There are countless legitimate questions floating around the Catholic circle concerning education.
Should I pursue Montessori methods or focus on textbooks with my children?
Do I give them early music lessons, or attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?
As a young mother, I often find myself feeling intimidated and overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available for my children’s future, and hesitate even to think about the questions until the moment comes.
However, I would like to be prepared as I enter the world of homeschooling. The key is not to confuse or overwhelm myself.
1. Our Daily Attitude
As I talk to other homeschooling mothers to gather advice about how to handle the stress of the many choices, and the constant demands of being both mother and educator, a similar point continues to arise: “success” as a wife, mother and educator depends not so much on our plan of attack, but on the attitude with which we approach each day.
A fundamental principle of home education is that children learn best “in relationship.” Thus, our attitude as mothers interacting daily with our children is what most forms their characters in the long run.
When we are gentle, patient and understanding, our children feel safe and comfortable, and are able to flourish academically and emotionally in this secure environment.
Keeping this in mind as I prepare myself mentally for the daunting and exciting task of educating my children in the home, there are a few focal points that occur to me.
They are often attitudes and acts of the will which God asks of us as mothers in everyday life with our children.
2. A Faithful Formation
First of all, God calls us to be faithful. This statement affects all areas of one’s life, not just homeschooling. When I think back to my childhood and young adult life, I realize that my achievements were based fundamentally on my efforts and hard work.
If I performed well in a ballet recital or softball game, it was the result of practice and enthusiasm put into the sport.
When I succeeded in college courses, or established deep friendships, it was likewise the result of time and effort put into something seen as a worthwhile good—we never pursue a thing unless we see it as good. When I translate this truth into my role as mother and educator, I must remind myself: do I see what I’m doing as important—even crucial—to my children’s formation?
Am I convinced of the good achieved through my efforts, and am I willing to exert daily perseverance in the area of my child’s academic and spiritual development?
Of course we are usually willing enough in our hearts, but we must work to remind ourselves daily of the significance of our mundane actions, and of the fruits our daily faithfulness bears in our family.
3. A Heroic Generosity
Secondly, God desires that we be generous. In all areas of our lives as Christians, we are called to heroic generosity and selflessness. This is nowhere more evident for me than in the life of a homeschool mother.
When I look at the daily habits and virtues of sisters or friends in the midst of raising large families, I see countless small acts of self denial and generosity lived out on a regular basis.
As mothers, we must be generous with our time, because it is not our own. We place our time at the service of our children, which, in reality, can be incredibly hard to do. If we surrender our time to our children with a generous spirit, God will reward us with unexpected blessings.
When my mother made the decision to begin homeschooling her growing family, I’m sure that she would have never imagined herself capable of handling the numerous repercussions and complications which would arise from such a choice.
Indeed, her life would never be the same, as it would become busier and more full than she could have ever thought possible. Yet her choice to embrace this path with generosity and selflessness has impacted all who have known her.
The desire of her children to homeschool their own families serves as evidence of our gratitude for the great good which she generously gave to us.
4. Patience and Peace
Finally, God asks us to be patient. I am sure that any homeschool mother reading this would agree with the reminder that a patient attitude is absolutely crucial for success in all areas of mothering.
After four years as a Kindergarten teacher, I began to understand the truth that patience was half the battle in education. My demands or plans for the classroom went nowhere if I did not approach the day with a patient and peaceful demeanor. My students easily picked up on my attitude of frustration, and responded in like manner.
Some children progressed more quickly than others, but each possessed unique talents which were best unearthed through patient attentiveness to their needs. When I look to the future and pray about my upcoming attempts to teach my children, I ask that God will give me a patient spirit to respond gently in the midst of setbacks and frustrations.
For what a beautiful job we are given as parents, having the opportunity to model for our children the ever merciful patience which God bestows upon us in our failures.
In conclusion, I urge all young mothers to seek advice from those veteran homeschoolers available to share their wisdom with us, and to pray for guidance each day about our individual choices and needs for our families.
The path of a homeschooling mother is no doubt one which requires great virtue and selflessness, but is also an incredibly beautiful vocation to those who are called to embrace it.
Do any of you veteran mothers have wisdom or inspiration to share?