My husband and I have planned to homeschool our children from very early in our dating relationship. We had both been sent to traditional schools, him all Catholic schools, and me public and then Catholic high school. We felt we could give our children a fuller and more Catholic education than we received by homeschooling them.
With our oldest in first grade, this year is our first year of our self designed curriculum, picking and choosing our own books, filling in the gaps with other resources. Overall, it has been going great and worth the daily challenges of combining teaching my children with mothering the littler children, and home making.
Here are some things we love about it
1) We get to choose what our kids learn
I am learning things that I never knew this year. In some ways I am getting to do first grade all over again, but more importantly, my husband and I can choose the exact books and subjects our children are going to study. I cover the basic subjects, and my husband takes time some afternoons to cover other things.
We also can connect all the subjects together to present a fully Catholic sacramental view of the world to our children.
2) Our daily school routine builds our family unity
We wake up together. We eat breakfast together. Some days we go to daily Mass together. The younger kids learn independent playing skills while the older kids learn. The older kids learn to work independently while the younger kids get their attention.
Sometimes we have family lunchtime, and we all take a quiet rest or nap in the afternoon. Family dinner time has turned into more learning time. For example, we have been reading Scripture out loud after we eat dinner, listening to great works of music, and learning about great paintings all as a family at dinner time.
3) More time for play
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Especially in the early grades, it seems that traditional schooling does not allow for children’s needs for lots of playing. They are in school all day and then have homework when they get home.
Homeschooling allows for a couple of hours of learning and lots of hours of playing. The playing is just as important for developing the mind as the work, and a full imagination helps children be more fully human.
4) Personalized education
One of the things you learn as a parent is that each child is different from the next; every child has different gifts and weaknesses. With homeschooling we can meet each of our child where they are, and go at the pace that they need. If they master a skill we can move on, if something needs more work, we slow down.
We can let the nursery school and kindergarten years be less academic focused, so that each child can explore the world at their own pace. In the elementary grades we can find ways to make learning enjoyable and make adjustments as needed.
5) Family mass during the week
One of the biggest challenges for Catholic families is how to help the children behave at Mass. We have found that the more often we go to daily Mass together, the easier it is for the children to behave. Because we set our schedule, we can fit daily masses into our week.
Some stages in life we have been able to do almost everyday, other stages limit us to once or twice during the week. But we love getting those graces as a family, and our children are very used to behaving at Mass.
6) Our school culture is our family culture
With the way our modern culture is tending it is so important to create a strong Catholic culture in our home. Homeschooling helps us give our children a strong grounding in faith, morals, and classical culture that would be hard to do if they were not learning from us at home as a family.
7) Community of like minded Catholics
There are a lot options for homeschool groups and co-ops in our community, and we are a part of a wonderful Catholic one. This community of homeschoolers has been a great gift for me as I learn from moms who have been homeschooling for years and receive encouragement from moms who are new to it as I am. Finding this community has made homeschooling easier and wonderful.
We also have good Catholic friends who send their children to Catholic schools and use the local classical charter schools, and they work great for their families. When it comes to educating our children, there are so many good options. These are just some of the things we have come to love about homeschooling and why it has been great for our family.