What do we name her? Will he take formula or breastmilk? Who’ll be her godparents?
As part of being good stewards of our God-given blessings, we hope that the answers for the many decisions we have are always what is best for the child and the family as a whole. Including the moment when we have to figure out What school will our child go to?
The options are many: public, private, catholic or other separate school, alternative or learning centres, and other terms I’m not too familiar with. And then there’s homeschooling.
“Homeschooling” is the common term used to describe parents taking direct responsibility for their children’s education instead of sending the children to school. Other phrases I’ve heard that refer to the same idea are home-based learning, homelearning, home education, and unschooling. The last one has a bit of a radical ring to it, don’t you think?
My husband and I have entertained the idea of homeschooling since we found out we were pregnant with our first child. At the time, we didn’t know how to go about the process, so when our first daughter turned four, we enrolled her in the Catholic school near our home. For two years she went to kindergarten followed by our second daughter since they are one year apart. We liked the school, and we loved their teachers…I think teachers are amazing.
But throughout that time the thought of homeschooling remained in our minds. And it was also about that time when we came across one of the most important encyclicals written in our time.
In his encyclical Familiaris Consortio, Saint Pope John Paul II says:
“The right of parents to choose an education in conformity with their religious faith must be absolutely guaranteed…those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable.”
We took these words to heart and found our confidence to go for it and begin to teach our children at home. That was seven years ago.
Now an eighth grader, our oldest is enrolled for the first time in the local Catholic school while the rest of the children are still being taught at home. We have been homeschooling for seven years now and will be continuing for a few more, by God’s grace. For every year that passes, we believe more and more that we have made the right decision for our family.
So why do we homeschool? Here are our reasons:
If you recall the words during Baptism that we said ‘yes’ to, one of them was the promise to fulfill the role as nurturers of the life that God has entrusted to us, including teaching the Faith.
(2) To teach and give them a Christian view relating to every area of life and learning, making Christ the centre of every aspect of our life.
After we have taught the Faith, we now teach by example. To be honest, I’ve probably learned just as much if not more about this aspect of homeschooling.
(3) To allow more parental influence, especially in the tender, early years, as their character, values, and attitudes are being formed.
As Christian parents, we need to take seriously our God-given responsibility to “Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Now I know every family is different and parents’ decisions on schooling will vary for every situation. Homeschooling is understandably not for everybody, and parents’ choice of education for their children ultimately reflects what they believe to be the best for their family. What I am sharing here is the leap of faith that we took, and how it is working for our family.
Also, this is not to say that homeschooling is the answer to all social problems. Children cannot be forever immune from negative influences even in the best homeschool groups. Whether taught at home or in traditional school, we as parents have to be fully tuned in to our children to be sure they learn, grow, and continue to conduct themselves in a morally upright manner.
What I do believe is that the environment gives us mothers and fathers the most flexible and generous opportunity to instill Christian character into our children, and to give glory to God through our efforts as parents and good stewards of His children.