"Parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children… the right and duty of parents to give education is essential… incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others." Pope John Paul II
I’ve been inspired by Tiffany to write my homeschooling testimony.
I believed in the lies of the world! I was a young mother searching for ways to redeem myself to the world. I graduated college in four years with three concentrations and two majors. I sought a high paying job for validation.
I always knew that one parent should stay home with a child. However, that parent should not be me. After all, I had to put my college education to use. Dad supported me, to keep peace in the home. (We were not married at the time.) I was a strong, independent, young female who did not need a man.
I lived in the Monterey area. Dad stood home with Rose and attended college while she was at a co-op (started by homeschool families). I worked in Silicon Valley in the multi-media industry. My work was one hr away from home (with no traffic) and three hrs with commuter traffic. We would all wake up at 4am to drive me to the commuter train station, 30 min away from home. Rose would still be sleeping. My commute in car, train and bus took about two hrs (one way). I would return at the train station around 6:30PM. Dad and Rose would be waiting for me there. We would get home by 7:30pm (on a good day). I always came home to a clean house and had dinner waiting for me. Dad was wonderful! Dad and Rose would tell me all about their adventures of the day. We would spend about 30min in some secular form of family time and then be off to bed. The routine repeated every day for over a year.
During that year, I became depressed. I developed a medical condition that puzzled the doctors. I was told that I was pre-menopausal at the age of 22. I was always irritable and miserable to be around. I began to resent Dad because of all the wonderful memories that he was creating with Rose. In hindsight, I believe I knew that I did not belong outside of the home.
As I’ve said before, my re-conversion takes place on a daily basis. This part in my journey was a profound moment for me in my walk of faith.
After one year and much discernment, Dad and I decided to finally hang-up our personal aspirations. We felt that it was no longer our time to make a path for own desires but that we should be creating a path for Rose. We did not want her to miss any opportunity because we were too busy pursing our own. I followed the tug that the Good Lord was giving me.
I resigned from my job. I wanted to stay home with Rose and to do so meant that we would have to move in with my parents. It was humbling, to say the least.
During this time, Dad asked me, for the umpteenth time, to marry him. I said, YES! I had always said no up until then because my focus was on worldly attainments not being right-ordered in the Lord.
Dad found employment upon our return home and we enrolled Rose in a small private school. It was the same school where she started at the age of four. There were only six kids in her class. She flourished in this highly academic environment. She read far above grade level and was learning French.
My daily schedule (shell) was as follows:
- 8 AM – start school
- 3 PM – pick up Rose from school
- 3:30 PM – home, snack, homework
- 4:00 PM – Catechism and/or sports
- 6:00 PM – dinner
- 7:00 PM – bed time routine, chores, homework, reading, prayer time
- 8:00 PM sleep
I would drop Rose off at school and then find ways to fill the time. Within a couple of months, I found new work as an afternoon PE Teacher. This filled the 10-2 time slot. I would go straight to her school at 2pm to volunteer. Then repeat the schedule. It was daunting.
I would often sit at home in silence on days that I did not have work. I was sad. There was a void. I began to ponder just how little time that I was getting to spend with my daughter. I realized that I was part-time parenting while the school had her for the prime hours of the day. I got the leftovers. It was not at peace with this version of family life.
Time went on and my discontentment grew. In my discernment, I began to reflect on my last days. I asked myself, “If I knew that I (or my daughter) was terminally ill and only had a short time to live, would I choose to continue this part-time parenting or would I choose another option?” My answer was always, I would choose another option. The Good Lord gave me the grace to say, “Why wait! Live as though this was your last day.”
I knew things were going to have to change. I just didn’t know how. I began to search for options. The library was my haven. Eventually, I was lead to a local homeschool support group. I read and read. I also met with some veteran homeschooling moms and devoured audio tracts on homeschooling. Within a short time, I was convicted to take the leap of faith and homeschool Rose.
This was a profound conviction that yielded peace. I had never experienced such conviction in my young life. I trust that it was made possible from the graces received from my recent marital vows.
I sat Dad down to inform him of my call. He was supportive and surprised. After all, it was only a year ago that I was a self-proclaimed Miss. Independent. He did have one reservation. He was concerned that my Type A personality would be too much for Rose and would possibly cause a rift in the family. I took his concern to heart and assured him that I would work on lightening up to better serve Rose. With that, we decided to homeschool.
Start of a Second Vocation
We chose to make the move immediately. After all, I was given the grace to realize that I’m (we all are) called to live today as though it is my (our) last. I did not want to presume that tomorrow would be there.
Dad and I sat Rose down to inform her of the news. I told her, “Rose, mom is going to homeschool you. I will teach you at home.“ Rose melted into tears before I could finish my explanation. She said, in a tear jerking voice, “Mom, I’m so happy that you chose to be with me. I want you to teach me at home!” She kissed me and embraced me so tight that I can still feel her small sweet hands, just thinking about it. It still brings me tears of joy. Deo gratias!
My first official year of homeschooling was in 2002. In retrospect, I was homeschooling Rose from the start. I joined a local protestant homeschooling group since my search for fellow Catholic homeschoolers came up empty. I later learned that many of the Catholic homeschooling families found it too difficult to be outside their homes for fellowship.
I decided that in order to not dramatize Rose with my strict temperament, I would need to make a drastic change. That’s how my unschooling started. I did not want to bring school into my home. I wanted Rose to see that opportunities to learn were all around her. I wanted her to develop a deep love for learning. So, I started schooling with no text books. Our classroom was the outdoors. We would bring all of our treasures back home. I did create a homeschool room, I couldn’t resist. I still have the white board that we started homeschooling with.
More prayers were answered in 2003 when I found Mater Dei, a Catholic homeschool support group. I traveled over 45min to join this group of faithful mothers and children. I remain closely connected with these families. We are all homeschooling through high school.
My homeschooling has changed from year to year. I favor certain material but I’m not attached to any one curriculum or method. Dad and I get the input from the children, we take into consideration our resources and then go before the Blessed Sacrament (as a couple) to discern each school year.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. ~Matthew 6:33
I have always been homeschooling on a budget. There are many years where I haven’t been sure how our needs will be met. It is at those times that I reflect on His call for me to homeschool. I trust that He will not abandon me.
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” ~Matthew 6:25
Dad and I consciously choose to homeschool independently from the public school system (Charter Schools). It is another conviction of ours that I’ll share for another day.
Homeschooling is a vocation for me (and dad). I still doubt my abilities, question my approach, and scrutinize its results. Homeschooling brings me to my knees. I must always remember that I’m “call-ified”. It also helps for me to reflect on our ultimate goal, eternal life.
Here is my family mission that was created at the start of homeschooling (short version).
Live each day as though it were your last, ALL FOR THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD!
In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin. ~ Sirach 7:36
Homeschooling is the best way that I can serve my family, educate my children in our faith, grow in virtue and give Glory to God. I pray to model the Holy Family.
LORD Jesus Christ, who, being made subject to Mary and Joseph, didst consecrate domestic life by Thine ineffable virtues; grant that we, with the assistance of both, may be taught by the example of Thy Holy Family and may attain to its everlasting fellowship. Who livest and reignest forever. Amen.
From the Raccolta # 276, from the Roman Missal (1962). (S. P. Ap., Sept. 3, 1936)