Yes, I Still Plan to Homeschool Next Year
By Emily Crawford
|The Crawford Family & Friends|
This year, it seems to me, has been a defining year for homeschooling for my family. You see, as my children have gotten older, my confidence about homeschooling has waned. Not because of curriculum or socialization. Not because of the day-to-day challenges with homeschooling (and there are many). No, the real reason was because many of our homeschooling friends are putting their kids in school, and the scary question, “Am I doing right by my kids?” has resurfaced. I know this is an ironic question, considering my husband is the head of a homeschool company. But, when I see everyone leaving for what seems like greener pastures the discerning question becomes, “Should I leave, too?”
As my heart began weighing these thoughts and I tried, albeit not well, to pray for clarity, I found myself leaning back on the reasons for why we decided to homeschool in the first place: faith; family; and education.
The order we placed our reasons for homeschooling is significant. Education isn’t our primary reason. Family isn’t our primary reason. The primary reason we homeschool is our faith.
We live in a culture that claims to be Christian. Yet, the most fundamental things we believe as Catholics are being challenged daily, especially in our schools. Schools have become social experiments for political correctness, tolerance, and gender identity. When we squeezed out prayer to make the few feel respected, our teachers have increasingly lost their ability to reason about the true, the good, and the beautiful with their students. No longer can they point to God in all things. So what can they point to? What do I want them to point my children to?
Faith. The unequivocal truth in a loving God who made my children for a specific purpose. He has made them to love, know, and serve Him. They are loved and valued because He created them and because He made them in His image and His likeness. They have a Savior who has redeemed them. His Church is the ark that will carry them to Heaven. He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist. He loves us deeply through His mother’s intercession. Life is valuable from the moment of conception to a natural death. All that we have and all that we are and will be is because of Him.
I know they will never receive these truths in public schools. They should be able to receive Truth in Catholic schools. It seems even some of our Catholic schools have become battlegrounds for our children’s hearts and minds. And unfortunately, for many - including our family, Catholic schools are financially out of reach, especially if we choose to stay home with our children.
Our family is the second reason we have chosen to homeschool. Our culture and our education system have taken away the value of the family. I read an article this last winter by Julie Machado at Catholic Stand called “Homeschooling and Over-Schooling.”, which speaks to the primary goal of homeschooling – to get our children to Heaven. In the middle of the article Julie points to an unscripted speech by Pope St. John Paul II where he said, “everything exists for the family: different environments, societies, peoples, cultures, social life, economic life … not at the expense of the family.” This one line sums up how I feel. Everything should exist for the family, not at the expense of the family. But do our schools really think about the family when they promulgate alternative world views with questionable science? Do they encourage selflessness or self-preservation, egoism, and individualism?
With homeschooling, we experience what it means to be the domestic church. That means we learn to live in community; love the good, the bad, and the ugly; forgive; pray together, eat together, and play together; work together; learn to put others’ needs before our own and to depend on others strengths when are our weaknesses prevail. To put is simply, we are a family. Can modern schools teach this to our children?
Finally, the reason I homeschool is for education. With Common Core reinventing how our children should think and learn, standardized testing competing with real learning, and feelings and opinions educating minds away from reason and logic, then, homeschooling becomes the only viable option for my family.
I don’t blame the educators for these problems. I blame the bureaucrats who think they know how to educate better than local schools and families.
I also don’t pretend to know it all or to have the ability to be everything for my children. I know I cannot recreate a Harvard education for my kids. However, that’s not my goal and it never has been. Thankfully, there are co-ops, tutors, DVDs, and online choices like Homeschool Connections that can help me with the overwhelming task of educating my kids. And what’s even more reassuring, it’s their education. It runs at their level of mastery. It’s designed by me, a loving parent, who has her children's best interests in mind to guide them in their strengths and help them in their weaknesses. And, hopefully, it’s implemented in such a way, though imperfectly, that my children are given the tools and the desire to learn.
What’s the verdict? Despite all the friends who are leaving homeschooling to place their kids in school, when I lean on the three reasons of faith, family, and education, I know that the decision to homeschool is the right one for our family, and I can say with confidence, “Yes, we still plan on homeschooling next year.”
Emily Crawford is a homeschooling mom (starting her 10th year in the fall) of 5 great children and a proud wife to Walter Crawford, co-founder of Homeschool Connections. She is a Texas Aggie Catholic revert who is passionate about serving others in her parish and in her community and in living out the new evangelization in the domestic church. When she’s not teaching children, doing laundry, singing in the shower, and dreaming about decorating and the perfect household management system, she enjoys drinking coffee, reading a good book, and spending time with family and friends.