This is such a loaded question and one I am hit with all the time.
Quickly followed by the usual questions:
Are you a teacher yourself?
How can you be sure you are meeting all their academic needs?
What about their socialisation?
Depending on my mood, I either:
a) Dress my children in “school-type” uniforms during the day so we don’t get asked
b) Quickly change the subject or
c) I take a deep breath and recite the litany of homeschool apologetics – carefully in a point-by-point manner refuting each point, citing literature reviews and academic analysis while keeping my face in a permanent engaging smile so as not to give anyone the least impression it is anything but easy to take on this task.
If we move past point (c) and the listener’s eyes haven’t glazed over, I may follow this up with many anecdotal tales of our own and others.. those rare moments we all hope to have more of where we see the decision we have made is genuinely benefitting our children.
Generally after being hit with the full force of my zeal and charisma the person either:
a) Changes the subject
b) Give excuses for why they don’t homeschool
c) Smiles politely and (a)
Thus I vacillate between zeal and apathy.. all the while continuing to do what I think is God’s will for our family.
And that is essentially the answer when I ask myself this same question..
Why DO I homeschool?
I could just as well ask myself, “Why do I love my husband?” I could tell you all about how we met. I could list all his qualities, the great laughs we have, all the empirical evidence to show how life long commitment between one man and one woman is better for your health, even regale you with anecdotes, but fundamentally I would have to say because it is God’s will.
That doesn’t mean all those reasons are not important. It is just that ultimately they don’t give you the strength to live out God’s plan for your life, or your family’s life.
So we prayed. A lot. We met other Catholic families who homeschool. We vacillated between one option and the other. We did our research. We prayed more. We took the leap. We never enrolled our son in Pre-school despite having previously camped out overnight the year before to ensure his name was down at the best one in our area. We didn’t go down the school path. And now he is in Year 6. We always take things a year at a time. We still pray a lot. We still meet other Catholic families who homeschool. We still vacillate between one option and the other.
Parenting and worry are synonymous so along with all the usual worries, I also absorb a lot of the societal worries that go with doing something out of the box. I could not have continued to do this if I didn’t think it was God’s will.
So I do worry about whether we have made the right decision. I do worry about not being a trained teacher, I do worry about their socialisation especially not having been blessed with a large family we have to make extra efforts to engage with other children.
It’s just that despite all the worries, I know in my heart that this is what God wills for our family.
I am not a spiritual director nor have I ever been the lucky recipient of regular spiritual direction. My biggest spiritual direction on this decision to homeschool comes from the teachings of the Church about education, personal reflection and my amazing husband.
So many times I have doubted what we are doing, and his encouragement, working alongside me at the coalface with a big smile and a listening ear, and even a pat on the head as I have a good whinge about homeschooling has made the most amazing difference to why we do this.
Boy do I have a LOT to say about all the reasons for why we homeschool, but let me start by restating the fundamental reason.
It is God’s will for us.