WHY HOME SCHOOLING?
90% chose it in order to protect their children from evil influences in the schools, Catholic and otherwise, which are pulling their children away from God, away from the Catholic Church, and away from their own family.
More and more parents are choosing home schooling because of the renewed push for explicit sex education. Some have done so because of the broad range of false and immoral ideas propagated by books, teachers, classroom discussions and peer pressure in schools. Some have chosen home education because of the lack of academics being taught in the schools. The main problem heard from parents regarding this is that children are not learning to read. No matter which method is currently in use, if it is not phonics, children will not learn to decode sounds to read words. If a child cannot read, grades in all subjects will plummet quickly.
Wishy-washy Catholic schools can hardly produce a generation of saints. The Charter of the Rights of the Family, issued by Pope John Paul II in 1982, declares that parents are not to send their children to any school which sets itself against their moral and religious convictions.
But what if every available school goes against your religious convictions? The answer is simple: Home school.
We must bring the children home to the family and teach them the truths of the Catholic Faith. Home schoolers are independent thinkers. They are not pressured to agree with the group or with an authority other than God and His representatives, their parents.
Catholic home schooling means raising cradle Catholics. A cradle Catholic is a person born into a Catholic family who is taught the culture, the traditions, and the faith of the Catholic Church by words, actions, songs, Sacraments, and sacramentals. Catholic children trained at home in a complete family catechetical program, can be, and will be, effective leaders in restoring the Catholic Church. Their devotion to daily Mass, their love for the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, their prayer and lighting of candles – all these indicate the authentic Catholic lifestyle, a deep love and understanding of Jesus and His Church.
Catholic home schooling is a family apostolate in the forefront of the spiritual battle to preserve the Catholic Faith and the Catholic culture and traditions. When homosexuality, a direct attack against family and children, is accepted as an alternative lifestyle, one can no longer pretend to live in a Christian world. The only answer is to bring the children home, keep them close, and teach them in the inner sanctum of the domestic church, our Catholic homes.
BENEFITS OF HOME SCHOOLING for the Catholic Family
• For the student: They tend to be innocent and retain their childhood at a natural pace without being thrown into conversations and discussions beyond their natural interests and maturity level. They are shaped by the family rather than by hours of interaction with others at the same level of immaturity. Another benefit is social development at different stages of maturity. Thus children learn about the needs and interests of the elderly from grandparents. They learn about the helplessness of babies and their need for protection. They learn to forgive those who disregard their possessions as they deal patiently with little brothers and sisters. Home schooled children learn to serve others as they hep younger siblings with their studies. Obedience and respect for authority are learned as parents respect grandparents, as children respect and serve parents.
• For the mother: It provides the opportunity to fulfil her responsibility in the marriage vocation to educate her children. It provides a maturing process for a young woman as she dedicates herself in service to youngsters who look up to her with loving eyes for direction. Many home schooling mothers have said that their education was wasted on them when they were young, but now they were enjoying relearning everything from how to diagram a sentence to learning about the earth to discussing the French Revolution!
• For the father: The father can see, provide, and protect his family in his home. He can share in the very joys for which he is providing because he has more opportunities to spend time with them on account of their easily adaptable schedules. If the father thinks that being at home with the children is important, you bet that these children will be at-home fathers with their children. He will lead, but also respect, and even depend on the support of his own children, especially as they grow into young adults. He will grow to understand what fatherhood means as he sees the dependency of his children who look to him for guidance, rather than to their peers or teachers. The Catholic home schooling father is likely to grow in his own spiritual life as he becomes more involved in the lessons which are permeated with Catholic beliefs.
• For the Church: Home schooling families are responding to God’s will to be open and charitable regarding having children. They have more opportunities to give good example in living the authentic Catholic life. They are supportive of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
A CATHOLIC CURRICULUM
A Catholic curriculum is one in which every subject taught is permeated with the truths of the Catholic faith. It is not a standard curriculum that simply includes a religion class. Every class is to incorporate Christ’s teachings.
• Arithmetic: Use of Biblical stories & real-life situations like going for Mass, field trips with other home school families, visits to shrines as a family, picketing abortion clinics, etc. in word problems. Foe eg., measuring the floor at the parish church, gas mileage on the way to a rosary rally, working in a Catholic book store, purchase of religious articles, and so on.
• Art: Craft ideas for special days like feasts can be developed. Learning about Christian artists and their works, the architecture of churches, paintings of the saints, etc.
• English: Almost any passage from the Bible or books on saints, Church Fathers, etc. can be used to teach vocabulary & grammar, book reports on the lives of saints, or books written by Catholic authors (G.K. Chesterton, for one), compositions on many Catholic topics.
• Handwriting: Use of Psalms and other books of the Bible can be used or any passages on saints, sacramentals, etc.
• History: History books recognise that the central event in history is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Try to incorporate Catholic achievements and missionary work in the lessons. Link time with what was happening in the Catholic domain alongside secular world history.
• Music: Music is important for children as a means of learning the Christian message, as well as giving children the opportunity to express Catholic beliefs in song. Teach music used earlier in Churches like the Gregorian chant and classical music used.
• Phonics: Use sentences from Bible.
• PE: For example, St. Paul compared spiritual life to running a race. ‘Stand tall and defend the faith’, ‘This exercise will help strengthen the stomach muscles God gave you’.
• Religion: Baltimore Catechism (CCC) includes Q & As, fill-in exercises and Bible references.
• Science: For Example, while teaching about heart and blood, we can conclude with information of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano. See God’s hand in creation of nature. Wind reminds us of the Holy Spirit. Pro-life issues can be dealt with.
• Spelling: Words from the Bible or other Catholic texts can be taught in addition to other words.
• Vocabulary: Passages can be taken from the Bible, meanings of unknown found and sentences can be made.
HOW TO BEGIN HOME SCHOOLING
Home schooling is primarily a commitment to God, and secondarily a commitment to family. Ask for the grace to know what you should do, for the courage to make the right decision, for the strength to carry it out. Make a nine-day novena, pray to the Blessed Mother for wisdom. If you finally decide after nine days of prayer and fasting that you should home school, but your spouse remains against it, wait for him/her to commit or ask if (s)he will allow you just one year as a trial.
How to tell your husband: Consider taking your husband to your local support group meetings, particularly when you know that other fathers will be present. Ask him to read up on home schooling and become more informed. If he refuses to read, then you should read and discuss the ideas with him at the dinner table or whenever you can.
Before you start, put in writing the reasons why you want to teach your children at home. Be sure to discuss this thoroughly with your spouse if possible.
How to tell the children: If your children are older, you can have a family conference. Both of you should explain to your children exactly why you believe so strongly that you should teach them at home. This will head off complaining and bitterness later.
Statement of Goals: List specific goals or objectives. Religious goals like going for daily Mass, Confession once a month. That at least once a week certain activities should relate to the liturgical calendar. Character goals like good manners, learning to be gentle with younger siblings, appreciation of parents, etc. Academic goals like finishing a standard or syllabus in a prescribed period, or completion of learning a particular skill by the prescribed period, etc. Having specific goals keeps you and your children on track. Unless you write down the goals, you will never reach them.
Post a list of the disadvantages of sending your children to public school where you can see it to remind you of why you have chosen to home school.
Parents who are home schooling their last children should make notes about the effects of school on their older children.
Neighbours: It might be a good idea to keep your children in the house during school hours. It is not a matter of hiding as much as a matter of not causing your neighbours to be reminded every day of what you are doing. Consider moving to a location where there are home schooling families.
Withdrawing from the school: Try to make the change at the beginning of a school year, or at the semester break, or during a long vacation. It is best not to have your children talk about leaving a school while they are still attending. Notify your school principal in writing, unless you have good personal relations with the school personnel. State simply that you are transferring to a new school and need the leaving certificate. If the school asks why you wish to home school, be sure to present the positive reasons without maligning the school. Say that you are going to try this alternative for a year and see how it works out.
How much Time?
It depends from child to child and from grade to grade. A boy usually needs to study his spelling longer than a girl; a girl often needs to spend more time on math than a boy. Math and reading should usually take about an hour a day; while spelling and vocabulary can usually be done in 20 minutes. English, religion, history and science are usually 30-40 minutes classes. High school classes are 50 minutes each for most students. Extra reading for
book reports can be done in the evening and should take an hour or so daily.
Parents also need time to prepare for the lessons especially with higher grades. You should figure an hour or two a week to look over what you need to do for the following week. Most students coming out of schools do not have good study skills and they need parental help whereas those who have been home schooling for several years can practically do all their high school assignments without help. However, it is important to discuss their schoolwork, esp. religion, literature and history in order to convey proper Catholic perspective.
Arranging the Home: Shaping an extra room out of some area of the house is required to create a special place for the home schooling material to be kept permanently. Some create a classroom in the basement, others in the garage. In some homes, the family room is the classroom. Others have built a small outdoor house on the property as their classroom.
It is difficult to use the living room/dining room as the main classroom. There needs to be a permanent place where books, encyclopaedias, and desks can be kept. Limit the number of items in your kitchen for you will need room for science projects and art projects. Add an altar or a holy picture in the room. Decorate the walls with maps, display boards (one for each child, if possible), etc. You should decide whether it would be easier to reach the children all together in one room, or have the children working in different rooms. Maybe, they could be separated for Math and English but could assemble for religion and music.
Working out a schedule: Most children like the most difficult subjects in the morning, with the easier subjects in the afternoon. Ask the children to outline their weekly schedules and post it near their desks.
Before you begin to home school, purchase whatever you need to set up a schooling or learning area. Make your own blackboard with plywood and black paint or paint part of one wall with paint to use as your board. Alternatively, you can paint separate areas of the room for each child to use as their special writing area. Visit other home schooling families and see how they decorate their ‘classroom’ to give you some ideas. Display your children’s special talents or hobbies prominently in the room.