My husband and I were both blessed to have had excellent education when we were growing up and we wanted that for our children. We understood that having an education that was steeped in a Catholic worldview, along with instruction in the faith itself, provided us with the tools we needed to build a good life. Some say this is an old-fashioned education but I fail to see the benefits of the innovations that have taken its place. First and foremost, we need to understand our place in the universe and the meaning of our existence. We root ourselves not only in our Catholic faith, but in history and great literature as well as math and science. Modern education has moved away from all that, producing a generation that is disconnected from previous generations, blissfully oblivious to centuries of Western Culture. Embarrassed by our riches, we now apologize for acknowledging the achievements of our forebears. Our country welcomes and benefits from citizens of many backgrounds, but the principals on which it was founded are drawn from Western civilization.
As I mentioned yesterday, we became disillusioned by the public school system – not that it was horrific, but it did not provide what we were seeking for our children. After years of reading about the eccentric or fanatic folks who homeschooled their children, I decided to join their ranks. I had read about homeschooling for years and it always appealed to me in a certain way. But with five young children, the prospect of spending ALL DAY with them was daunting. I never got my housework done as it was. Still, I loved the idea of providing them with a really classical education.
I had already joined a couple of Catholic mothers online groups, which included many homeschooling moms. They seemed to love it. And some of them were amazing. It’s like anything else, I guess. You look up “how to bake a cake,” and you innocently land on Martha Stewart, who shows you something spectacular and it looks easy enough… So, we jumped in and enjoyed somewhat mixed results at first. We purchased a curriculum and books and forged ahead. (Our eldest was not homeschooled. He was in grade 7, which is the first year of high school here. He was at a Jesuit boys school. I will discuss the high schools in Part 3.)
Over the five years that I spent homeschooling, I made numerous curriculum changes, trying to find something that fit our family well. I had trouble finding the balance from the dream scenario I wished I could offer and the reality of my own temperament and background. Despite that, it was generally a positive experience and the children did end up with the foundation that I had hoped to impart. Definitely could have done better with Math and French, but it all worked out. The plan was to send them all to private Catholic schools for high school, and all of them passed their entrance exams and got admitted, so I guess we did alright.
In Part 3, I will discuss our high school experiences. Please join me tomorrow.