Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My journey- the edited version how I ended up homeschooling- the Pope and Canon Law made me do it

I wrote a homeschooling manifesto last December (2012) of why I wasn't sending my kids to school, this is the tamer version and it doesn't include my full laundry list. And it will serve as a good reminder to me for the future. By the way, homeschooling is not a calling. I am tired of people saying they are being called to homeschool. My vocation was called to be a mother- that's what I was called to do. I made the decision to homeschool. Sort of like I made the decision to put a coat and hat on my kids today.

I didn't always have a homeschool brain. I started out thinking my kids were going to go through our Catholic School system here locally- the same one I went through (just a different parish). My husband was indifferent to public or private (he's not Catholic). So the decision was really mine. Knox went to 1 semester of preschool at our church's school. That one semester was so stressful for me as a parent. The teacher wasn't even Catholic for starters. The red flag, a non Catholic teacher in a private school...hmmm... And now I digress...My mom's parents felt at the time she was in school in the 50's that when the lay Catholics came in slowly to start teaching the students (replacing the nuns) in Catholic School's in Buffalo, NY, that it was going to pot then and she might as well attend a public school.  So here I am thinking why is a non Catholic teaching in a private school- sort of funny...weird. Okay so there was numerous other things I can name that turned me away as well, no permanent harm I am aware of came from one semester with that particular teacher. So overall- call it the social atmosphere for turning me away from schools. It was all negatively influencing my son.

Now as I was discerning homeschooling, and whether that was where we were heading or transferring away from that mess at our Church, temporarily till Kindergarten started, I had already gotten the green flag from my husband to homeschool. I am not sure where it came from but he was awesome and encouraged me in that direction (call it the Holy Spirit working). My sister had talked to me about her plans to homeschool prior to Knox going into the Catholic school system, but that was a one sided conversation because that was not the route our family was taking, and it didn't make sense for our life at the time. That conversation had ended that summer before school. 

  UNTIL...I had the green light and encouragement from my husband, and the seed was finally getting watered. I contacted a lot of people who were already homeschooling, and I was given the book Catholic Homeschooling by Mary Kay Clark to read, through a friend from Brad's work. I was trying to play devil's advocate, so at first I was treating this homeschooling book and the idea like it was a cult and I was being lied to and indoctrinated with ideas that were crazy. A close friend who doesn't homeschool was discouraging it to, but also was at least open to hearing me talk about it and also was bouncing questions around for me.

Take this quote from Mary K. Clark in Catholic homeschooling. (read the photo) Am I drinking to much of the homeschool Kool Aid?

perhaps reading into things too much? is your first thought? Certainly no one would expect me to actually believe that it's my job to educate ie.. teach them to read, do math, write.. phonics, ha, that's the school system's job, that's why we have them, right? Yup that was my mindset... And this Mary Kay Clark lady is nuts...

Or how about this quote (there are lots more in this book)

Oh wait- Canon Law...note that one, and a few other quotes from other Pope's though out this book, some about integration- mixing young males in with females...oh that's an old fashioned thought...who could believe that?  Oh and the Popes had opinions about text books being used too, how they are lacking.... hmmm....maybe there is some good advice we have overlooked there.

Why on earth do all the Pope's keep talking about it being our primary duty to educate our children? So many Popes, in so many documents over and over again, the same words, from councils to cardinals to priests. Do they merely mean educate them about stewardship ways, natural family planning ways, treating each other with respect and living the Gospel's message?? If that's all it mean, why do they keep reminding us?

Familiaris Consortio (which by the way, I had no idea I was going to be taking that class this past year- and yes I am one of the people that actually shows up when it's scheduled) is full of reminders of parents being the primary educators...over and over again- we are getting that.

  All the while, I had been going to the library and seeing my high school friend Cheryl there with her kids (who you all know about her and she homeschools). I tried picking her brain, but I could tell she wasn't giving me the whole story- or at least that's what I thought. She is very good at picking her words as not to offend (I mean that as a BIG compliment). Because I was basically saying there is nothing wrong with the education you receive in the Catholic school system- the standardized testing scores show the kids are receiving the education) She was agreeing with me about the standards being high and scores were high. There wasn't an argument about that. She went through school with me and we graduated together.. so similar experiences, actually I think she had straight A's..so she was more studious, but what was it that she knew I wasn't getting?
  I think when she said something to the effect of the parents are the primary educators of their children, and when you send your kids to school you are setting up someone else to take your place and why would you want to do that? (and she means not just as teacher, she meant in all aspects of life). Our kids had run out of story time and I said good bye a bit later and the kids and I walked out. I remember driving out of the parking lot of the library and it clicked.. oh and then I couldn't quit thinking about it.  I remember Facebooking about it, and my one homeschooling Facebook friend Keith and Nikki encouraging me. I remember my thoughts racing. My head was going crazy.

 OH I had to go back and reread that line about Canon Law and what the Popes were firmly telling us Catholic parents to not give up our rights as primary educators...do you really think they meant just teaching your kid how to pull a bowl of cereal and brush their teeth in the morning and how to share their toys?? NO OF COURSE NOT! They mean more than that. Welcome to the dark side Shannon.

 And ta-dah.. here I am today. I have had my bout of disagreements with one in law on homeschooling, and been told "good luck with that I hope your kids aren't screwed up when they are adults."  After that I didn't bother telling the rest. Why do I need to announce it? 
  Seems weekly have people trying to inadvertently derail me from my schedule with last minute events from unplanned lives.  And I do kindly have to tell them "no but thanks anyway." I get not so nice text messages back questioning why I am unavailable and what plans could I possibly have that are so important and why I am so busy suddenly- manipulative questions to start an argument really.

 Remember when you finally tell you're friends and family you don't really owe any one an explanation of why you're homeschooling, or really what your plans are long term or how you plan on "socializing your children". It's not their business to meddle in your affairs with your raising your children. (It's sort of like the people who question the number of children you should be having- why are they meddling in your sex life?) Don't ever feel guilty about saying no to anyone, whether it be about curriculum, or play dates, a helpy helperton suggestion, music or book, etc.. .  It's much easier to stay on schedule than to come home scrambling to make up work in the evening and feel like you accomplished nothing and feel neglectful of you're duties. I personally enjoy being on schedule more than not. It's less stressful and it's predictable and it's planned. Life is easier when you have a plan, is it not? 

Oh can you believe I didn't mention Common Core? LOL That's a whole 'nother can of worms. But if you have already looked into homeschooling and read up on parent's rights..than you know. The common core thing happened after we decided. But it is something I added to my laundry list.

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