The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶2221)
“It is a great fallacy for parents to believe that the education of their children depends on the school. The school is not the primary educator, but the secondary; its authority to teach the children is delegated by the parents, the right inherent in the father and the mother. Nor is the school ever a substitute for the parents.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Thoughts for Daily Living)
This month our family attended our home school association’s annual fall registration meeting. It was a great time to reunite with our support group of committed homeschooling families who share the same goals and standards. We had a Priest, Fr. Jeffrey Jambon, offer a lecture specifically geared toward day-to-day “meat and potatoes” activities and regimen for homeschooling families. Our producer recorded that talk on video and we’ll be uploading it to our You Tube channel in coming weeks. I was particularly encouraged and excited by his lecture because many of the things he offered regarding routine we practice ourselves and have found they are quite effective. We’re anxious to share his insights with you.
Our family has home schooled our children for the last 20+ years. None of our children ever attended school away from home until after high school. Currently we have one son in community college pursuing an associate degree toward obtaining an RN and another son at university in his 2nd year. Both of them have done well academically scoring among honors levels in their respective schools. We have taken the education of our children seriously and only want the best for them. Fortunately, we were introduced to the concept of homeschooling before we actually had children. We had a family that mentored us before marriage that was actually in the process of teaching their own children at the time. The rest is history; we were hooked.
The decision to home school started with the intrigue of seeing this family. They were a large, close-knit loving family that we found to be just “different” in a VERY GOOD way. As far as families we had seen in the current society (25 years ago), both Catholic and non-Catholic, they had something we wanted. We couldn’t necessarily say what it was but it was definitely attractive. Looking back, it was a family that was living an authentic Catholic lifestyle. It wasn’t like many families living like the rest of the world with a “Catholic” label on their shirts. Of course this isn’t a judgment on all those who don’t home school saying they are not authentically Catholic, but I think we are all familiar with people who populate Catholic schools but live in public unrepented mortal sin, the most common being those divorced and remarried outside the Church. The children in these families must be very confused and grow up conditioned to living around deliberate sin.
That’s a huge issue facing the family today. The lifestyle we recommend might be considered the “traditional” or what I’d consider the “natural” Catholic way of life. It starts out with a married couple who are open to receiving children and the mother committed to staying home and raising those children. To do so, the family relies on the husband to be the provider, and the wife does not work outside the home. This enables them to be open to receiving more children. By this time, most people begin to ask what the wife is supposed to do once the children go off to school. Well, for one IF they did, she would still continue to have more children. But our standard reply is that they DON’T go off to school. This lifestyle “package” enables the mother to stay home, live on the husband’s income, bear more children, and educate them herself. It is actually the natural progression and great need to the progressive society in which we live today. We have never been in a better position for mothers to be able to completely educate their own children due to the level of education the mothers themselves have received along with the resources available to parents who educate their own children.
In many, if not most, cases parents who really do their research will find that they are actually obligated to home school their children. “The Charter of the Rights of the Family, issued by (St.) Pope John Paul II in 1982, declares parents are not to send their children to any school which sets itself against their moral and religious convictions.” (Catholic Home Schooling, Dr. Mary Kay Clark p.6) Once we were informed of this obligation along with the other Catholic teachings and directives in Dr. Clark’s book, we felt it was incumbent upon us to take on the education of our own children. That was the decision with schools in the state they were in 20 years ago, which has deteriorated even more so since. From a moral standpoint, I came to the practical realization that it would be next to impossible to impart my morals and beliefs into my children if for the vast majority of their waking hours they were in a Godless environment amongst people with completely unknown moral and character standards. How are we as parents supposed to "educate" and impart our moral philosophy to our children if we are only with them during their residual hours at the end of everyday when they are exhausted and unable to absorb anything more? Many parents rely on Catholic schools to satisfy this obligation. In reading Dr. Clark’s book, we realized that wasn’t necessarily a failsafe option in all cases. Also, considering that most Catholic schools have to pay lay teachers because there are so few religious brothers and sisters to teach there, the cost to send their children to them is at odds with being open to having the large families the Church encourages us toward. All things considered, the obvious answer to all of these concerns is home schooling. I would encourage parents to make sure their high school children and college age children read this book in preparation for their future as Catholic parents.
There are many questions and objections to homes schooling that were much more prevalent when we started about 20 years ago, but with the passage of time and some results we can see that those concerns can be allayed. The most common were the academic sufficiency of home education and the socialization of the students. Since many elite universities welcome and recruit home schooled students now, the question of academic sufficiency should be satisfied. As far as socialization, I would just encourage someone who has this question to just spend some time around some home schooled kids. There are very much adept in this area and are not kept as recluses in the home. Actually the home is a better environment to learn true social skills. We have to stop and think if we have ever worked in an environment where the people we associated with all day long were of the same age and academic level as ourselves. This actually makes the typical classroom setting much more artificial for the students. It is definitely more of a method of processing large numbers of children at the same time for efficiency. Parents with their genuine concern and the attention of a fewer number of children can really do a much better job. With the moral issues we see today, I have very serious reservations of wanting my children to “socialize” with other children randomly grouped together in a classroom. There’s no way for me to know what’s going on in those children’s homes, what they are being exposed to, and what they are allowed to do.
As parents, we may feel that this is just too weird, that we don’t want our kids to be that different, that we want them to be “normal.” I know I first thought of it as weird when first hearing about home schooling since I was not familiar with it and went to public (government) schools all my life. Once I became informed and actually met more and more home schooling families, it became quite different. It was actually exciting to take on this role with our children. Then when we actually started teaching them and saw the results, it became so rewarding. It does take a lot of effort but anything that is rewarding does, and those that ultimately benefit the most are our own children. They have had no difficulty in continuing their education or acquiring good employment. We encourage all Catholic families to prayerfully consider and become properly informed through credible resources this superior educational option for your children.
God bless you+