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Why I Started Homeschooling

Why I Started Homeschooling

 
By:  Mary Masterson November 12, 2020
#AmazingNation, #Encouragement, #love, #Wisdom

About 20 years ago I read a short story, Light on the Mountain, by John S. Kennedy. The story is about Our Lady appearing to two shepherd children in the rural town of La Salette, France. It is a wonderful recounting of the love Our Lady has for her children. However, what struck me the most about the story was that the two shepherd children who saw Our Lady and spread her message will never be considered saints. This was incredible to me. How could this be? They spoke with Our Lady and helped the surrounding communities realize they needed to repent and turn their hearts back to God. In addition, the children began to have daily catechism lessons, attend daily mass, and pray the rosary daily. So how could they not be considered for canonization? I began to reflect on my own children and how much my husband and I were doing to prepare their souls for eternity. Were we giving our children a daily catechism lesson? Were we attending mass more than our Sunday obligation? Were we faithfully praying a daily rosary? The answer to all three of these questions was, “No”. But I also knew that just doing these things would not be enough, for we were being called to something more. God was calling us to have our faith saturate every moment of every day. The next question I had was, “How was God asking me and my husband to do this?” We decided to pray a daily rosary to Our Lady of La Salette with thirty days of petition and thirty days of thanksgiving asking for Our Blessed Mother to show us what to do. About half-way into the thirty days of petition, we knew beyond doubt that God was asking us to homeschool our children. After nineteen years of homeschooling, God has shown me that the greatest fruit has nothing to do with academics, it has to do with a way of life.

 

The Start of Something New
Our fifth child was born on August 27, 2002. This was the year we decided to start homeschooling. Very quickly, I realized that my ideas of children quietly sitting at the kitchen table working on various subjects while I cared for a newborn and toddler needed to be adjusted. My children learned best with one-on-one time and having me really go over the subject at hand. Trying to do this with three children was really not a way to bring any of us closer to God. I needed to change my priorities for school and ask my school-age children to help me with their younger siblings and housework. I reminded myself that we felt called to homeschool so that our faith would become more integrated into our daily life. So what did this mean for academics? I needed to prioritize the subjects I felt my kids had to do without fail every day. So I came up with the 4 R’s: Religion, Reading, Arithmetic, and Writing. Because religion has the first priority every day, the children have learned that a deep knowledge of our faith is of primary importance. In addition to adjusting our academics, I also needed to adjust caring for my home. I simply did not have time to do all of my chores in addition to schooling the children. After talking with wiser and more experienced homeschool moms, I divided up my household chores between my older children and myself. I taught my oldest child how to start a load of laundry and my second oldest how to put it into the dryer. I relied frequently on my third oldest child to play with and entertain my toddler. I also taught my two oldest children how to bake brownies or cake from a mix. At the time, I was just looking for a little help, but over the years I realized that I was teaching my children how to put their religion lessons into practice. They were forming habits of serving and caring for others.


By fostering a sense of service within our own family, it was easy to show the children that service to our parish and neighborhood was also an important part of daily life. At church, our sons have enjoyed helping with mass by serving at the altar, lectoring, and helping care for the church grounds. The pastor also knows he can count on our children for help any time as we have impressed upon them that whenever anyone asks for help, especially a priest, our answer is always a resounding, “Yes”. We have tried to teach our children that it isn’t always easy to ask for help and to try to anticipate the needs of others by offering help before being asked. We have seen our children on their own initiative do just this if they see a neighbor who might need help with yard work or anything else. As we have all grown in our faith together, my husband and I also remind the children that they have been given a tremendous gift by God. They know that they are loved beyond telling. Most people do not know this and so we have tried to teach our children that part of their responsibility as a follower of Christ is to let whomever they meet know this by their actions as well as their words.

I could never imagine that reading one story could have such an impact on my life and that of my family’s. I also could never imagine that deciding to homeschool could change the way we lived our daily life. God wants us to have a living, breathing faith. For our family, homeschooling has been the means to this end. I am truly grateful to God.

 

Photo Credits:
"Coptic Catholic Mass" by Chaoyue Pan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
<https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
"Mom Tested Family Approved Homeschool" by Simply Vicki is licensed under CC BY 2.0



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