[Editor’s note: This is Part I of a two-part guest blog series.]
Many Catholic parents have discovered the joy of teaching their children at home, but it is not for everyone or every child. It is a decision that must be made after careful thought and prayer. Homeschooling is a huge commitment. If you homeschool, you are your child’s teacher, and homeschooling must be your priority during the school week. It’s a commitment you must keep 180 days of each year if you follow the regular school year or almost every day if you decide to follow a year-round calendar.
Why Catholic Parents Choose to Homeschool
Catholic parents decide to homeschool their children for various reasons. Faith, control over the curriculum, child safety, and many other issues factor into the decision of whether to homeschool. For many Catholic parents, teaching the Faith to their children and taking a more active role in instilling them with moral values is the biggest reason for considering homeschooling. Some families do not have access to parochial education or find it too expensive, so homeschooling provides a more affordable alternative that allows the child to grow closer to God.
Other parents believe that even Catholic schools have become too secularized and want to fulfill their religious obligation to raise their child as Catholic without external influences. In other situations, parents choose to homeschool because they believe it can give their children an edge, maturing them earlier and better preparing them to face the realities of life. They might decide to homeschool after weighing their options, both parochial and public, and determining that neither provides the level of instruction they expect. They might have also seen the value of using personalized learning to allow their children to learn at their own pace and to enable in-depth development in the subjects their children most enjoy.
Others homeschool because they feel their children’s safety is at risk in traditional educational institutions, with issues such as bullying and shootings regularly making the news. Whatever the reason, homeschooling is an excellent way for Catholic parents to take charge of their children’s education in a more direct and meaningful manner.
A Long-Term Commitment to Teaching
One of the first things you need to consider when deciding whether to homeschool is if you can commit to the lifestyle it requires. Catholic homeschooling must not be treated as a hobby. Instead, you need to be there to instruct your child in some capacity even if you share that responsibility as part of a wider homeschooling community in your area.
Some parents take a laidback approach to homeschooling, leaving their children to decide their schedules and work through the material provided by their curriculum provider at their own pace. While this arrangement might work for older teens who have matured in a homeschooled environment and can balance the responsibilities of education with other activities, teaching younger children requires more involvement.
Additionally, Catholic homeschooling demands that parents set an example by shouldering the responsibility of teaching their children in a manner faithful to the teachings of the Church. Before you commit to homeschooling, think about how much time you can dedicate to it each day. Ideally, one parent needs to stay home to teach the kids, so dual-income families must determine if they can afford to lose one source of income in exchange for their children’s education. Both parents must also support the decision to homeschool since doing so without the support of your spouse can detract from your ability to fully commit to the task.
Take into account how much time you and your child can commit to studying and instruction each day while considering other important activities, such as socializing with friends or participating in sports programs. Consider also if you and your spouse can share schooling duties, such as one spouse taking on most of the academic instruction during the day and the other serving as the PE or music teacher after work. If you live in a community with other Catholic homeschoolers, you might be able to lessen the burden by sharing teaching responsibilities with other parents.
— Laurel Whitworth is married to David and is a mom to four little people. She is the VP of Merchandise for Aquinas & More as well as the manager of all things family life. She and her family are enjoying their new life in Colorado with many trips into the mountains and forging new friendships in church and school.