Finding the Courage to Homeschool

As the tropical storm Isaiah pounded Maryland yesterday, I couldn’t help but think, it never rains… but it pours! Last week, Cale Clark at Relevant Radio asked me to chat with him about St. Martha on the Cale Clarke Show. Two days later, Paola Ciskanik at the Catholic Homeschool Conference asked if I would send in a bonus talk for the Jump Start Your Homeschool event, which is tomorrow (8/6/20).

My talk is about Finding the Courage to Homeschool, because I know so many of you are anxious about this coming school year. There are so many uncertainties, so many unknowns. Who knows how long schools will be forced into distance-learning? And I know many of you are wondering, Can I homeschool? Should I homeschool? How am I going to manage?

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Is Homeschooling a Cross?

Once in a while I come across an article where a mom waxes eloquently about the awesomeness of her homeschool. I read about rocket-science experiments, kids reading college-level books, siblings living in beautiful harmony, fabulous field trips, morning baskets full of art and literature enrichment, and peaceful, well-ordered days. 

There was a time when such articles filled me with inspiration and enthusiasm. But twelve years in, I confess,  such articles usually makes me cringe. Homeschooling, for us, is not nearly so picture perfect.  Some days we have a lot of complaining, a lot of bickering, a lot of tears. School is more work than fun. And there are many days when I feel overworked and stressed.  So when I read about another mom’s homeschool awesomeness, I can’t help but wonder: Is she still in the honeymoon stage? Or, I am doing something fundamentally wrong?

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Why I Choose to Homeschool

With the days of summer coming to an end, I am sure some of you (myself included) are bracing yourselves for another year of homeschooling. Every August I find myself wondering how I will ever teach multiple subjects to multiple kids, juggle the piles of grading and laundry, get my kids to their many activities, cook decent meals, pay the bills, etc., etc., all with a very active, curious toddler in tow. No wonder the end of summer is always accompanied with apprehension!

How timely, then, is this post by Amy Arrowsmith, a recent Catholic convert and new-comer to the world of homeschooling. You know what I love about converts and newbies? Their idealism and fervour, their newly-opened eyes to God’s incredible love, and their high hopes. If you’ve been homeschooling for a year or two or five or more, your spiritual vision might be dulled and your enthusiasm jaded by the daily grind of educating your kids. Still nursing the scars of last-year’s battle wounds, you might have a lot of misgivings about another year of homeschooling. I encourage you to read Amy’s post, which I hope you will find refreshing and inspiring. Educating our children at home is truly a noble calling and an amazing privilege. May you begin this year with hope and anticipation for all the good that God will do with us and through us!

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curricula This Year (2018 – 2019)

It’s spring! Time to start planning for the coming school year. In years past, I used to spend hours browsing home school curricula. This year, with our second teen heading to highschool in the fall, there isn’t that much browsing to do. We’re pretty much sticking to the stuff that we know has worked for us in the past. For those of you who are deciding on curricula, here is a list of our favorite books from this year:

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Should I Homeschool? One Mom’s Discernment

Last spring I met a young mom, Elizabeth,  at a homeschooling conference.  Her oldest was not yet of school age, but she was thinking about homeschooling.  Here Elizabeth shares her insights on the prospect of homeschooling:

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Screwtape Intercepted: An Angelic Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2

I hope you enjoyed last week’s Screwtape Letter for a Homeschool Mom #2. Screwtape is a nasty one, isn’t he? You’ll be glad to know that Bitterwench never did get the letter because, just like last time,  Martha’s vigilant Guardian Angel intercepted it. Here is Archangel Gabriel’s advice to Angel Fairlight:

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Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today

Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:

George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison,  Robert Frost,  32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.

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“Do You Love Homeschooling? Or Do You Homeschool Because You Have to?”

That’s a question a friend asked me last spring. I think I gave her a most unsatisfactory answer, something along the lines of: Well, it depends on the day.  

It seems to me that more and more parents feel as if they have no choice but to home school. Some parents feel compelled to homeschool in order to provide religious and moral instruction. Others are concerned about the safety of school environments or the quality of education their children would otherwise be receiving. In any case, the number of homeschooled children has been increasing. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that about 1, 096,000 children were homeschooled. By 2013, that number increased by over 60% to approximately 1,770,000, which is 3.4% of  school-aged children. So we know that many parents feel obliged to homeschool, but do they love homeschooling?

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How to Avoid Homeschooling Burn Out – Part I

When I was a highschool teacher, I noticed that many teachers would burn out by February. Being a highschool teacher was challenging but it was not nearly as difficult (or rewarding) as homeschooling. In my experience, homeschool burn-out was not something that only happened in the month of February. When my kids were really little, I was often burnt out even by the end of the day!

Granted  I no longer have any toddlers or nursing babies. I can actually sleep at night, and that makes a world of difference. But over the years, I have  also learned that avoiding burn-out really begins at the start of the school year. Here are some tips about managing the school part of homeschooling:

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