3 June 2006

Yes, You can Homeschool

Gathered around doing their Maths Quiz.
“I could never do that!”
So say many people when they hear we homeschool our six children.
I suspect this is just an instant response, without too much thought being given to what “homeschooling” actually is. After all, we may be the only homeschooling family they know and they may have only met me.
So, for all those that are concerned that they could never homeschool, I would like to offer the following considerations.

God never gives us anything we cannot handle. After all, he is all knowing, all loving and has known us as individuals since the beginning of time. He went through a lot of generations since Adam knowing at what point in history you were to arrive in this world.
Oftentimes, the key to happy homeschooling is to approach it not as homeSCHOOLing, but rather raising the people of tomorrow.
Even better, remember that the Christian approach to everything is holistic. The Church is concerned with the whole Truth, how everything fits together, how we relate to God and his total creation - body and soul.
In a like manner, the family is the domestic Church and we are called to approach the world and God as a complete family, responsible for the whole person of each member of our family.
Homeschooling is perfect for this. It isn't just about getting good grades. In fact, this is NOT one of the most important reasons to homeschool.
I have always argued that homeschooling is the natural way for a family to raise and educate ALL members of the family. “Modern” schooling is a relatively new concept and the results aren’t looking that refreshing.
Lana and I have learnt a great deal since we started homeschooling almost ten years ago. For one thing, my writing has certainly improved! Each day something new is learned by all of us as one child or another shares a new discovery. “Hey Mum, look at this…” or “Dad, did you know this?”
Each family member learns from others in the family within the proper hierarchy of Husband, Wife and children - all equal in God's eyes, but all with different roles to perform. (Our baby's role is to be cute)
When we first considered homeschooling, Lana was very concerned that she wasn't good enough or clever enough to do it. “I don’t think I could do that!” she said, quickly followed by, “Show me!”
I knew we had to do it as there was no choice, but I had to do the work and prove my case. We investigated further by visiting other homeschooling families and socialising with them. We specifically played some games with older children and homeschool graduates to see if they were “normal”. They were and we were ready to give homeschooling a go.
With both of us working at it together - me as principal and Lana as head teacher - combined with the knowledge that there is no choice, and lots of prayer, we dived in.
Don't worry about trying to recreate a school environment at home - that is counter educational anyway. Most modern schools are designed for crowd control and child minding - education is secondary.
How can I claim this? The time within a school day that can actually be directed towards any individual student, the level of distractions in the classroom and beyond and the inability to match the subject difficulty with the student ability all mitigate against a typical school being the best educational option.
Enjoy the time with your children. If they can't concentrate, get them to run around your property a few times. Try shorter lessons (15 to 20 minutes). Have a stop clock nearby and say, “Maths is over! Run around outside for 10 minutes and then we'll do reading.”
Don't doubt your ability to teach your own children. The Grace of marriage is a very potent source of strength and power. Keep it charged with regular prayer, confession and the Eucharist. Besides, you are not alone. Your primary support is your husband, God and other homeschooling families - especially great people like those on Magnum Opus email list and the 4 Real Learning forum.
Ask for help from other experienced families and invest time in this very important responsibility. As it is one of the duties of a husband and wife to raise and educate children, if you invest the time and energy, God will provide the interest and return.
We discussed the issue of the devil's attacks on Magnum Opus. A key point to remember is that he always tries to attack our weak spots. For most mothers, the attack is on their self confidence and to feel as if their work at home is worthless. For fathers it is making them mis-prioritise their responsibilities to their wife and family.
Consider the family as the modern equivalent of a monastery amidst the marauding vandals prowling around. The Father has to take his role as protector, provider and spiritual head seriously. Providing the physical needs is not enough.
The Mother has to emulate the Blessed Mother and remember the huge graces earned from the most important work of raising children well.
Finally, remember that this is the most important work we have in the world today - raising good and faithful families.


Adriana said...

I would love a copy of your marvellous maths quiz David. I will try to get Iain to work and become a mathematical wonder in no time.

DavidofOz said...

Hi Adriana
I have linked to the Maths Quiz in this post.
We run the set of five quizes over the week and the children's mental maths has improved greatly.