So, after prayer and discernment you are thinking of homeschooling, but may not know where to start.
We know trying to figure out how to start homeschooling can be daunting. You may not even know what questions to ask. That is why we have gathered a few testimonies of how some of our member families started homeschooling. Hopefully this will spark some ideas for where to start, as well as provide a boost of confidence to realize you can do it. You love your children the most and you will find what is best for them; homeschooling opens unique opportunities to do so.
If these testimonies help you start formulating some questions, or you would just like to talk to someone, don't hesitate to contact us. We will put you in contact with one of our members to offer support and guidance. Also, be sure to check our Resources page. There are links to homeschooling information from the states in the Memphis and surrounding area. We also have a list of some of the most popular Catholic curriculum providers.
Note: The Catholic Homeschooling Conference is currently going on (June 25th-June 27th, 2020).
Looking forward to hearing from you!
The reason my wife and I started talking about homeschooling was due to our interest after talking to a coworker about his experience being homeschooled. Neither of us had experience with homeschooling, but we loved the idea of being the primary educators of our children fully hands-on.
Starting to homeschool definitely seemed like a big undertaking. When we started with our oldest, we chose Seton due to their centralized grading and record keeping, as well as the lesson plans they provide with their curriculum. Since we didn't know where to start, we figured using their lesson plans and centralized record keeping would provide a buffer as we got our feet wet.
After the first year of homeschooling, we decided to expand and modify some things (although still keeping most things from Seton) to personalize our children's education. After 4 years, we mix and match different educational options that provide what we think is best for our children at this point.
If your family decides to homeschool, there are ways to help transition and provide the best for your children. And know that you are not "stuck" with a curriculum once you choose it.
When our oldest was 4, we took a leap of faith, reducing our income by half in order for me to stay home with our growing family. And we have been blessed abundantly!
Our first year was so fun! - songs, games, LOTS of books, field trips. During this time, I researched the numerous Catholic curricula available. It's a blessing to have variety, but also overwhelming!
When we found Schola Rosa, it was perfect for our family: classical, flexible, hands-on, includes classic educational resources, Latin and Greek, memorization, interweaves subjects together, teaches Catholic culture including chant and liturgical living, and - our favorite part - allows our children to do 7-8 subjects TOGETHER! Just like a traditional one-room schoolhouse, we begin most subjects together, regardless of age, then I oversee the group as each child works on an age-appropriate activity from the lesson. Each week, the family also focuses on a virtue, learning and practicing together.
Homeschooling requires adjustment to your rhythm of living, and we attempt to ingrain education into our natural daily lives. We keep a garden, sing chant at breakfast, listen to audio books while folding laundry, and children read aloud while I prepare meals. We live our days to a rough schedule of pray-chores-eat-study-rest-repeat.
Some homeschooling days are stressful, but some days would be stressful no matter where our children went to school. For us, homeschooling is a beautiful lifestyle that we are able to center around our family, praying, working, and studying together.
We are a Navy family and have moved a dozen times in thirty years. My older daughters (now 24 and 26) would alternate between public and Catholic schools depending on the quality of the schools. I would always volunteer or work in the schools as well.
Schools have changed over time. When my youngest daughter was in fourth grade, my concerns with the quality of her education, the teacher and the atmosphere began to grow. We moved her to Catholic school and there was improvement, such as the student/teacher ratio was cut by half and the children were more respectful. I served as a substitute teacher in the school and my disillusionment grew.
I had recently left a job, developed friendships with many large, homeschooling, Catholic families, and heard the Lord call me to homeschool. It took a leap of faith because we are military and our tendency is the follow the known rules. Homeschooling was outside the box!
Our compromise in this was to choose an accredited curriculum that covered all my concerns of being academically challenging, yet promoting our Catholic faith. She began Seton Home Study School in 6th grade (three years now). We will continue through high school.
Homeschooling has been a joy. We have MUCH less stress than with the older girls’ education. We love being able to go to Mass during the week, freedom to school anywhere, and grow in faith, hope and charity.
I didn't want to homeschool. Homeschooling was my husband's first choice, but I wanted to send our children to Catholic School. We visited several Catholic elementary schools but didn't find what we were looking for, so I reluctantly agreed to give homeschooling a try. I am especially grateful to the experienced homeschooling moms who reassured me that Kindergarten is low stakes. Read to your child. Play with your child. Spend time outdoors. You really can't screw up Kindergarten.
The advice I would give new homeschoolers is twofold. First, decide what is non-negotiable in your family. Second, follow your child's interests and talents. In the early grades, it's important to develop solid reading and arithmetic skills, because everything in the future will build upon these basic skills. Beyond that, it's a matter of opinion. It's easy to get overwhelmed, because it's impossible to do everything, so you as the parent get to decide what is most important.
I do not love homeschooling, but I have kept at it because I knew in my heart that it was the best option for our family. I knew that God was calling me to do this. Nevertheless, it took a pandemic for me to truly appreciate why we homeschool.
It's ok to be unsure. It's ok to be afraid. It's ok to take it just one year at a time. If God is calling you to homeschool your children, He will equip you with everything you need to be successful.
We never “officially” started homeschooling--it was a natural outgrowth of parenting an inquisitive first child. Montessori-inspired activities gradually evolved into topical studies, which further evolved into formal reading, math, spelling, and grammar, with history and science taught through living books.
When our fourth son reached pre-kindergarten, I realized I had too many ages and stages to maintain the history and science heavy curriculum I had so carefully put together, so we transitioned to Memoria Press. My children enjoy the feeling of mastery as they learn Latin and Greek and dive deeply into different subject areas. The older ones appreciate knowing what is expected of them and when, thereby learning to take ownership of their own learning and schedule and work more independently, I appreciate a guide for what I should reasonably expect from different ages in terms of understanding and workload, and we all enjoy the well-chosen read-alouds. My oldest are thriving in MP’s online Latin courses and looking forward to live online discussion groups for literature and history.
The set curriculum also allows for a common intellectual culture in our home, with older children fondly remembering and joining in read-alouds from previous years and talking with their siblings about subjects or books they have each read separately during their own studies. Incorporating our faith into our schoolwork is seamless. We are able to discuss Church history, virtue, the saints, the Bible, and the Mass naturally as these topics come up in literature, history, science, music, and Latin.
We started our homeschooling journey knowing a successful homeschool family and admiring their family life. We knew that homeschooling could be an option if our public school was not working for us. At the end of kindergarten, we ended up hurt and frustrated with the teacher and administration.
We then started Homeschooling with the complete system from Seton Home Study School: Books, tests, graders, record keeping, and the works. We struggled to finish, due to having to hold our son’s hand to finish assignments. There was a lot of detailed reading which required help and explanations. We had to deal with feelings about being home and not with his class from last year. And just generally adjusting to working our life around home school with 3 young kids at home.
We had our son tested after 1st grade and identified focus and dyslexia obstacles. We struggled again through 2nd grade with Seton and through church was introduced to a mom who raised and taught 3 dyslexic sons. She gave me good advice: change curriculum to better work with his abilities. We went with Catholic Heritage Curricula (gentler, less reading, more bite sized). She also introduced us to SMILA (summer program), which we have used for all 3 kids. We use Math U See for our 2 boys and found Life of Fred better fits our daughter, and everyone loves listening to it.
After 5 years of homeschool and learning, we have confidence in ourselves and also knowing our children to be able to make changes as needed for each child and our family life. We have used outside resources like an art class from an Art Studio, Cordova Tutorial, and The Connection for a writing class to help fill in gaps of our teaching abilities.
We started thinking about homeschooling before we were Catholic and before we had kids. I had taught high school math for several years—first at a boarding school and then at a Jewish private school. Much of my teaching at the boarding school was in one-on-one classes, and it was clear to me that there was a lot of potential with such a low student-to-teacher ratio. So far along now, it’s hard to remember all the reasons that led us to take this route, but a big part of it was the flexibility.
Until then, I hadn’t really thought much about homeschooling. I’d only met one person in my life who had been homeschooled. My husband and I were both educated in public schools from first grade all the way through high school. Before having children, I think we both assumed that’s what our kids would do as well. I have three younger sisters who are about ten years younger than me, and I’d witnessed some of the changes in public education (not for the better, mostly) in the very same schools I’d attended. Once we had our own kids and had to give it serious thought, we realized that we had reservations about public schools and couldn’t afford private school. So it was a number of different factors that led us to the decision to do it ourselves. Each educational choice involves trade-offs. You gain something and you lose something no matter which way you go. Obviously, we feel like the advantages of homeschooling outweigh any disadvantages, or else we would not have stuck with it for so long.
Over the years, there have been many cases where our kids have needed much less time to master material than would have been required in a traditional setting, and there have many cases where they needed or wanted to spend more time on a particular topic. This flexibility has been a major reason we have continued to homeschool. They have the freedom to volunteer at various times during the day, or attend Mass, or visit any of the four libraries our family has cards for to do research for a paper, or attend presentations at a local college, all without needing to fit it inside the confines of a strictly defined schedule. This way, they can also spend a lot of time with their siblings, who are usually studying something completely different. In conversation, therefore, everyone can bring something interesting to the table (literally as well as metaphorically). Now that we have just our last child left homeschooling, we can see the advantages through time to our children having had mostly the same curriculum as each other as youngsters. They love many of the same things, and we could integrate faith into their days without it feeling like an add-on or irrelevant.
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Special mention to thank the work of Lawrence OP.
Blessed Sacrament Homeschool Group, here to support Catholic homeschooling in the Memphis, TN metro area.