When I was growing up, I had several opportunities to travel by airplane. I was delighted by all of it. (It was not until after I was married that I had my air travel bubble popped, when we nearly crashed upon landing in St. Louis.) Back to those golden times, however, the trappings of air travel were exciting, even glamorous to this Kentucky-bred girl. While part of me wants to sit here and reminisce about all those travels, what brought it to mind was the ongoing discussion I am having with several friends regarding home education.
I was raised in a very privileged environment. I am an ivy-league graduate and have seen my fair share of the globe; and, no I was not a Catholic missionary at the time. While I am easy-going and like to please people (dominate sanguine temperament), I am pleasure-loving as well. I have travelled and lived in Spain and Latin America where, unless I've missed a trend, homeschooling is not a big movement in those places. Here in the US of A, it is; and, thank the good God for it. It is a movement. It involves both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. At its best, homeschooling is a vocation, a calling from Christ our Lord to enter into His very life.
The requirement is a willing heart. For me, the willingness to bring everyone home was just the beginning of what has been a very challenging and inspiring, 18 or so, months. The last year the girls were in school I read and read and read. I looked at lots of curricula. I thought I knew my childrens' needs and planned to the best of my ability. I knew God's Love would fill in my gaps. The one thing that has remained consistent since 2005, when my husband and I really began to desire to educate the children from home, is a regular and fervent prayer life. We "show up" for prayer.
I could really end the story with that. Pray, and keep praying, and the Lord will enlighten your path. For those interested in "jumping off the cliff," in taking the leap of faith necessary to bring one child, or more, home, or to home educate from the "get-go", the tools in the tool belt are the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit (Fortitude, Fear of the Lord, Knowledge, Piety, Understanding, Wisdom, and Counsel).
I really wish there was less thought of "homeschooling" and more on "home educating," because education and schooling are two very different things. As my nine year old daughter told a dear friend the other day when asked what she most liked about homeschooling, she replied, "I like how we are learning all the time." I love watching my children pursue their interests. I am amazed at how different our three are one from the other. I do not always have an easy time with my children, and I am with them alot more than they are with their dad. Yet, the children know that my husband and I are a common front when it comes to their education. Jerry really encouraged me to breastfeed, and I joked with him that he just wanted to save the money on formula. Down deep I knew it gave him great pleasure and real satisfaction that I chose to raise the children in a very wholesome, relaxed way. When I finally got the courage to bring the girls home, he was again deeply appreciative. He still is.
I love the discussions my husband and I have about what we are learning and how we are doing it. Again, it is not always easy for us to find our way, but we turn to Mother Church. By staying faithful, we are faithful to our children. In turn, I love talking with my children. I do not talk at them much; that is, I am not spending my mornings "playing teacher". I am who I am, and I bring my gifts to bear on their education. I notice that if I leave them alone for long periods, they learn more. We spend a good amout of time each week learning together as a family.
I think home educating moms need time alone to pause and reflect on the journey. My husband is down the street "as we speak" at our neighborhood father-child campout, but two already came home. You know, one news flash from my end is this: my children and I love being at home alone and quiet. This notion that you "never get a break" is faulty because home education provides the time and space to learn to peacefully co-exist.
NOTES: I began my search for materials with the Catholic Heritage Curricula and have been so nourished by the writing and speaking of Rita Munn. Holly Pierlot's book, A Mother's Rule of Life, is one of my favorite resources so far. I also loved Susie Andres book, Homeschooling with Gentleness, A Catholic Discovers Unschooling. But, looking back, both of these books came into my hands as what I call an "affirmation", meaning that they affirmed what I was already doing, what I was already thinking. I do not read about someone's life, then go change everything. It is, I believe, a gift from our Lord that we are all valid. There are several approaches and each family has a unique charism that enables them to learn in the manner that fits their needs, talents and challenges. I loved the political and religious insights in Mary Kay Clark's book Catholic Home Schooling, and have found a lot of the Seton materials engaging. I peruse regularly Adoremusbooks.com.
Adoremus has the syllabi for various programs in all grades in all subjects. I do not follow a daily lesson plan split into subjects. I do cover the "four R's" (reading, writing, arithmetic and religion) as part of our morning prayer/saint of the day routine.
In writing this, I realize that I'd like to blog some of our favorite books. I am reading How America Began from Seton and love the Pauline sisters books on the saints. There is more, but I am getting tired. More later....