The following article is based on Ginny Seuffert’s column ‘Answering Relatives’.
One of the difficulties we home schooling parents, and students, face is remarks by relatives who do not understand what we are doing by home schooling. Many relatives think home schooling is some sort of rejection of society, a sort of underground “Mother Earth” movement. Some relatives believe that our children will not be able to be successful in the modern society because our children will not be able to “deal” with other people in social situations. They wonder if our children will be able to get a job or support themselves.
As Ginny Seuffert pointed out in her article of December, 2004, society puts pressure on parents to “push the youngsters out the front door and onto the school bus at earlier and earlier ages.” The argument by most friends and relatives is to point out the social problems that these children will have by not being able to adjust to the classroom or by not adjusting to other children.
In recent weeks, we have seen some episodes on the news where students, even girls, are ganging together and beating up a single student. This is not new, but it is becoming more frequent, and more violent. Worse, the students doing the beatings videotape the beatings, and put it up on YouTube on the Internet. There is no recognition that they have done something wrong; in fact, they are proud of it.
If friends or relatives bring up the “won’t adjust” argument, they are simply not keeping aware of the serious social problems that are going on in the schools and other “social” events. Grandparents and others often judge the schools of today by what they remember from many years ago.
Probably more arguments against home schooling are about the “inability” of parents to teach their own children. The first thing to remember is that the Catholic Church has always recognized the ability and sacramental graces of parents to teach their own children, especially in the areas of the Faith, and living the Faith. Since the Church also has declared that all subjects should be taught in relation to the Faith, and should be integrated with the Faith, we home schooling parents have a strong argument for home schooling. Very few Catholic schools have any Catholic textbooks, while Seton has published Catholic home schooling textbooks in just about every subject area.
Secondly, if you are enrolled in Seton, we have lesson plans, online resources, and counselors available to answer questions and help with the teaching. In Ginny’s previous article, she wrote “That’s why I am enrolling Janie in an organized curriculum that was written for home schooling parents. The school is accredited, and teachers can be reached by phone or email for help anytime I might need it…I have lots of years to research how other home schooling families teach upper level [courses]. I know there is more help for students online now, and with our Seton program, counselors are available.”
When relatives continue to make unpleasant comments, consider having an “Open House” for the relatives to visit the home school “classroom” and see the work that the children are doing. You can make it a little “tea,” and give your children an opportunity to recite their poetry or read an essay, or show off their math and English papers. If your children are enrolled in a local music, art, or sports class, make a point of mentioning that.
Ginny suggested another idea. “Frequently, the best way to showcase the benefits of home schooling to those you love is by letting people interact with your family, especially with your intelligent, articulate, and courteous children. When people compliment me on my children, I never pass up the opportunity to credit Catholic home schooling for the way they are turning out. When neighbors say, ‘I don’t know how you do it!’ I always tell them what a joy it is to have the children with me during the day. When other moms indicate that they might be interested in home education, I tell them, ‘Do it! You will never be sorry.’”
Another argument that might come from relatives and friends is that a home schooling program cannot academically match what is being taught in the schools. You might point out that Seton gives standardized tests each year, and many home schooling families are giving these tests each year or every other year. Many states have regulations for frequent testing for students in schools and in home study. Students being home schooled consistently score in the 84th percentile, while public school children are at the 50th percentile.
Reassure your relatives that a parent who knows all the life experiences of her children, and understands the strengths and weaknesses of her children, can better teach her children than any teacher ever could. Teachers in the classroom have only one year of knowing a child, and even that is minimal with 20 or more children in the classroom. There can be no such thing as individualized instruction in a school classroom.
What makes home schooling so successful is that parents love their children and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in time and energy and perseverance to give them their Faith, the practice of their Faith, and the academics they need to be a good citizen. Ask your relatives who are questioning you to come and be a part of this exciting adventure with your children. They will never regret it, just as you will never regret it. They will learn a new dimension to Catholic family life.