SummaryWhy join a homeschool group? Veteran home educator, Karena Tapsak, shares how family life is enriched by participating in homeschool group activities.
Our family has been part of a wonderful Catholic homeschool group since we began homeschooling ten years ago.
This loose organization of families is not based on any set curriculum, classes, or learning style. In fact, it is not really academic and can’t be considered a co-op either. Rather, it is a group that gathers to celebrate and live out our Catholic faith.
I have learned a tremendous amount about the Catholic Faith and its traditions, and my children and I have made wonderful friends through this group. Here are examples of some of the ways that we “live the faith” in our homeschooling group and in our community:
1. All Saints Day
Every year on All Saints Day, the children are encouraged to dress as a saint and play “stump the sisters.”
It goes like this: we meet at a convent of retired sisters for a program in which the children are allowed to give clues to the sisters about their saints so they can guess who they are.
As the children get older, they try to choose the most obscure saint possible, in order to stump the sisters and their friends. However, the sisters are often so smart that it is tough to do so!
We finish with some refreshments and socializing with these special women of God.
2. Life Chain
As part of a national movement of silent prayer on behalf of the unborn, members of our homeschooling group pray at our main town square during this event.
It is a powerful way to stand for the unborn and speak for the most defenseless.
3. Christmas caroling
For our first meeting of Advent, we visited with elderly residents at a nearby nursing home, passed out holy cards, and sang Christmas carols with them. This has given the children a wonderful opportunity to share their faith and love with those who are often forgotten.
4. Christmas and summer variety shows
For the past two years, the organizers of our group have planned a variety show twice a year at a local convent, where the children sing, dance, and read poetry for the sisters. These variety shows are very popular events both with the sisters and the children. The children really enjoy sharing their talents with the sisters, who are equally thrilled to have us perform and visit with them.
5. 40 Days for Life
Twice a year, our homeschool group has participated in one of the many prayer vigils in front of a local abortion clinic. This powerful, moving activity is another way our children learn to live their faith in the real world. Since these campaigns began in 2007, thousands of babies have been saved nationwide from abortion, seventy-three clinics have closed, and more than a hundred abortion workers have left the industry worldwide. What a blessing to have our children take part in such a work!
During Lent, our homeschool group has volunteered at the local soup kitchen. Other groups organize clothing drives for a homeless shelter or pregnancy center, fundraise for a local charity, or volunteer at the local food bank. One doesn’t have to do these things only during penitential seasons of the liturgical year, but this is a good time to live our faith in the liturgical season and use these activities as teaching moments.
7. March for Life
Our location within driving distance of Washington, D.C. makes it relatively easy for families to reserve space on the many buses that make the annual trip to the March for Life every January. In preparation for the trip, we often have a meeting where the children can decorate prayer cards that are given out at the March. Those that cannot attend the March have prayed together with their families or attended Eucharistic Adoration to pray for those on the March and for its success. If you do not live close enough to the capitol, you might be able to attend a local march in your home state. It is a good way to witness for the Truth and for the unborn.
8. Special religious events
We are blessed to have several orders of consecrated religious in the immediate area. In addition to the variety shows that we have held, we are also able to attend vow and clothing ceremonies at the Carmel, novenas, church festivals, and special Masses, and visit with sisters and brothers to learn what the religious life is like. These have been great opportunities for the children to be exposed to consecrated religious and learn about vocations.
9. May Crowning
We have been blessed to hold a May Crowning at several different convents and monasteries over the years, sometimes with music and processions on the grounds. As is customary for our group, those that are making their First Holy Communion do the actual crowning. The program usually includes singing, prayers, and sometimes a talk by a priest.
10. Pray and play
During months where we do not have one of the events listed above on the calendar, the homeschool group leaders sometimes organize “pray and play” dates where families meet for Mass at one of the local parishes and play at a park afterwards.
This gives the children and parents a chance to see one another and spend some much needed down-time together, often in the summer and fall before other activities are in full swing. We have also gotten together to play Catholic Jeopardy or make cards for the religious in our community and the religious who are from our homeschool group.
Our group has been blessed to have two graduates who are consecrated religious, and several others who are discerning vocations. We always start with Mass and sometimes pray the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross together, in addition to whatever else is planned for the morning.
Our family has been so blessed by being a part of our local Catholic homeschooling group over the last ten years. My best friends have come from this group, my children have made life-long friendships, and we have several families who are linked together as godparents to each other’s children.
I would greatly suggest becoming part of a group like this or even starting one of your own if you do not have one in your area. Your family will experience so many blessings from it!