If you had told me that I was going to be a homeschooling mom ten years ago, I probably would have laughed at you. I didn’t know any homeschoolers growing up, and for some reason, I bought into the whole “homeschoolers are weird” notion without ever having met one. I always assumed that my kids would go to Catholic school, just like I had. I’d turned out just fine after nearly twenty years of Catholic school, so why shouldn’t it be the same for my kids?
My decision to homeschool was a gradual one. I remember my husband asking me if I was open to homeschooling when we were first dating. I’d told him I was, but that I was really hoping to send my kids to Catholic school. When we got married, I was working full-time for a parish with a Catholic school attached, so I assumed we’d send our kids there. But then my husband got a job teaching in northwestern Virginia, and we moved to what seems to be the homeschooling capital of the country.
My son was only two at the time, so school was still not on the top of my list of priorities. We were busy with play dates, and school seemed so far away. I still thought we would send our kids to the local parish school, but as time passed, the question of education became more pertinent. I wanted more than anything to do what was best for my son, but I wasn’t sure what that was.
My job as a mother is to get my children to heaven. I want to make sure that I do everything in my power to help them on the way. I want to give them every advantage, and the longer I prayed about it, the more I felt like homeschooling was an advantage that I needed to give my kids. If I was educating my kids at home, I would know exactly what they were learning. I would be able to ensure that prayer had a central place in our daily lives. And I would have a very good idea of who my kids’ friends were. I knew that I could homeschool my kids, and as time went by, I became convinced that I should homeschool them.
I know that children can become saints in all kinds of circumstances. I know that public school kids can be very holy, and Catholic school kids aren’t necessarily saints. I have firsthand experience with both. I consider my husband to be a very holy man, and he went to public school through twelfth grade. I, on the other hand, was a Catholic school girl all through my educational years, and I encountered plenty of young people who were not seeking Christ.
When my husband and I talk about his educational history, he is convinced that he did not become a follower of Christ because of his years in public school, but in spite of them. After five years working in youth ministry, I’ve met countless teens who feel the same way. I’ve also witnessed plenty of teens, who despite their parents’ best attempts at home, have headed down a dark path because of what they encountered while attending public school.
I, on the other hand, can attribute my return to the faith entirely to my experience at an all-girls Catholic high school. I loved my four years at Mary Help of Christians Academy. I made lifelong friends who have been wonderful role models in the faith. With the gentle guidance of the Salesian Sisters and my campus ministers, my faith flourished. I was taught sound theology, learned a variety of different forms of prayer, and discovered the beauty of Christian service. In many ways, I am who I am today because of my time in Catholic school.
I am still very much open to the idea of Catholic school in the future, but it’s not in the cards for us right now. We exist in that awkward place between too poor to pay for Catholic school and too rich to get financial aid. Since Catholic school costs a small fortune nowadays and they don’t give Kindergartners merit-based scholarships, we are left with homeschooling as our only real option. But we really feel that choosing to homeschool our kids is for the best.
Homeschooling allows me to know exactly what my kids are learning. I’m the one teaching them, and I review all the material ahead of time. Our curriculum is Catholic, and I can be sure that my children will only be learning what is good, true, and beautiful. There’s a lot of garbage out there, and I want to know that my kids are being filled with knowledge that will help them on their path to holiness. Homeschooling makes that process much easier.
Our days are also filled with prayer. We begin the day in prayer, attend Daily Mass together a few times a week, and try to pray a decade of the rosary and a Divine Mercy Chaplet every day either at home or in the car during our travels. We celebrate feast days as a family, and school lessons can be moved around to accommodate special parish events and spontaneous prayer opportunities.
Finally, homeschooling helps me to know exactly who my kids are hanging out with. They’re still young, so time with friends still means that I have to tag along too (not that I mind), but I know my kids’ friends, and more importantly, I know their families. We might have different parenting styles, but we all have the faith in common. Our faith unites us, and for many of us, our desire to homeschool our kids brings us together as well. Our kids are all still young, but I can definitely see many of these friendships lasting a lifetime.
People occasionally ask me why I decided to homeschool, and while I have a ton of reasons, the ones linked to our faith are the most important. I know that I can only do so much as a mom, but I will do everything I can to guide my children on the path to sainthood, and then trust God to take care of the rest.