Maybe Homeschooling Isn't For Me?



My oldest is now approaching Kindergarten age and, honestly, I am getting cold feet about the whole homeschooling thing. Sending him to a Catholic school nearby is oh-so-tempting. Even though I'm drawn to it, the whole homeschool thing is very daunting to me -- especially since he is a typical boy that doesn't love sitting still and learning his letters. HOW do you homeschool young kids?


I honestly believe that homeschooling is almost a vocation. Which means, like marriage and the priesthood, it is a good and holy thing that isn't for everyone. If you are meant to be a homeschooler, your heart will be restless until you make the leap of faith and do it. But if you are meant to be a missionary into the school system, then homeschooling is going to be a bad choice for you. (I say ALMOST a vocation because, of course, things can change and while I know I'm meant to homeschool THIS YEAR, things might change and that's okay.)

You need to pray about it and follow your gut, knowing that you can always change your mind, year by year, or even mid-year.

But know that homeschooling is NOT a requirement for good Catholics. Some of us have to be out there in the public schools and the parish schools volunteering and interacting and complaining and influencing and being visible. And people who say that homeschooling is the ONLY choice for God-fearing Catholics because of x, y, and z are mistaking their own personal vocation for a universal requirement and they should cut it out.

As for homeschooling itself, if you're meant to do it, or need to do it because of circumstances, of COURSE you can do it! It's going to come more easily to some moms than to others, but I'm convinced that anyone who feels that homeschooling is the best option for her family CAN successfully homeschool.

When my oldest started Kindergarten, I had him in preschool two days a week, and we did two days a week of homeschool, and we took Fridays off. Our homeschool days lasted less than an hour, during the baby's morning nap. The first couple years are REALLY low stakes, and I found them to be really manageable.

I've never had much pushback on schooling, probably mostly because Jack was excited to do it, and the others have followed his lead. But for my kids who are, let's say, not SUPER excited to do it, I just try to keep a really positive outlook and be consistent about when and how we do school, so there is always the expectation that this is just what we do and there's no use complaining.

I keep each subject REALLY short, 3-5 minutes on each thing, then maybe 10 minutes on 100 Easy Lessons for reading/phonics. We just do the lesson part, not the handwriting. We do handwriting in a different book.

I think the very most important part of homeschooling (and ANY parenting in general, no matter the schooling) is that I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them . . . and they can recognize that. Secondly, I'm consistent about having school time and completing our schoolwork each week. It has been a good strategy for us, but that's probably more of a family culture decision. Maybe other family homeschools thrive on flexibility and more of a child-led approach.

The most painful lesson I have learned over eight years of homeschooling, is: what I do doesn't really matter nearly as much as I thought. All the stuff I was in a raging panic over, all the stuff I had my kids in tears over, none of it was in my control to begin with. Especially with learning to read. I've had two that didn't learn to read well until second grade, one after three years of tears and shouting and accusations and misery, and one after basically being neglected for a school year because I was really, really sick. Both started reading in second grade, just fine. It wasn't up to me, that was just when they were going to learn to read.

I know this seems like a HUGE decision, but really, it isn't. Any schooling decision you make will have its good parts and bad parts. There's no perfect solution, just the thing that's going to work best for your family this year.


Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or a child psychologist or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.