Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Before You Open Your Boxes


John Clark has two thoughts for you before, or even after, you open your boxes of homeschooling books. They might just change the way you start your day.

A friend of mine once said that there are two basic ways to start your day.

First, you could take a look out your window, see the sun shining, hear the birds chirping, smell the fresh spring air coming into your bedroom, think of all the promise the coming day held, and thankfully exclaim: “Oh Great! It’s morning!” Second, you could get angry at the sun for waking you up, wonder why the birds had to chirp so darn loud, think of all the unpleasant tasks that lie ahead, and sarcastically mutter: “Oh. Great. It’s morning.”

As book boxes arrive at the door of veteran homeschooling families, I’d guess that these are the two optional responses as well.

Homeschooling is a noble cause; it is one of the greatest signs of hope in the Catholic Church; it is a wonderful way to bring families together; it routinely outperforms its educational alternatives. But it can be very tough, especially if you’re not receiving enough encouragement. And you might be less than thrilled to see the book boxes arrive on your porch.

So, before you open your boxes, let me share a thought or two.

First, look back on the good you’ve already done as a homeschool parent. I sometimes think that the most powerful weapon in the devil’s arsenal is to tempt good men and women to think their lives are lacking importance or accomplishment. He’s hellaciously wrong.

At minimum, you’ve illustrated the importance of faith and family to your children, which is to say that you’ve made the world better. Find a quiet place and spend fifteen minutes thinking about what your homeschooling has already accomplished for your family—and for the world.

Second, think about the good you are called to do in the upcoming school year. This is essential to the whole process. God is calling you to do good. I know that sometimes you can lose sight of the good.

You can become afraid that you’re already not doing everything right. Maybe you’re afraid you’re not doing anything right.

I understand. I really do.

In the homeschooling life, sometimes we can feel like we’re stuck in place. You might have thought homeschooling would have signposts for each achievement, yet you haven’t seen any signs for quite a while.

In short, you feel like you’re failing.

If you feel like that, please consider these words attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila:

     “Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;

      Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;

      Yours are the hands with which He is to bless men now.”

Christ is present—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity—in the Eucharist. And He desires us, nourished by the Eucharist, to represent Him and His love to the world, but first to our own families. God chose you—over all the other people in the world—to represent Him to your children.

And God doesn’t make mistakes.

Before time began, God chose you to communicate His love to your children. God made your hands to hold them, your feet to walk with them, and your eyes to comfort them. And he gave you something else: the heart and mind and grace to teach them.

“But I can’t do it perfectly,” you respond. Let me just say, the first time I homeschool perfectly—in fact, the first time I do anything perfectly—I promise to write a blog about it. But I hope you have a long time to wait.

If you read all the hundred of blogs and columns I’ve written about homeschooling over the years, I truly hope you see some common threads in my life: imperfections, blunders, foibles, goofs, gaffes, failures, mistakes…and love. But I believe with all my heart that love cancels out the rest.

As you think about the year to come, remember the charity that God has called you to perform. And never worry.

As Saint Teresa of Avila wrote, “It is not good for us to be disturbed by our thoughts or to worry about them in the slightest…, let us have patience and bear everything for the love of God.”

Now, open your boxes.

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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