A number of years ago, when I was in elementary and secondary schools, life was far simpler. National defense simple involved putting all the wagons in a circle, the dog would rarely eat my homework, since it was done on the back of a shovel and going to the public school meant simply walking two miles each way each day, uphill, through the snow. While I attended parochial schools in places one or two towns away, I was, in my memory, one of the few kids in my village who did not attend public schools.
Homeschooling Over Time
The responsiblehomeschooling.org website was used as a basis for the research and information presented in this article. It is the web-based arm of the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit organization created to advocate for homeschooled children. Homeschooling began in the 1970s as a response to the belief held by many that the basic school system, as it was then understood, was in place to produce compliant employees.
Homeschooling had growing pains as it went from humble beginnings to nearly 1.7 million students by the 2016 year. That statistic gave me pause to consider that in every village, every town, county, state and country in the world, every child is “homeschooled”. Not in academics, but certainly in the social mores of their society, nation, clan, or family.
What Are We Teaching?
Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness,forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. the home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of alltrue freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensionsto interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them (CCC 2223 ).
Our home schools are, or at least should be, where love is shown, more than “taught”, as an example, between parents who may simply dance with each other, without words, to a favorite song on the radio no matter who may be around. The love which flows freely between parents as they hug randomly, kiss on the way by each other, and say “please, thank you, and I love you”.
Love is shown as being unconditional as it flows to and from the children to and from the parents. Love blooms between siblings as they practice what they have been shown. Certainly, disputes on the level of a major military action will arise between siblings, but, it is dealt with and dissipates quickly when they are reminded to respond in love, not anger.
Add Some Numbers to This…
As a youngster, I had been told frequently that marriage was a 50-50 proposal. Even as a child, I reasoned that this could not be correct. If I bring 50% to the marriage and I take 50% from it, there is nothing left, ever. However, if each parent brings 60% and takes only 40% back, then eventually, the container will overflow. This overflow is the love in which the children are raised. As they grow, if they bring 55 or 60% to the relationship and only take 40 or 45%, eventually, that container will overflow as well.
When that container begins to overflow, that excess love, if you will, is the love to be shared with the village, town, county, state, and so on. A couple of examples may be of some value. The kids are asked to scan their rooms for serviceable toys that they no longer use, check them for condition and to make certain that all the important pieces and parts are there, and then, they can call the children’s ward at the local hospital to see if they would accept the toys and schedule a time and day to bring them to the facility. Another option would be to bring the toys to an orphanage, either way, they are making a difference without much more than an investment of time and care.
Perhaps the three kids in this hypothetic family could donate $3 each from their allowance or savings, along with $5 o $6 from the parents and go to the dollar store to buy some personal hygiene products for the homeless. Put those items one each in paper bags, add a bottle of water and perhaps a sandwich and bring them to the homeless in the afternoon, and share a smile and a kind word with these people – love at a very low cost that can make someone’s day a bit easier.
Check with one or two parishes in the area, one of them may have a program similar to the sandwich for the homeless program already in place and the kids could spend a couple of hours volunteering to help make the food, etc. A parish near us in Texas had a program called the Mobile Loaves and Fishes which, by the time we had left the area, was taking several hundred sandwiches per weekend to the homeless in Austin.
What We Must Not Teach…
The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being intosolidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies (CCC 2224).
Hatred in any form and in any scale. For example, while at dinner, a parent says, “I had a run-in today with one of those_________ ( add any race, religion, whatever ) and as far as I can tell they are all alike, they are all drains on society and never do their part in anything”.
On Thursday, on the way back from soccer practice, Dad and the kids see a young woman from their church stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire. Dad stops and changes the tire for the woman. As luck would have it, he and the kids are on their way back from the store on Saturday and they see a young ______________ with her kids outside of the car with a flat, and Dad drives by, “I don’t feel safe helping a ____________ with you kids in the car.”
Which homeschool do your kids attend?