I am going to do my best to respond to a comment recently left on my blog by Leigh who poses a question on her blog to me and to other Catholic home educators.
Here is the comment:
I recently composed a post about being mystified about the decision to homeschool. It’s by no means an attack upon those who make that choice. Rather, it’s more of a request from those who do homeschool to educate me and others as to the merits of your choice.
If you are a reader, I would encourage you to go to Leigh’s blog and read the original post.
Your post is a weighted one with many questions. I have prayerfully considered how to answer you over the weekend. While it is not necessary for me to convince you or anyone else of the merits of Catholic homeschooling or to defend/explain our family decision to home educate, I am going to attempt to enunciate from my heart a few reasons for you to consider. If you want to see the merits and have an open mind, you will see them.
Homeschooling for this family, and I suspect in most others, began in earnest prayer. We did not set out as a goal to undermine or buck the local parochial schools. There are a variety of reasons we did not choose parochial schools for our children, some of which are quite personal. I have great respect for parish based schools, and in particular for those devoted teachers/sisters who seek to imbue their young charges with a great love for the Catholic faith. I will simply say that in our experience not all parish based schools offer an environment my husband and I find conducive to safeguarding our children’s souls, souls that we alone will answer for, souls that we are charged with protecting. We take that very seriously.
My husband and I prayerfully discerned what God wanted for us – for this family. Homeschooling has been an answer for us. It is not the answer for every family, and we do not judge or pretend to believe that it is. Holy Mother Church gives parents the right and responsibility to educate their children. God provides the graces necessary through the Sacrament of Marriage. We move from there.
You state that you perceive a downside to providing your own children’s education, in your own home, day in and day out. That is just what I love about home education. I love being with my children. I love being present and a part of all of their “aha” moments.
I can tell you that I am an expert in only one thing – my children! I know them. I know their strengths, talents, dreams and hopes. I know their weaknesses, areas they struggle with, moments they need a gentler hand. I know how they learn. I know that my son is going to struggle and fail if he is told that he must sit and be quiet for an indiscriminate amount of time. He needs time to explore, and a patient heart that is open to his needs. I love exploring with him. I love the gift of seeing life through his eyes. I know that my daughter has an extremely sensitive spirit, more sensitive than most. I know that this is often overlooked because she is also very mature for her age. Her sensitivity requires care when offering reading material or life experiences. She is a precious flower, and I will safe-guard that innocence because it is a God-given gift! I could go on. We do not homeschool in order to avoid the negative (though I admit that is a factor) we homeschool because we are so rewarded with the positive. I love strolling through the woods on a fall day observing with my children the beauty of God’s creation. There is nothing on this earth that would replace this treasure. I have not lost myself amidst perceived dull or monotonous days, nor am I lacking in the skills necessary to accomplish this task. Rather, I have found myself as we learn together and find new ways to bring beauty into our lives and home!
I do not judge you for your decision to place your children in parish based schools, because as you state you and your husband made that decision for your family. I ask you not to judge us, or any other homeschooling family for making the decision to provide a Catholic home education. If you are looking for examples of failure in the homeschooling community, you will find them. If you are looking for successes, there are many of those as well. We are not perfect. You and I are both raising our children for heaven. We both seek to raise saints. Is it presumptious for either of us to think that God has provided only one path?
I am certain that there are so many others that could answer your curiosities in a much more eloquent manner. I suggest to you the following for reading:
Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss
Catholic Education: Homeward Bound by Kimberly Hahn and Mary Hasson
Praying that you read this and receive it in the spirit of charity with which it was intended.