The following is a guest post from Dianna Kennedy.
Train a child up in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Seven years ago, when my husband and I were first dating, he mentioned that if he ever had children, he’d want them to be homeschooled.
I scoffed at the idea …. “Only crazy granola nutjobs do that. What about socialization?”
Here I am now, eating my words served up on a silver platter. This fall, I’ll have my six year old daughter at home, as well as 4 year old twins and a newborn. We’ll be doing a combination of first grade and preschool,God willing.
How did I end up here? I’ll share our top ten reasons why we chose to homeschool our family.
1. Raise our children in our Faith
Our Catholic catechism calls us to be the primary educators of our children. My husband and I take that call seriously. Trust me, we’re not perfect, but just learning as we go.
2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:
He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
2. Keep them close
I’m not naive, but there are many things in this world’s culture that are toxic – especially towards a traditional family unit. For us, homeschooling strengthens our family bond, and gives my children a strong sense of self.
We de-empathize the outside culture, promoting our family’s values, first and foremost. One of the primary steps we chose was to eliminate cable television. We avoid commercials that try to sell us things we don’t need, and we downplay materialism. In doing so, I’m hoping to pass these values on to our grandchildren, and keep my family close to me.
3. MORE time with my children
Having an older child helps me to have a different perspective on mothering. When my oldest daughter was small, I was still very much career oriented. Now days, I know that there will always be sick people at the hospital. My children won’t always be small.
In the busy seasons of our lives, during a pregnancy, birthdays or holidays, it’s easy to take a bit of a break, then pick up things again when life slows down.
Added bonus? Since we’re not held to the school calendar, we can vacation off season, saving our family money.
5. Encourage a love of learning
I’m a nerd, and could seriously be a professional student. I’ve never lost my love of learning. I loved being in nursing school, and even now, I love to read about how to parent, homeschool, or even how to improve my blog.
I want to foster a love of learning in my children — right now, they’re like sponges, soaking up everything we tell them. With homeschooling, we have the option to tailor our children’s learning with their interests. Got a boy who loves dinosaurs? A daughter who loves princesses? You can work math, reading and even science around one of their favorite themes.
6. Follow a model that works for us — on a schedule that works for me and my children
As much as I’d like to be, I am NOT a morning person. The thought of getting 4 children plus myself up,ready and out the door in the morning makes me have an anxiety attack!
A more relaxed pace makes for a happier mother in the morning, and in turn, a house with less stress. We get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, then start school around 9:30 or 10am. We’ll do lessons until lunchtime, then take a break to eat. We finish up after lunch, then spend time outside, hitting the library, or spending time with Daddy. Some days we will head to a friend’s house for some fun, depending on the weather, how lessons are going, or if Mom needs a break from school.
The bottom line? We get it done – it may not be a traditional 8am until 3pm, but it works for us.
7.Involve Children in Community
Serving others in need is an important tenet of our Catholic faith. Instead of simply charting service hours, we can institute these acts as a normal part of our lives. My children pitch in to help purge forgotten toys and outgrown clothing to take to others, save pennies for the collection plate at church, and come along for the ride when we volunteer at VBS or church picnics.
8. Time for special interests
Our children are still young, but if they show an interest in fine arts, music or sports, we’ll be able to fit that in. I won’t worry that the kids will be gone all day, then off for various practices and games right after getting home. We’ll even have time to teach a little home economics!
Education is much, much more than sitting behind a desk 6 hours a day. We’re looking to educate our children’s mind, body, and spirit.
9.Encourages continuous learning for parents
If I’m going to be teaching my children a subject, that means I’d better have a basic grasp, or I’ll have to outsource it.
With the classical curriculum that we use, I’ll be teaching Rachel Latin next year. That means I have next summer to teach myself! Instead of being nervous, I look at it as self enrichment. Later on, I’ll have to review some higher math concepts. (or beg Brett to teach geometry!)
If I can clear my plate of some commitments, I might consider tackling the Well Educated Mind – a guide to reading the classics for adults.
10. Boundless rewards
Even though you’ll see me on Twitter, lamenting the struggles I have with my daughter, the good days far outweigh the bad.
#homeschool moms, remind me why I’m doing this again? Every day is a constant struggle to get Rachel to do her work.
— Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) July 5, 2012
I’m thrilled when I work on a concept with her, and see the lightbulb go on. I marvel at her rising self confidence, and my heart melts when I watch her trying to teach her younger brothers. Best thing I’ve experienced? Hearing Rachel say, “Mom, I love being home with you.”
I’m still a newbie at homeschooling, but I’m glad to share what works for us. We use a pre packaged curriculum from Memoria Press.
If you have small ones at home like us, craft supplies are a must.
I’m also a big fan of unit studies – crafts, books, printables and lesson plans centered around a theme. One of my favorites involves the beach and ocean.
If you’re looking for more resources, don’t miss my homeschooling boards on Pinterest, or my homeschooling resource page.
Dianna can be found writing at The Kennedy Adventures! Head over there and congratulate her on Baby #5, or cheer her on as she contemplates a half marathon this fall. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and compiling huge homeschooling boards over on Pinterest. She writes for The Homeschool Classroom, Catholic Mothers Online, and New Evangelizers.