A couple of months ago, Seton Magazine celebrated a ‘Back on Track‘ theme, offering much-needed encouragement and advice for when the oiled cogs of a new school year often sputter under the weight of, well, real life.
But perhaps some are still a little afraid that the sputtering of their schedules will only continue as we approach the holidays. (Having grown up in a Catholic homeschooling family of six, I know the chaos well!)
Yes, we all know that teaching the eight-year-old how to mash Thanksgiving potatoes counts as ‘home economics’, and instructing the three-year-old to use his fork on the turkey and not on his sibling counts as ethics formation . . . But still, as we sort out the hundred-and-one chaotic details of our impending holiday celebrations, some may fret that publicly-schooled children are accomplishing more than their own families . . . especially when the school plans for the day are derailed with children begging to make cardboard-tube Pilgrim crafts, or to simply go out and romp in the fading autumn weather.
This is precisely when hardworking homeschooling parents need to remind themselves of eight special gifts found in Catholic homeschooling. Holidays—even though they often require relaxed academics so we can frantically pull things together—are still a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what homeschooling has done and continues to do for our families.
In fact, consciously reminding ourselves (amidst the chaos) of what a blessing homeschooling has been for us, and reaffirming our conviction and gratitude for homeschooling, will infuse a little peace into our hearts and allow us to smile over a messy Advent craft, or the trail of crumbled autumn leaves on our living room carpet.
So, without further ado, here are the eight gifts of Catholic homeschooling (brilliantly arranged in acrostic format by the author ). *ahem*
- Grace: Sacredness in Catholic Homeschooling
- Respect: Living for Life
- Animation: Inspiring with Joy
- Truth: Safeguarding our Families
- Excellence: Learning to Grow in Awe
- Foundations: Vital for Faith
- Unity: A Family Team Effort
- Love: Pointing to the Presence
Editor’s note: The definition of an ‘acrostic’ is “a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.” See how the first letter of each point comes together to form the word ‘grateful.’
1. Grace: Sacredness in Catholic Homeschooling
“Grace is nothing else but a certain beginning of glory within us.” St. Thomas Aquinas
Homeschooling, above all, has afforded us the priceless opportunity to grow in God’s grace.
As a family, we are able to teach and learn in a sanctified environment: one that is oriented towards our destiny of Heaven. Truly, all other worries are so small in comparison to this great gain!
Despite the messes, despite our imperfections, homeschooling has allowed us to learn in our ecclesia domestica, to grow in a sacramental life, and has helped us to thrive in the love and mercy of God, and in the beauty and wonder of our Faith. What a blessing!
2. Respect: Living for Life
“Man’s life comes from God: it is his image and imprint, a sharing in his breath of life.” Pope St. John Paul II
Catholic homeschooling is a profound witness of the sanctity of human life—from the moment of conception until natural death.
Dwelling together as a loving family and being both humbly and responsibly open to life—not only to the creation of new life, but also to the constant care and formation of it, both in body and soul—serves as a sign to our present generation, and simultaneously raises up the next generation to revere and respect life. This is both a privilege and a gift.
3. Animation: Inspiring with Joy
“Everyone should see goodness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile.” Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
The sheer delight of living spills out in special, unique ways from children who are given the gift of being raised at home by both parents; who bond closely with their siblings; who experience their home as a refuge and their life as a miracle from God.
Of course, this doesn’t exclude the tantrums, the mood swings, and the free will that can and does choose wrongly. But nevertheless, homeschooling provides a special sanctuary for the joy of childhood, and gives each child the opportunity to grow, learn and mature at their own pace.
This resulting ‘animation’ of joy spreads. It cheers and inspires others to appreciate the beauty of life, whether they be family members or strangers at the grocery store!
4. Truth: Safeguarding our Families
“Christ said, ‘I am the Truth’; he did not say ‘I am the custom.’” St. Toribio
As homeschooling families, we have both the freedom and the duty to learn and live the truth of Christ.
Homeschooling provides us the precious ability to safeguard our families from the unholy customs, distortions and lies of the world.
Through homeschooling, we can rear the next generation in the truth of the Gospel, and prepare them to defend the principles of objective morality without being hindered nearly as much by the pressures of secularization.
5. Excellence: Learning to Grow in Awe
“Do as much as you can as well as you can.” St. Francis de Sales
Although there will always be seasons of chaos or unexpected difficulty in our homes, homeschooling still enables us to achieve excellence in learning, both academically and spiritually.
Learning in an intimate and encouraging environment, as well as studying from a curriculum tailored to suit individual needs and interests, helps children to excel in learning, and ultimately to grow in awe of the splendor of God, Who Is the source of all wisdom and knowledge.
6. Foundations: Vital for Faith
“Go forth without fear, for he who created you has made you holy, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother.” St. Clare of Assisi
This I have learned first-hand as a grateful homeschool graduate: homeschooling provides the vital foundations of faith and courage that graduates desperately need in order to go forth into their adult lives.
Living and learning in the home does not foster a fear of the world. Rather, it provides a foundation of rock, a daily reinforcement of the importance of truth and holiness, on which those who have been homeschooled can step forth into their vocations.
They will be equipped with the virtues they have learned, and armed with the simple beauty of family life which they have been privileged to be a part of.
They may stumble and make wrong choices . . . but this foundation will inevitably draw them back to grace.
7. Unity: A Family Team Effort
“All the wealth in the world cannot be compared with the happiness of living together happily united.” Blessed Margaret d’Youville
Homeschooling unifies our families inestimably in faith, convictions and love. Now, this unity is indeed a team effort, oftentimes a struggle, and yet it’s ultimately a joy and a grace as siblings learn to bond together, and children experience the constant guidance of their parents.
Time spent together is quality time, and quality time builds relationships. Homeschooling families who spend so much of their time together grow daily in the unity of Christ, and in relationships that will last.
8. Love: Pointing to the Presence
“Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” St. Therese of Lisieux
Lastly, homeschooling points to the presence of Divine love. The sacrifices homeschooling parents offer for the sake of their children both exemplify and beget the love that is so desperately needed by the world today.
The homeschooling life is not easy. It is not free of difficulty, weariness, or fear. But homeschooling is, above all, founded on the love of God—this love pours forth from the parents to their children, and the children learn to reciprocate it. A life of such love nourishes love of family and love of neighbor.
In its essence, homeschooling is a flourishing branch, a powerful tributary of humankind’s collective vocation to love. Homeschooling is both a gift and a beautiful choice.
So look out the window, laugh at the children ecstatically drowning in piles of leaves, or swinging their arms into snow angels; relax, rejoice, and be grateful!