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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Living Faith

Why do Catholics love the crucifix so much?

Image of The crucifix is an important part of our Catholic identity.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The crucifix is a quintessentially Catholic icon. Although other Christians fondly and proudly display the cross, it is the crucifix that is largely unique to the Catholics. Why is the symbol of the death of Christ so important to Catholics? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


POPE: 'A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others' Watch

Image of The pope told the priests that

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"A man who is alone ends up bitter, not fruitful, and he gossips about others." Those are the words of the Pope, speaking out during a meeting with 123 priests working in the Diocese of Caserta along with 19 bishops from Italy's Campania region this past ... continue reading


UPROOTED: Largest displacement of worldwide religious communities reached last year Watch

Image of In the nation of Central African Republic, widespread lawlessness and violence between Christians and Muslims resulted in at least 700 deaths in Bangui in December -- alone.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The year of 2013 turned out to be a very grim year indeed for religious tolerance and diversity. Millions of Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and others representing a range of faiths were forced from their homes on account of their religious beliefs. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Papal visit to US not confirmed, but archbishop confident

Image of Pope Francis coming to Philly next September!

By Catholic News Agency (News Consortium)

Lets all Pray that Pope Francis comes to visit us here in the United States of America. Philadelphia, PA  (CNA/EWTN) - Reports that Pope Francis will travel to the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families in 2015 remain unconfirmed by the Vatican; however, ... continue reading


Catholic should be a way of life, not just a Sunday thing

Image of Catholic means universal. It's time to apply that to how we live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To know the way forward, we must look to the past. As the very first chapter Ecclesiastes tells us, "there is no new thing under the sun," meaning that everything we think of as new is actually old and whatever we can imagine has been imagined, and even tried by those ... continue reading


Let the Holy Spirit Teach us How to Become Prayer Watch

Image of St. Paul wrote to the early Christians in Greece, telling them to pray without ceasing. (1 Th. 5:16-19) They did not live lives of ease, in any sense of the word. They had families, occupations, bills, and yes, difficulties and struggles beyond what many of us could imagine. They also suffered greatly for their faith. Yet, he instructed them to Pray without ceasing. Did he really mean it? I believe that he did.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When the Spirit dwells in a person, from the moment in which that person has become prayer, he never leaves him. For the Spirit himself never ceases to pray in him. Whether the person is asleep or awake, prayer never from then on departs from his soul. Whether he ... continue reading


Pope Francis meets, blesses Sudanese woman condemned to death for faith Watch

Image of Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for apostasy, but has since escaped her sentence and left Sudan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has met and blessed the Sudanese woman who was recently condemned to death for her faith. Meriam Ibrahim was condemned to death in Sudan for the crime of apostasy. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis has met and blessed Meriam Ibrahim at the ... continue reading


MIRACLE IN ENGLAND: God's face smiles over Norfolk, or is it Sean Connery or Karl Marx? Watch

Image of This image is suspected to show the face of God in clouds over Norfolk, however, it may also be the face of Karl Marx or Sean Connery.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The English have long thought themselves special, and a new photograph from Norfolk in England may just prove that God does indeed smile on the English. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amateur photographer Jeremy Fletcher took an image that shows a face in ... continue reading


Pope Francis to visit Mafia stronghold this weekend Watch

Image of Pope Francis' stance against organized crime is seen as remarkable; the Mafia and the Catholic Church have previously been seen by many as having

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Incensed about the loss of innocent life in his immediate surroundings, Pope Francis plans to travel to the Mafia stronghold of Caserta, near Naples this weekend in an effort to set things right. The murder of three-year-old Nicola "Coco" Campolongo, a boy who ... continue reading


Pope expresses regret with exodus of Christians from Mosul Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

In his weekly Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis mourned the fleeing of the last Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul, who were told by ISIS forces last week to either convert, pay the Jizya tax or leave. (CNA/EWTN News) - "They are persecuted; our brothers are ... 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, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... 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