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Homeschooling: Easier Than We Thought

In our wildest dreams, my wife and I never imagined homeschooling our children. My two sisters homeschooled theirs, but they had lots of energy.

Then one night, while my wife and I were on a "date" at a local coffee house, we began to talk about how we could spend more time with our children once they began school. "What about homeschooling?", I bravely asked. That would certainly allow more time with the kids.

As we talked, the conversation deepened. We came to realize that we are not merely preparing our children to get into a good college, or have a nice job, or prepare for a pleasant retirement. We are preparing them for eternal life. St. Anthony's Catholic Homeschool was born.

Initially, it seemed daunting. The first year was the hardest: what to teach and how?  Now into our sixth year, these are the keys we've learned:

  1. Key #1. Pick an Easy-to-Use Curriculum. One of the tricks is finding a good curriculum to help you know what to teach and when. We use the Mother of Divine Grace Curriculum available through Emmanuel Books (look under "Syllabi"). The curriculum tells you which books to buy and gives you week-by-week lesson guidelines for each grade level. Other good sources for Catholic home school curriculum are listed below.

  2. Key #2. Get the Kids Reading. Once you teach your kids to read, homeschooling becomes much easier. We've found that most homeschool materials are pretty much self-directed and require little parental involvement. So if your kids can read, they can teach themselves. We found that the $20 book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons works very well. It only takes about 15 minutes a day. One of my sisters, who is a public school teacher with a major in reading, was taught at college that this book is one of the best ways to teach reading. But here's the catch -- it only works when teaching one-to-one -- so it's not much use in public schools.

  3. Key #3. Takes Less Time than You Think. Homeschooling takes much less time than we thought, perhaps less time than driving your kids to and from school, or waiting for the bus. Because kids finish most of their "formal" school work in the morning, it leaves lots of extra time for creative play, piano practice, and reading.

  4. Key #4. Don't Worry About Socialization. Socialization fears did not prove out. In fact, research has shown that most homeschooled kids are better socialized than their classroom companions. That's because they need to learn to deal with people of different ages and abilities (their siblings). They also tend to have greater opportunities to deal with adults. From my own experience, I know that a grade school environment does not represent the real world -- how many people do you know work only with people their own age?

  5. Key #5. Costs Less Than You Think. There are many places to purchase homeschool materials. You can spend oodles of money or you can do it on a shoe string. You can save lots of money by frequently visiting your public library and using their books. Most libraries even allow you to scan for books online, and then have them held at your nearest library.

  6. Key #6. Keep Your Focus. I am sure that God is not calling all parents to homeschool their kids. But in any case, parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children. No public or private school will ever have the degree of love or concern that you have for your children. And remember, children are a precious gift and we parents are entrusted with the responsibility to prepare them for the most precious gift of all eternal life.

Below are some great homeschooling links:

Curriculum Suppliers
Here are some places where you can find solid Catholic curriculums and necessary books as well.

Homeschooling Organizations
Here are some organizations that provide support for homeschooling families.

  • National Association of Catholic Home Educators (NACHE)
    An organization of homeschooling parents that provides spiritual, doctrinal, and practical information to homeschooling Catholics, those considering homeschooling, and for Catholics forming their children in the Faith.

  • Traditions of Roman Catholic Homes (TORCH)
    An association of lay faithful established to promote homeschooling among Catholic families and to support those families who are engaged in providing their children's primary education at home.

  • Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
    Although not a Catholic organization, it definitely has a Christian perspective. This site has lots of good information and statistics about homeschooling. If you belong to NACHE, you can get a discount if you join HSLDA.

Other Good Catholic Homeschooling Links

  • Favorite Resource for Catholic Homeschoolers
    A unique resource guide, research tool and sampler for Catholic parents and others who "love to learn".

  • Ecce Homo Press
    Some great Catholic books and programs.

  • Bethlehem Books
    Publishes lots of wholesome, character-building literature for children and families.

  • Ignatius Press
    A wonderful Catholic bookseller that has "grown-up" and kids books and videos. They also sell many homeschool resource books -- make sure to look at Laura Berquist's Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (from which the Mother of Divine Grace Curriculum is based), and Michael O'Brien's Landscape with Dragons (which outlines many of the hidden dangers in today's culture).

  • Tan Books
    Another Catholic book publisher that produces many good children's books, especially lives of the saints.

 

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Last Updated Wednesday May 06, 2009
A.M.D.G.