Seton received a letter from a home schooling mother who reflected on her decision to home school. The following are highlights from her letter.
The reason I began to home school is not a single reason. I was disheartened at the level of education my eldest son was receiving in the public school. … We were staunch fighters against the so-called “family education,” which was nothing more than a cover and masthead for sex education! And, in our local parish, our son’s CCD education was quite the joke.
There were also issues when it came to First Communion. They did not want our son to receive either kneeling or on the tongue. This was an issue at the instigation of my son … When the nun confronted him, he simply stated, “But sister, that’s God! I can’t touch God with my hands! And I can’t stand in front of Him either!” Her response was to the effect that he would destroy the “procession.”
The Home School Solution
About this time, I happened to meet some home schooling families. They gave me all sorts of reasons to do it, and I had all sorts of reason not to! One of the biggest arguments to homeschool came from one. She said to me, “Oh sure, opt him out of all those family classes. What do you think they will talk to him about on the playground? Who is he playing with at recess?”
Then [the homeschooling friends] introduced me to Father M. His requirements for our son’s First Communion test were far beyond anything they had been attempting in his CCD classes.
When we decided to homeschool, we did so because we really wanted to prepare our son for battle in the world. Homeschooling became a spiritual and family issue, and the fact that they would be educated along the way became a bonus, not the central reason to homeschool.
Seton Saved Us!
So we approached homeschooling as a spiritual undertaking. We sent off to the best Catholic program we could find, Seton Home Study in Front Royal, Virginia. Wow! When we got that first packet, to say we were overwhelmed was an understatement. The educational materials were tough, but they were also infused with a Catholic flavor in every subject. Spelling and phonics, reading and writing, history and art – all were Catholic in basis. I loved that!
My son is not as time-organized as some … I realize that I was always adapting our school schedule around other things … the laundry, a clean house, Mass, a birthday, the opportunity for a park day, the dentist—and school came in second place. That was my first error! School should be our first priority.
Yes, [homeschooling] is to be a part of family life, but it should be the main focus of each and every day. Family life should center around homeschooling. And there should always be deadlines! Real life is filled with deadlines… bus schedules, project schedules, the starting time of a factory, airline schedules… life is about scheduling our time and using it wisely. I have failed in bringing that to my sons. And I plan to rectify that!
I made schooling too much fun. My sons love homeschooling and that is partly because I am still a kid at heart and I love to learn… teaching your children lets you learn over and over again…and for me it never gets dull. But I sort of skipped over some basics…I will not do that again.
It is important for their future… to be able to conjugate verbs; they need to know simple fractions and algebraic equations; and they need to know the truth when it comes to the history of this country. All these subjects are crucial to their successful future out in this world of ours. And I am afraid I made it so much fun, their formal understanding of some things was lacking.
Never Go Back
I would never change the fact that I am a homeschooling mother. I would never want to go back and put my sons in school. I would re-arrange how I approach it and what I am doing it for. Spiritual strengthening is the primary reason. I was given custody of these souls and God will hold me accountable in how I dealt with them. But He also expects that I am the first and primary educator of my children, and He expects me to carry that job out with as much vigor as I approach their spiritual education.
God has given me the graces to accomplish this through the Sacraments He has given me, namely Baptism, Confession, Communion, and Matrimony. The promises inherent in those Sacraments are mine for the asking—all I need to is pray for the grace to accomplish the tasks before me.
I am sharing this as a way to perhaps share with others the mistakes I have made. I struggle with the sin of sloth, and I think it has crept into my homeschooling. Lent has been a good time for showing me how deeply inherent in who we are, a sin can be.
Only through grace can we parents accomplish what Our Lord has set before us. Only through continually relying on Our Lord and through Our Blessed Mother can we truly teach our children and prepare them for the battles they face as adults.
Released for the first time online, this article originally appeared in the April 2001 Edition of the Seton Newsletter, Volume XVIII, 4
Header Image CC jasonelliotfinch