SummaryThe Alger family discusses how they decided to homeschool back in 2003 when their two children, Haley and Joseph weren’t happy in their school.
By: Michelle Alger
“If you will only believe, every gift you ask for in your prayer will be granted.”
There were a lot of factors that went into our decision to homeschool back in 2003. We were a two-income family with two kids in Catholic school, Haley in kindergarten and Jacob in 3rd grade.
Six weeks into that school year, however, Haley was so unhappy that we decided to bring her home. Mike worked second shift so he was home to teach her the basics. We had every intention of sending her back for 1st grade, but that year, I became pregnant with Faith.
We spent a lot of time considering and praying in Eucharistic Adoration on making the leap to become a one-income, homeschooling family. We assessed our finances and realized that so much of my pay was going to private school tuition and extra activities such as horseback riding, movies, and dinner out.
That realization made it easier to decide to homeschool. We’ve found that, although some months can be tight, when we leave it to God, He always makes it work for us financially.
Ultimately, we made the decision to homeschool with the understanding that we could always stop if it didn’t work. It seems to have worked. We are still doing it.
A Day in the Life
I’d describe our typical day for you, but I’m sorry to say (well, maybe not too sorry), we don’t have one. We tend to go with the flow and be flexible according to everyone’s needs. However, if we were to have one, it might look like this:
I usually begin my day with a walk and say my prayers while Mike and Faith take care of the animals and pets. We then all meet up in the kitchen and have breakfast together. Breakfast tends to be our family meal because of Mike’s work schedule.
Then, everyone takes care of any morning chores they haven’t gotten to, and each child goes to their respective work areas and starts their schoolwork. Then a break for lunch and play time, and any school work that wasn’t already completed is done.
We typically pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 or the Rosary at 3:30, accompanied by the one shown on EWTN. By this time, Mike has gone off to work, and the kids and I continue with the usual family routine, i.e., outdoor play, chores, TV time, dinner time, dance classes, meeting up with friends, and art time.
So much has changed and happened since we began to homeschool that it’s hard to know where to begin.
We began when Jacob was entering the 4th grade. Today he is 17 and will be starting 12th grade. He has become a proficient writer and musician and has recently been using his talents as a pianist and guitarist to lead the folk group at church.
He chooses the music, teaches it to some parishioners, plays and leads them at one Mass each month, and is now discerning college choices and long-term life decisions. He just returned from a visit to a Christendom College summer camp.
Haley started her homeschooling in 1st grade. Now she is 14 this month and entering 9th grade. She has become an avid reader, photographer, and artist, and when she has spare time, you’ll find her knitting, crocheting, sewing, or playing with Faith. Haley regularly works as a mother’s helper for our neighbor and sings in the folk group at church with Jake.
I was pregnant with Faith when we began our discernment to homeschool our children. Faith is 8 now and begins 3rd grade this year. She loves to dance and takes classes at Sweet Briar College with their student-teacher program.
She made her First Penance and First Communion in May. She LOVES to shadow her dad around the yard and be outside in general. Reading has not come as easily to her as the other two kids, and we are working on that. I’m just thankful that I’ve been able to be a part of her getting over this hurdle and not leaving it to the county school system. It has also allowed me to improve my prayer time and patience.
It isn’t a secret that Seton’s curriculum requires a lot of writing, and I’ve seen how it has influenced Jake and Haley’s passion for writing and reading. Some kids do what needs to be done just to get through it, and others realize they love it. Jacob is one that just loves it.
For a time, he even wrote and edited a newsletter that we would send to family and friends every couple of months. It contained stories he had written about things that our family had done. I truly believe it’s only because of Seton’s curriculum that this love of writing was discovered.
Because of the free time during the day that my kids have, it could be easy to allow couch potatoes to foster. And trust me there are days (rainy or snowy ones) that we enjoy our TV or video game time.
However,we usually require a balance. Read an hour or do some kind of outdoor activity to earn that lazy down time.
Haley enjoys the simple path for most things, and reading is her easy street. By the time we started homeschooling, Jacob knew how to read; Haley I had to teach. Once she began, though, she took to it like a fish to water. Now, she devours books!!
Homeschooling has also helped us to grow as a family around Mike’s work schedule (3:00 pm-11:30 pm). If we weren’t homeschooling, he wouldn’t see the children very much. Now that he is used to seeing them and being a big part of their day, he wouldn’t give it up too easily.
When Jacob started high school and making friends with kids that go to the public high school, we actually looked at that option. We even went on a tour, met with a guidance counselor, and sent for transcripts from Seton.
When it came right down to it, though, Jacob was not willing to give up the freedom of spending his day the way he wanted. He wasn’t willing to be a slave to “the system” because “they” know what works best.
The Prayer Method
The easiest and most often used method in our home is prayer. If I could pass one lesson on to any family contemplating homeschooling or to a struggling family, it would most certainly be to pray every day and take each day one day at a time.
If the day seems overwhelming, then take it one minute at a time. If there is anything homeschooling has afforded me, it is that I now have an incredible prayer life, so I embrace the importance of prayer whole-heartedly.
It’s not always sunny in the homeschool! Remember you are doing this because it is better for your children. If one of your children is struggling, slow down, back up, take a new course.
That is the freedom of homeschooling.
Seton also has wonderful people that selflessly have helped us on more than a few occasions to keep our homeschooling on track.