Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Tara K. E. Brelinsky

4/3/2013 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

The Church Needs to Be Baptized Afresh in the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Do I still believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are available for ordinary Christians? You bet I do! I believe that Pentecost still happens. I KNOW it still happens. We can ALL know it still happens because we can experience its effects in our own lives. We should not be afraid of the Holy Spirit! In fact, we should regularly seek to be filled with more and more of the Spirit.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We need to pray for a New Pentecost for the Church in this hour! We need more of the Holy Spirit for the New Evangelization of the Church - so that a renewed Church can engage in the missionary task of the Third Christian Millennium. We need to be baptized afresh ... continue reading


Brotherhood of the Belt: Struggle, Trouble and Failure in the Christian Life Watch

Image of The Martyrdom of Peter

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Peter's wrong choices were not the end of the story of Gods plan for his life. Peter's denial crippled Peter emotionally and spiritually. He lost his way. That was until he encountered the Risen Christ. There, in that encounter, he allowed the belt of ... continue reading


Top 5 Roman Catholic colleges in the United States Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What constitutes being the best university is oftentimes subjective and usually in adherence to one's beliefs and practices. Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions many people are making. Some opt for those that offer the best training in the fields of ... continue reading


Don't take your children 'hostage,' Pope tells separated couples Watch

Image of Christian communities, Pope Francis says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In discussing the role of parents educating their children, Pope Francis in his General Audience, advised separated couples to "never, never, never take the children hostage!" LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope spoke on the role of parents in the ... continue reading


A Baltimorean's reflections on the Baltimore riots

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"The God of peace is never glorified by human violence," wrote the famous Trappist monk Thomas Merton. Whether it's on an individual, city, national, or international level, violence always dishonors God, and makes bad situations worse. The recent Baltimore City riots ... continue reading


8 encouraging Bible verses to lift you up Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Sometimes getting up in the morning can be the hardest thing you'll do all day. When life's worries press down on you and take your soul hostage, the most important thing you can do for yourself is turn to God. He will always be there for you, through the good times ... continue reading


Pope Francis tells bishops to act more like pastors - and not 'pilots' Watch

Image of The meeting between bishops will last until May 21. At that time, bishops will discuss how their faithful have received Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, and look at ways to implement its teaching.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Addressing bishops in Italy, Pope Francis told them to act more like pastors than "pilots" telling the faithful what to do. The pontiff said that bishops need "Ecclesial sensitivity." They should remain bold in denouncing cultural trends that offend human ... continue reading


Five-year-old boy brings people to tears with heartfelt act of kindness Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During his meal at a Waffle House restaurant, 5-year-old Josiah Duncan's attention wandered to the man outside the establishment. The man, dirty and holding a plastic bag, became the center of the young boy's curiosity and concern. After learning from her mother that ... continue reading


Amazing 'Bulletproof' cross under construction in middle of Christian-hostile Pakistan Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Everything changed for a Pakistani businessman, trying to build one of the world's tallest and first "bulletproof" cross, after God appeared in his dreams. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Parvez Henry Gill, a real estate businessman, claimed  God gave ... continue reading


Future priests endure 'preaching boot camp' to learn how to spice up sermons Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has been clear, priests should be able to touch the hearts of their audience whenever they preach. To remedy the lack of heart-and-soul-felt sermons, one seminary in Detroit decided to hire professional actors to teach soon-to-be priests how to give ... 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, Acts 28:16-20, 30-31
16 On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 11:4, 5, 7
4 Yahweh in his holy temple! Yahweh, his throne is in ... Read More

Gospel, John 21:20-25
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 23rd, 2015 Image

St. John Baptist Rossi
May 23: This holy priest was born in 1698 at the village of Voltaggio in ... 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