SummaryIn this Thanksgiving season, Teresa Collins shares many of the key reasons why the opportunity to homeschool our children is one of our greatest blessings.
After more than two months at sea, the Pilgrims sighted the New England coastline in November of 1620.
“Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the Lord of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth…” (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation).
A year after their landing, and after a successful harvest, the Pilgrims again gave thanks to God. We, too, have a great deal to be thankful for during this Thanksgiving season and always: for the gift of God Himself, for our Faith, our families and friends, our health and our many blessings, not the least of which is that we are able to homeschool our children.
Pope St. John Paul II, in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), said:
The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God’s creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively live a fully human life…. [T]he right and duty of parents is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others. (Familiaris Consortio, 36)
The word “educate” comes from the Latin “educere,” meaning to “lead forth,” and that is indeed what parents are called upon to do: to lead their children from childhood into maturity.
When parents homeschool their children they are taking on the responsibility of forming their children religiously, morally, intellectually, socially; of helping them to grow as complete human beings. This task can be daunting, but it is also very rewarding.
In today’s difficult, confusing, and often morally and intellectually dangerous world, it is more important than ever that we either homeschool our children or make sure that the education they are receiving is conducive to their salvation, since that is the final end of all human endeavor.
We can give thanks for the opportunity to homeschool, since it enables us to cooperate with God in promoting our children’s salvation.
When we homeschool our children, we know exactly what they are imbibing; since we ourselves choose their curriculum, we give them what is good and do not have to screen harmful or unsuitable material that someone else might be giving them. We do not have to wonder what is being taught, since we ourselves are teaching them the truth. This is indeed a blessing.
Another benefit of teaching our children at home is that we truly get to know our children and ourselves. With the close interaction that comes with educating, we discover our own strengths and weaknesses both of character and mind, and those of each child. We are then able to nourish those strengths and work on diminishing those weaknesses.
As those who have homeschooled know, an advantage of homeschooling is that it can be tailored to each child. Each child can have a “custom fit,” as it were.
If a particular child needs help in one area, he can get it; if someone is particularly quick in an area of study, he can move on to something else. In our own family, at one time or another, we used different textbooks for different children, included extra phonics and grammar, read different works of literature at different ages, and concentrated on subjects that required extra effort.
There are many more blessings that come with educating our children at home. Homeschooling enables family life to be less frantic; there is less running around, fewer time deadlines to meet, and consequently there is a calmer household.
Another blessing is the joy of sharing with our children what we ourselves enjoy, whether in poetry, literature, history, art, or whatever the subject may be. We also have the opportunity to fill up the gaps in our own education.
Teaching one’s children provides an opportunity for learning for the parents as well as the children. Growing up, parents may have acquired a skewed sense of history or have had a religion program in school which was incomplete or unorthodox. We can provide something better for our children and, in the process, acquire something better ourselves.
Homeschooling, since it is a shared endeavor and requires cooperation among all the members of the family, tends to unite that family. Each member of the family is working towards the same goal, and parents and children have a very strong stake in the outcome of this effort. The close bond between siblings and between parents and children that is the result of homeschooling is yet another gift for which we thank God.
As Thanksgiving approaches once again, we can pause to take stock of our lives, and be grateful for everything that God has given to us, including all these blessings and more that come with homeschooling.
We stop for a moment to remember why we homeschool, and realize anew that we do it because, all things considered, we deem it the best education our children can have.
And to educate means to give them a good beginning to their lives in this world, to start them on the right path, because we love them and want for them lives that will lead them to blessedness in eternity.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136).