Heaven and Homeschooling

Image: Mi Pham
by Candice Tolentino

When I was an expat in Cincinnati 11 years ago, I met this weird family. They were homeschooling. I mean, would their kids even get a decent job if they didn’t learn from a school? And how would they get accepted in university? And gasp! How will their kids socialize? I thought this family was not only weird. They were cray cray.

Fast forward to 2013, I started my homeschooling journey. Yep. I joined the club of weird, unsocialized homeschoolers. It was, of course, a difficult decision since I was bringing in 2/3 of the household income. But at that point, it was only the financial aspect that was holding us back. The more I read about homeschooling, the more I found no reason to keep my child in a brick-and-mortar school. The more I immersed myself in Theology of the Body, the more I felt the urgency of homeschooling. But it was Canada’s Bill 13 that finally made us jump. If you live in North America and follow real news, then you are probably aware of a) the growing hostility towards the Christian faith and b) the destructive attempt of the left to usurp parental authority. Bill 13 was just the beginning; we are spiraling downwards with Bill 89 and Bill C-16.

Now, this blog post may not convince you to homeschool. Blogs and research wouldn’t have moved me if I hadn’t seen the fruits of homeschooling in other families with my own eyes. That weird family I was talking about? I want my kids to be like their kids in a lot of ways. Are there bad homeschoolers and good public schoolers? I bet ya. But why compare the best of one to the worst of another?

If you are a faithful Catholic and you want your kids to love the faith, you might want to consider how homeschooling helps (A LOT) with that. Now, homeschooling is NOT a guarantee that your kids will NOT turn away from the faith. There are other circumstances that play a role in your child’s faith formation or lack thereof. Having said this, I do believe that it is the parents who are given the grace, by virtue of their sacramental marriage, to raise their children to become faithful Catholics. No other school or youth group can carry this crucial responsibility for you.

(If you want your kids to absorb the pop culture, this is not for you.)

1. When I was working, my kids were spending 30 hours of their prime and most productive time, each week, in school. I was spending 25 hours with them and this included the rushed mornings and post dinner preparations for bed — clearly not the most quality of times. Weekends were for errands and catching up with them. How can we influence our kids if time is not on our side? Jesus had to spend all day with his (adult) disciples and still, they were confused about who he was (save Peter). Why would I expect that anything less will give me time to be a positive influence on my children?

2. Books. If there’s anything I regret about not being homeschooled, it was that I didn’t have the time to read the classics in a leisurely way. There are things that only good stories can teach our children. There is just no substitute. That’s why Jesus spoke to the people in parables. If I have to prepare my child for a standardized test day in and out, how can we make time for books that teach virtue and courage? In our public schools here, they don’t teach the classics anymore. It’s no wonder critical thinking is on the decline.

3. I can prioritize teaching the faith to my kids. I can talk about sensitive issues with them. We can live the faith from breakfast to dinner. Now, try going to your public school and see how they handle the topic of gender identity and abortion, and then tell them what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Good luck.

4. If for any reason the morning is stressful and I’ve been horribly grumpy, I don’t have to wait for my daughter to come home from school before I could say sorry and have a heart-to-heart talk. Hugs can readily be given and received. This has made huge difference in my relationship with my daughter. We can hit pause during the day and talk about things that really matter.

5. People say that kids need to be in school so that they can “shine” a light there and bring Jesus to other kids. How could they do that if they are not equipped and trained? You don’t expose a seedling to a harsh environment until you have nourished them and made sure they’ve taken root. Deep roots. Recall that Jesus had to spend three years with his disciples before he told them to “Go out to all the nations and spread the good news.” And these were adult men: men who, after all those miracles and teaching, abandoned Jesus (except for John the Beloved) during His most distressing hour.

6. They have time for interest-based learning. Google it.

7. With homeschooling, you can allow boys to be boys.

I’m sure you can find more sophisticated and more academic-related reasons via the internet. You can even read about socialization issues, if you are so inclined. Or, you can read this: We can’t save the public school system. We can only save our children from it.

Lastly, let me leave you with these verses. They have opened my heart to homeschooling and carried me through moments of doubt.

Matt 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

Matt 19: 14 “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

If the kingdom of heaven belongs to my little ones, what could be more important than pursuing and seeking their hearts first?

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