Saturday, July 27, 2013

Educating our Kiddos, Catholic Style

I've definitely noticed a growing trend of homeschoolers lately. Growing up, I only knew two families who homeschooled, both for different reasons (one religious, one due to difficulties the daughter faced in the public school system). It's definitely becoming more popular, and I imagine easier to homeschool these days. You have homeschooling groups and communities, the internet, a bunch of different programs available, forums for support and questions, etc. Many of the Catholic bloggers I follow homeschool their children, and the most popular programs seem to be Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, Kolbe, and Angelicum. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong!). Many of these blogger mamas have large families, and frankly I'm amazed at how they can do it all. I have a sincere question for you ladies: how in the world do you educate multiple children in different grade levels at the same time? This is something I've always been curious about, but as I said before I really didn't know too many homeschooling families growing up.

I'll be perfectly, 100% honest here. Homeschooling just isn't for me.

Don't get me wrong, Will and I absolutely want our children to have a Catholic education. We agreed long ago, way before I even got pregnant, that we would make sacrifices to send our children to a good Catholic school with both a good academic and religious reputation. We want our children to realize that church isn't just for Sundays, and their religious education won't stop at CCD. We want Tony and Alessandra and any other children who may come along to grow with their faith, from preschool onward. I'm sure many of you are reading this thinking, "if it's that important to you for your children to learn as much about their Catholic faith as possible, why don't you just homeschool them?" Before I list my reasons, rest assured that I think homeschooling can be a wonderful thing for many families. This isn't a post about bashing homeschoolers, and I absolutely understand there may come a time in our lives when I have to reconsider my stance on an at-home education. (More on that later). In the meantime, these are the reasons why I want my children to attend school outside of the home.

1. Why I believe I would be an excellent, or at least decent English, history, or language teacher, I do not feel in the least bit comfortable teaching a high school science or math class. Those were my two weakest subjects in school, and I would hate to pass along my scientific and mathematical incompetence to my children.

2. There are so many wonderful, creative people in the education field who have the ability to dream up art projects-or any project, really-that will expand a child's mind and imagination. I am not one of those people. The thought of doing anything crafty makes me break out in hives.

3. I want our children to experience in-school Christmas concerts, Halloween and Valentine's Day parties, classroom field trips, school dances, and after school activities. I certainly understand that many homeschooled children participate in sports, music, and other activities outside of the home, but depending on where we're living that isn't always so easy.

4. I personally feel it will be beneficial to my children to learn alongside other children who are not their siblings. Which leads me to my next and final point...

5. As selfish as this may sound, there isn't a single person on this earth I want to be around 24/7. Not my mom, even though she and I are very close and love spending time with one another. Not my best friend. Not my husband, and no, not even my children. I love my children to death, and I would take a bullet for either of them. BUT. I also need a break from them. What's more, I know they will need a break from me. I attended public schools until I went away to college, and I loved either walking to school or hopping on the bus everyday. I was excited to see my friends and teachers, and I looked forward to seeing my mom at the end of the day when school was over. I'm honestly not sure how I would have felt if my mom and I were around each other from the moment I woke up, to sitting around the kitchen table doing schoolwork, to having dinner with our family, to going to bed.

I've heard the (often valid) argument from homeschooling parents that they don't want their kids exposed to some of the things that occur in public and private schools nowadays. Hey, I get it. I truly do. When I was in middle school, I knew there were 13 and 14-year old kids having sex. I knew there were kids who sneaked off to the bathroom in between classes to get high. When I was in high school, I knew kids who threw parties when their parents were out of town, and the cops would show up and makes arrests for underage drinking. I knew kids who abused harder drugs than pot. And there was definitely more than one teen pregnancy at my high school. That being said, even though all of that undesirable stuff was happening around me, I never got involved. That is ultimately what I want to teach our kids; rather than completely shielding them from peer pressure or difficult situations, give them the opportunity to make the right choice.

Now, I will fully admit there are extenuating circumstances where homeschooling may be an option for my family one day. If we move to an area without any (good) Catholic schools, and the public schools are either very poor from an academic standpoint or there's a history of violent behavior at the schools, I would absolutely consider homeschooling our children. Another instance would be if one of our children is acting out in school; poor grades, hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble, etc. I would have zero issue pulling our child out of school and teaching him/her at home to keep him/her out of trouble. If one of my children is being bullied and the school administration is giving Will and I the run-around or not taking the situation seriously, I would pull our child out of that school for their own safety. You know what? Who knows. I have no idea what our living situation, financial situation, or family situation will be when it comes time for our children to begin school. Never say never, right?

I'd really like to hear from other bloggers on this subject. I'm always up for a (respectful) debate! If you homeschool, what are your reasons for doing so? If you plan on sending your children to public or parochial schools, why do you feel that is the best fit for your family?

2 comments:

  1. I'm not Catholic, but I wholeheartedly agree with all your reasons that you wouldn't homescshool -- no way is it for me/us either. I need space, I need for us both to be "working the work" of being independent people within a close-knit family.

    Honestly, the #1 reason.. I am still best friends with people I've been best friends with since 2nd grade. They've helped to shape me; they are like family, and the things we experienced together were amazing both inside and outside of the classroom -- band tours, prom, etc...

    Also, I think that you can shield your kid from all the "bad stuff" in the world, but that bad stuff still exists, so my personal opinion is that it is better to teach them how to stay no, stand tall, and stick to their guns. I was like you -- I never got into any of that junk in high school (That's what college was for!), but I was certainly aware of it, and was even friends with a lot of people who were into it.

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    1. I agree. I made some wonderful friends in the school system, and we are still friends to this day. I don't have the greatest memories of middle school (but honestly, who does??) due to bullying and lack of adult intervention. That being said, high school was light years better, and I felt comfortable enough at that point to branch out and join clubs, make new friends, etc.

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