their children, whatever that might be. James’s comments seem to suggest that he regrets the decline of parochial schools, and at the same time would like to see the benefits of a liberal education (what we all like about Homeschool) extended to families who are *unable* to do homeschooling, via some other route that would prove less burdensome to them, i.e. parochial schools or alternative schools. So then the question arises whether or not Catholic schools could aid in bridging the gap between more structured educational forms and homeschool for families that desire this.February 20, 2013 – 2:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Erika D. - Excellent analysis, @Susan M., and very legitimate questions. While not every Catholic Homeschool practices the Liberal Arts approach, I am seeing a growing trend and numbers in this approach and tends to be the one that makes more parents yearn for this type of education for their children.

    In addition, I am not sure if people are aware but homeschoolers sometimes even participate in Co-operatives (co-ops) with other like minded homeschoolers and provide the liberal arts programs you are describing but in group settings, kinda like quasi-Catholic Schools to bring to their own children what the schools seem to be lacking. Where you find mother-teachers teaching the Trivium – Training in the skills of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric as well as the Quadrivium – The mathematical arts, astronomy and music. Music, art, and physical education is also another component in this kind of group setting for the home educators. Frequency of meetings depends in the group. Some meet only once a week, others meet daily. Co-ops, in my opinion, are the best of both worlds.

    The good news is that some Catholic Schools have picked up on this trend, have seen how well homeschooled children score on standardized exams, and their high rates of college attendance. Some have also started their own classical liberal arts programs. The first one that comes to mind is St. Theresa’s in TX, here is a video of what they do: http://sttheresacatholicschool.org/video-gallery/

    The other is Our Lady of Lourdes in Denver, CO who said they saw an incredible change and surge in their enrollment when they made the switch to a Catholic Liberal Arts Education approach.
    http://ololdenver.com/school/?page_id=92

    In addition, if you have contact with pastors, administrators, and decision makers at the Catholic school level, I challenge you to share with them information about the classical liberal arts approach to education. In addition, there is a group called the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education that will come out to the schools to train them in this incredible method of teaching. You can find more information about them here: http://www.catholicliberaleducation.org/about/about_main.htmFebruary 20, 2013 – 3:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan M. - Erika,

    thanks for following up with the excellent resources. I do think that the homeschool movement does have the potential to revive (or inject a new spirit of revival in the Year of Faith) into Catholic schools. I find your perspective exciting, and agree with you that coops offer a blend or a mediating institution between families and traditionally structured schools.

    let us persevere!February 21, 2013 – 11:07 amReplyCancel

  • Amy - For us, we definitely investigated our Parish school-but cost was prohibitive with 3 kids. So we came to homeschool. It has been a real journey and learning experience for us. We are constantly evaluating what is best for our children-for each child. As a result we are going to send one to preschool part time next year (a non Catholic school actually because they had a better and more affordable program than our parish. I will still do their religious ed at home (and they will probably attend our Parish religious ed as well). Honestly, I think there is way too much pressure and structure in early school grades and that has greatly influenced my decision to homeschool our kids while they are young. I do not know what the future holds. But for now it has been a wonderful blessing and a duty I take very seriously. I think Catholic Schools can be wonderful but the price, especially for High School, puts them out of reach for many families (even with financial aid).February 21, 2013 – 3:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Cristina - Hi, I am a mother of 5 ages 11 to 1. My husband is a teacher at a local Catholic High School and an assistant football coach and peer ministry head person (not sure what the title for that hat is). He makes less than $50,000 a year while wearing all those hats so that I may stay at home with our children and home school. It wasn’t always tight. We both used to work when we first got married. I used to make a very good salary and was on the way up in my career when we decided that I would stay home with the kids. We had one at the time. He worked in the family business and got a nice raise when he committed to it so that I could stay at home. We were in that economic place that some people imagine one must be at in order to home school. But our baby was so little, it did not matter yet. We lived in Miami, Fl at the time and in our eyes, there was no other option for a solid Catholic education than home schooling.

    Then 2007 happened. I don’t know how it went for you guys but for us, it was devastating. My husband lost his job to liquidation (his father passed away in 2005 and no one else in his family wanted to keep the business) after repeated attempts to purchase the business. We had savings so we took half of them out. The other half got taken away by some jerk who felt entitled to them. I still stayed at home, he went out and did what he could to find a new job. We worked our way through our savings. He worked his way through horrible jobs, but jobs nonetheless. We learned to make due with less, to find joy in simpler things, to let go of things.
    Three years later we found ourselves in South Carolina, in his mom’s house, while he looked for a job in a new state. By this time we had four kids total, and I was still staying at home, schooling them with inexpensive Catholic materials. Making due, taking advantage of huge sales of pencils and crayons and paper. Buying in bulk and on sale helped a lot.

    Home schooling through adversity taught our children so much about life and about their parents that I don’t believe they could have gotten a better education anywhere else but home. We now have our own home again and live within the limits of our new budget. Like I said, my husband is a teacher. The point I am trying to make is that home schooling is not just for the financially well off or the financially strapped. Home schooling is available to everyone, it can be as affordable or as expensive as you chose it to be. The same goes for the content of your academics. Home schooling is not just for the brilliant classical educators or the creative and imaginative fly by the seat of your pants educators. It affords everyone the freedom and the ability to tailor their school days to the individual needs of their children and the collective needs of the family. One cannot simply put home schoolers into one box and label it home schooling because the possibilities are truly endless. We are not bound by time or curricula.

    Most importantly, and this is something most home schooling families realize very quickly, home schooling is not just about the academics. It is so much more than that. It is a way of life that, if you let it, takes you out of the rat race. It allows you to actually live at home and share with your family all those moments that most modern families read about in books or see in AT&T commercials. See, there are no artificial environments (like classrooms where everyone is the same age and learning at the same pace)in home schooling. These children are immersed in real life scenarios every moment of their lives. They learn to focus through interruptions and distractions because life is full of interruptions and distractions. They learn to manage their time because they suffer immediate consequences when they mismanage it, the day does not wait for them to be ready and there is no bell telling them when to start and stop what they are doing (not counting the bells for the Angelus, the Divine Mercy, and the Angelus again). They learn responsibility and accountability because as they mature, they help run the house they live in and when they don’t do their part, they see the impact on the family and the home. They also learn incredible social skills because they have to learn to compromise, communicate and problem solve in order to complete a day’s worth of school and chores. And, if it is something the family is devout to, the children grow up immersed in their faith. They don’t just learn it out of books, they live it. The prayer times, the liturgical calendar, the decorations for the different seasons (yes we decorate for Lent), the colors, the smells, they are all at home. They don’t stay in the classroom.

    As for the moms and dads, it is hard, it is very hard. But, it is also the most rewarding work we will ever do. It is not about patience or knowledge. It is about love and trust in God. He fills in all the gaps you might leave behind. Home schooling does wonders for parenting and it is priceless for marriage. It changes our hearts, it makes them appreciative, self giving, CONTENT.

    God bless you all, especially you Erika, for putting yourself out there so eloquently and so diligently. Thank you my friend.February 21, 2013 – 8:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim - Funny that I should read these comments, especially those by James, and then have someone direct me to another article that says:
    “Remarkably, the survey found higher levels of alienation among young people who had attended Catholic schools. Among respondents who had attended a Church-related school, 65% said that Church teaching on sexuality is outdated and 61% said that Mass attendance could be a boring obligation. Both figures were higher than the results for the overall sample. ”

    So, those who have attended Catholic schools that are age 18-29 (the age of those surveyed) find the Church outdated when it comes to sexuality and Mass “boring”. No, thanks. We will stick with homeschooling and instilling a love of the Mass and the church. My children understand the reason for the Church’s teachings about sexuality and that it should be in the bonds of marriage. They may not all be thrilled to go to Mass, but they know that we go to worship God and show our love for Him. It is not to entertain us. Also, I have a son who is open to where God is leading him vocation wise. We go to Mass every week, attend Stations of the Cross as a family, go to CCD with my oldest who is Confirmed now assisting one of the other teachers. I love my faith and want it to be an everyday thing, not a Sunday thing.

    BTW, I am an adult convert. So, maybe my perspective on Catholic schools is not the same as those who went to them or grew up with the idea of them. They are just too expensive here to send all 4 of my kids, especially the high school which is $15,000 a year per student.February 22, 2013 – 8:33 amReplyCancel

  • Allison H. - Cristina, I love you!February 22, 2013 – 10:31 pmReplyCancel

  • James - @Kim:

    Most 18-29 year olds find the Church outdated when it comes to sexuality and find mass boring. That’s normal.

    While students in Catholic schools do have high levels of alienation, there are no shortage of children who were raised in homeschooling environments who also feel it. My wife was homeschooled and won’t go anywhere near her religious upbringing.

    She knows enough stories of homeschooling gone wrong that I would hesitate to recommend it to all but the most committed and most able.

    Yes, as an adult convert you don’t have the same perspective on Catholic schools as those of us who grew up with them. For one, you would know that there is a long history of Catholic schools being open to all Catholic families, regardless of ability to pay. Catholic schools can have a high sticker price, but parochial schools (run by the diocese) financial aid is often available. This is not the case for private Catholic schools, which are not affiliated with the diocese.February 23, 2013 – 12:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Goal Setting in Catholic Homeschooling - […] 10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling […]February 24, 2013 – 12:29 amReplyCancel

  • Julie Maria - Thanks, this help a lot! I will teach homeschool for my baby girl and here in Brazil is “crime”. So pray for me that I be strong in defend our catholic education IN HOME!

    God blessFebruary 24, 2013 – 1:28 amReplyCancel

  • Melissa s. - Hi there, I was homeschooled and attended catholic highschool so I have a surplus of textbooks and really beautiful religious ed books, some used, most new on my eBay if any of you guys are interested! http://myworld.ebay.com/mskopekMarch 26, 2013 – 12:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Learning Styles in the {Catholic} Homeschool - Catholic Sistas - […] 10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling […]April 6, 2013 – 9:27 amReplyCancel

  • genevieve gomez - I love, love, love this post! My son is only 3 but, I am considering homeschooling him. That way, I can insure he will get a good education infused with the catholic faith.July 23, 2013 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Jim Reyes - I was very interested to read your post.Thanks for sharing such informative posts.In my opinion online homeschooling is really useful for kids because they understands the students specific needs.August 26, 2014 – 6:48 amReplyCancel

  • Anne Gregor - My nieces and nephews has been homeschooling for seven years now and is using curriculum from AOP every year. It is so nice to know that AOP is there with so many great products to make mom’s
    life easier. This is their website: http://www.HomeschoolingOption.com

    AnneSeptember 8, 2014 – 5:47 amReplyCancel

  • tim - Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after looking at many of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!|September 16, 2014 – 10:14 pmReplyCancel

  • {pretty, happy, funny, real} Co-Sleeping Blankie!!, bellies and prayerfully pondering Homeschooling. | The Spicy Catholic - […] Where do I even start?- was my first thought when we heard the news that there was a parent meeting.  Luckily, that very night, as the Holy Spirit would have it, a lovely friend Dianna of The Kennedy Adventures – an Amazing family- homeschooling- Catholic resource blog- posted this wonderful article from Catholic Sistas on homeschooling:  […]September 20, 2014 – 11:28 amReplyCancel

  • Internet Research on Homeschooling | Viva.Domus.Schola - […] late 70s to 80s, but her situation was different than mine. I am glad for Catholic Sistas post on 10 Steps to start homeschooling. I am also glad for many support group information about Missouri homeschooling law, […]June 23, 2015 – 2:05 pmReplyCancel

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