Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

4/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

How Do You Do It?

The important lesson here is to seek God's plan for the education of your children, not your mom's or your father-in-law's plan. Once He plants the seed of your vocation in your heart, nurture it and protect against discouragement by others who have another vocation. You are fully capable of fulfilling this call and you'll receive sufficient grace to do so. Yes, He'll even give you the grace to endure having to administer 6 different tests on the same day while rocking the baby on your left hip as your 4 year old feeds you a play dough hamburger.

Highlights

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/3/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: home school, vocation, discernment, Tara K. E. Brelinsky


ZEBULLON, NC (Catholic Online) - How do you do it? The question you are sure to be asked when you tell someone new that you home school your children. Be it the curious customer standing behind you in the grocery store line or cousin Ed at the family reunion, someone, or better yet someones, are going to want to know if you are actually sane enough to make such a choice and they'll test your mental stability by asking for an explanation. If he's in close proximity, they'll probably also quiz little Johnny on his ABC capabilities and his grasp of the American system of democracy. Be ready.

Having home schooled my children for twelve years now, the query has been invoked countless times. Then, when our oldest was finishing his 8th grade year, the question shifted to the subject of high school because even though we'd managed to that point to raise and educate a small clan, for some reason, high school had the stigma of being a whole new world in the learning department.

I remember high school. It was a whole new world, but not necessarily for the reasons the inquisitors think. There was that Spanish teacher we could distract into forgetting he was supposed to administer a test to us and that environmental science teacher who wanted to know how many children we planned to have since each little bundle would bring us one step closer to planetary destruction (guess, she'd give me an F today).

The first step then, if you are thinking about home schooling, is to answer the why question for yourself. Why do YOU want to home school? Honestly, I think it is best thought of as a vocation, your individual calling, because home schooling your children is more than just instructing them in the subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic. The Creator calls each and every one of us, and in doing so He endows us with the tools, that is the grace and talents, to fulfill our vocation, our mission. So, you want to take the time to reflect on your call. 

Additionally, there will be days (when the baby is crying, your 5th grader is begging for help with a math problem, your 3rd grader wants your undivided attention, your teens are debating the existence of alien life on Mars when they should be doing math, and your 4 year old is running laps around the school table) when you will doubt yourself or when those well-meaning psych evaluations from strangers will cause you to second guess your own sanity. It is in those moments of weakness, frustration and self-doubt that you will remember that home schooling is your vocation, God's intention for you and for your children.  
 
Keep in mind that as a spouse, your vocation to marriage leads you to be open to receiving new life and that obviously led you to parenthood if you are thinking about home schooling. As a Catholic, the catechism reminds us that God intended parents to be the primary educators of their sons and daughters. So, early on it seemed natural to my husband and me that we were the right ones to teach our little ones.

Really, we set sail for this course before our children were even born, but it is never too late to be called to jump on board. Honestly, I count myself as lucky or better yet blessed, because God gave me a mission and knowing my weaknesses he hasn't offered me an "out" so far. The longer we home school, the more we've come to understand that there isn't another equal opportunity for our children. The public school system has too many flaws, from poor achievement records to negative peer influences. Charters schools are simply the same "rose" just by a different name, as are too many Catholic schools. Raising a large family in this day and age is a challenge, the least of which is not the family budget, so private schools are cost prohibitive for us. As I said, God knew me well enough to know that well-intentioned road blocks were needed to keep me on the straight and narrow road of this vocation. I thank Him often for His wisdom.

The important lesson here is to seek God's plan for the education of your children, not your mom's or your father-in-law's plan. Once He plants the seed of your vocation in your heart, nurture it and protect against discouragement by others who have another vocation. You are fully capable of fulfilling this call and you'll receive sufficient grace to do so. Yes, He'll even give you the grace to endure having to administer 6 different tests on the same day while rocking the baby on your left hip as your 4 year old feeds you a play dough hamburger.

Basing your child's educational opportunities solely on the location of your domicile seems insufficient when you consider the ramifications. Think about that, parents put so much thought into choosing organic baby food and the perfect decor for their infant's bedroom, but they often give little to no serious thought about where or how their children will be educated. Saving for college is a noble goal, but giving your children a strong base and teaching them how to be lifelong learners is a wiser investment.

Nurture your vocation by surrounding yourself with supportive friends. Read good books to encourage and inspire you. Talk to home school veterans to gleam ideas and discover their tricks.  Attend home school conferences and workshops. Finding information on the internet helps, but to avoid overload, choose a few favorite sites and ignore the others. So many resources exist today that it can be overwhelming, so focus on a few and stick with what makes the most sense to you and what works for your child. Pray regularly, pray for guidance, pray for strength, pray for wisdom, pray for your sanity, pray and then trust that you are the right person for this job.

If the idea of teaching little Katie from preschool through high school scares the courage out of you, then concentrate on today. Today, she needs to learn her alphabet and you can do that.  Perhaps, you are starting this adventure a few years into grade school, no problem, you are fully capable of teaching the basics and home school curriculum is designed to assist you in teaching.  Even if your venture is beginning with a high schooler, learning is a step by step process so all you really need are the proper tools to take you through each step. Remember, that not long ago in history, children learned at the hips of their fathers and mothers. The idea that strangers with degrees trump moms and dads in the ability to disseminate knowledge is a relatively new one.

And just as children learn to crawl before they walk, so too your journey into educating your child will be a building process, so don't worry about how you are going to teach your daughter trigonometry while she's still in the third grade. A good friend says she commits to home schooling one year at a time and reevaluates when her children are graduated from their current grade levels. This plan works well for her because she doesn't feel trapped and it brings her to reflect now and again on what is working or not working in her household. I have long felt convicted in this vocation to home school, but my calling is my own and you need to seek yours.  

So, ask the Holy Spirit to assist you in discerning, pray often for wisdom and guidance, seek out support from other home schoolers, and most of all soak in the little moments with your children since YOU will actually be with them. Bask in the joy of the baby's smile while he sits on your hip. Revel in the excitement of your 4 year old's rendition of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Pat yourself on the back as your third grader reads a book on her own. Be encouraged when the 5th grader remembers to walk the dog and make her bed before starting her grammar lesson. Feel proud that your self-sufficient teen achieved an A+ on his term paper. 

Sometimes avoiding discouraging individuals can be impossible, especially if the naysayers were invited to your house for Thanksgiving dinner. In those situations steer the conversation in some less tense direction, like world politics. And if all else fails, tell them home schooling is your vocation. In my experience, it helps to stop people from continuing their interrogations when I tell them that God made me do it!
-----
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede (and a little soul expected to arrive in August). Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, a fish, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog "Blessings In Brelinskyville" (www.http://brelinskyville.blogspot.com/).

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


Two U.S. priests appointed by Pope Francis to address clergy sexual abuse Watch

Image of Father Oliver had previously served as a judge and promoter of justice in Boston tribunals and as a consultant to the Boston archdiocesan review board.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing the sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has appointed two U.S. priests to top positions at the Vatican. Father Robert W. Oliver, from Boston and Jesuit Father Robert J Geisinger, a member of the Chicago-Detroit ... continue reading


The truth about climate change

Image of Pope Benedict is known as the 'Green Pope' because of statements he has made on the environment. Pope Francis is also said to be working on an encyclical about the environment.

By Tony Magliano

"Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change .  loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the ... continue reading


Cardinal George compares forcing of sexual agenda to Sharia law Watch

Image of Cardinal George compared American culture and government to Sharia law in the way it treats mainstream Christians.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal George has criticized the imposition of a "public creed" to force acceptance of sexual depravity across the nation, enforced with the power of law. Cardinal George compared the forcing to Sharia law in some countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Head ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 15:12-20
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 17:1, 6-7, 8, 15
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen, Yahweh, to an upright ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:1-3
1 Now it happened that after this he made his way ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 19th, 2014 Image

St. Januarius
September 19: St. Januarius was born in Italy and was bishop of Benevento ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter