Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Holy Spirit, continued...

To recap: I, a former public schoolteacher and defender, am meeting all of these homeschoolers. None of them seem isolationist and their kids seem normal, even more polite and self-motivated than I'd seen as a teacher. They were all involved in a variety of activities and not a one was moving to a mountain cabin in Montana without plumbing or electricity.

Madeleine started preschool in my old district, primarily because it's familiar. We decided she would go to my former elementary school after that, as we hoped to move into that district. The matter was resolved.
In Advent, I started going to daily Mass after dropping Madeleine off at preschool. I noticed a family of eight on a regular basis; given the time of Mass (9AM), I figured they must be homeschoolers. I wondered what they did to their preschool age daughter to have her so quiet. At least the baby made some noise, which helped.
So, we happened to be at Mass on Paczki Day (everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's; in metro Detroit, everyone's Polish on Paczki Day) and I was talking to (yet another) homeschooling friend. We were discussing parish CCD programs. I admitted I was unsure about having my kids go through the program and was thinking about teaching it myself. She said, "Yep. If your kids don't learn their times tables, they'll never be an engineer. So what. If they don't learn their Faith, that's something you'll have to explain to your Maker."
That was some serious food for thought. We still did the public school kindergarten prep with the parents' orientation and all, but the trickle through the dam was becoming a flow.
I kept worrying at it, like a loose tooth. I thought about drive times, subjects covered, books read, pedophile teachers. I thought about bus rides, cruel classmates, science labs, peer pressure. Finally at the end of March I said it out loud, on a Wednesday afternoon phone call to my husband.
"Honey... I need to tell you something and I don't want you to freak out."
"Heather, that's a lousy way to keep me calm."
"I'm really starting to think about homeschooling."
Remarkably, he didn't freak out. He made supportive, nonjudgemental statements about discernment and researching options, and we hung up. That evening, though, he came in with information about Kimberly Hahn's book. I mentioned asking the Neighbor at her son's birthday party that weekend, and he gave his endorsement.
So that Saturday, I asked her. "What got you started in homeschooling?" I asked when the party was starting to wind down. It was her first son and the problems they'd had in Kentucky. "Why?" she asked pointedly. Shelly's many things--stupid ain't on the list.
I explained all my reservations and even ran home to get my stack of workbooks I'd ordered from Madeleine's book orders. She laughed at me. "You're not thinking about homeschooling; you're in denial," she said through her chuckles. The stack I already had was taller than her six-year-old's whole curriculum.
I asked the mother of the homeschooling family from church if they used the same program as Lucy. "We use Colby," she managed rather breathlessly; she was wrestling the baby-turning-toddler.
Colby? I wondered. Then I looked online, and realized it wasn't Colby, but Kolbe. Wow. This was the education I wish I'd had. Sigh...
Then we got the "results" from Madeleine's kindergarten readiness test. I had been looking for some kind of sign short of a burning bush, and this was it. I told my mother and she maintains that the school screwed up with that. When I said, "Shelly thinks we should homeschool," she made her "I've heard crazier ideas" face. Yippee! I got out my books, my plans, started talking curriculum choices...
With my husband's okay, we decided to try it on. I settled on reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion for our curriculum, and just used off-the-shelf books. I made four-day plans and tried to run with it. And it worked.
Dale wasn't sold yet, though. We went to the conference in June, where we ran into Andrea. We'd met at the Latin Mass and had briefly discussed homeschooling; it was back in the day when I thought they were all nuts. She was thrilled to see us and was brimful of advice and enthusiasm and we talked for an hour about getting started, teaching reading, self-designed curriculum...

The conference did it for Dale, which left us with another batch of questions. Which curriculum, or do-it-ourselves? Enroll or not? Where? And the most important: how do we tell my mother-in-law, who had worked for the public schools for years and had seen the bad side of homeschooling?



At 7:50 PM, Blogger Zach said...

I stuck with my "public school" pretty unwaveringly for more than three years. (Remember the first time we met, Zach?)

Oh, yes - of course I remember! I had great fun teasing you: "So, how does it feel to be part of an evil institution sucking the souls out of our children?", if I recall correctly. :)

But, I had this suspicion even then that things might change when the time came to send Maddie to school For Realâ„¢ ...

They were all involved in a variety of activities and not a one was moving to a mountain cabin in Montana without plumbing or electricity....

So, now that you've decided we're Normal People, it'd be a bad time to let you know if we were actually planning on something like that? ;)


At 9:49 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

She laughed at me. "You're not thinking about homeschooling; you're in denial,"

That was said with as much love as giggles. :-)

Then we got the "results" from Madeleine's kindergarten readiness test. I had been looking for some kind of sign short of a burning bush, and this was it. I told my mother and she maintains that the school screwed up with that.

I agree with your mother wholeheartedly.

I have to say that my father was not happy about our decision to homeschool, however now that he's seen the rewards he is our biggest supporter.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Homeschooling/Home education/ Life Learners...Oh the list goes on and on.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Terry said...

He moves very slowly.

After reading Crunchy Cons and Flee to the Fields, I told my wife I wanted to buy land in Iowa and become organic free range pig farmers.

Now telling her I want to homeschool our child (God willing) won't seem so outrageous. :)

Not only am I a former public school teacher, I now, for the time being, work in teacher education at a university. It's scary what we're teaching teachers to teach their students.

At 7:09 AM, Blogger Milehimama said...

My 3 older ones are in Public school for the first time. 1st grade and Kindergarten. My normal 1st grader is already asking to be homeschooled. I want to homeschool him. Now I am working on dh. Sneaky, subtle... pointing out everything bad so far. This is not difficult when the school uses "invented spelling" as a phonics strategy and "Everyday Math", where students draw pictures of clocks, thermometers, etc. but don't learn how to use them.
Ahh... sowing the seeds of discontent... it helps that there is 1 private school within a 25 mile radius, and it is not only too expensive, but enrollment is closed.

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

There are times when I want to say "that durned HOLY SPIRIT" and reading this series, Heather, really has me saying that. You see, in the last two years that my daughter dearest has been alive, I too have come across the indelible evidence of what I think I must do, and that's homeschooling. Your post is a pearl on the string of "wackings across the head" that the "durned" Holy Spirit has been using to get my attention and give me strength. Amazingly, the first time I said it out loud to my husband, he didn't roll his eyes. That was perhaps the "beginning of the end."

To add to the irony (just for fun), I have a public education degree and that's what I was going to do with my life, before I student taught. Ahhh, the Humor of God. He's crackin me up.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Zach--I didn't want to mention your research regarding a cabin in Ontonagon. Dale does make a pretty good sales pitch with cost, acreage, and square footage, I'll admit. :)

Shelly--I know you said it with love. It was your encouragement and lack of defensiveness that made it a real, valid option.

Terry--I know what you mean with teaching teachers. I had to start work on a Master's to keep my certification and there were at least a couple classes I know I'll NEVER use. And that's just because they're useless, not misinformation.

Milehimama--we looked into Catholic schools as our area is littered with them (elementary, anyway). Our parish doesn't have one, though. We decided it would require more sacrifice than we wanted to make, I with the time more than money. Slowly...

Sarah, I know what you mean with the "whackings on the head." There was no real single event, though some were more influential than others. Paczki Day and the readiness test "results" were my big ones.

Thanks all for your encouragement--the anticlimactic conclusion is in the works!

At 8:25 AM, Blogger JStark said...

And Jesus said:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father."Matthew
Chapter 5....

What good is homeschooling if you leave and don't legally fight for what you have already paid for in property taxes, then complain about why your taxes have gone up?

We need to stay in the school systems we have paid for -- otherwise do not complain! We have legal rights and we need to yell that these rights have been pushed down.

If you don't like that teacher, get another one. Common sense. Also get a spiritual director to remind you to think for yourself, using the principals of good spiritual Catholic Christian discernment. One of them is give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God's.

But how can you do this if you leave the school systems?

Try Supplemental Extra Home School that is just as fulfilling! You just paid for that school and those teachers. Stand up in your government and don't be chicken.

Let your light shine and teach your children to let theirs shine too.

HOmeschooling is isolationism!

At 8:38 AM, Blogger JStark said...

By teaching a child to be a light in the world, this is good Supplemental Knowledge to what he or she as a baptised Catholic already may know because the Holy Spirit will also be teaching that
child of yours.

Parents are the primary teachers, yet are we not forgetting the Holy Spirit is the source of all wisdom. You homeschooling parents act like it is all yourrrrrrrrrs and that child is alllllllllll yourrrrs and that you are totally responsible and that God has a fly swatter and that you will be squashed with it if he or she doesn't get every single letter and dotted i or t cross in the Catechism.

My dad taught me to listen to the Holy Spirit to know what is right and wrong. It was less head knowledge and more in line with my Confirmation principles.

"Nothing is perfect," he said. "Take a good look around you. This is God's world. Now the people around you are not listening to God. But that doesn't mean you can't listen."

This was my Supplemental School of Faith. The Holy Spirit is the source of the wisdom for your children. Teach them to listen to God this way and it will be more effective and enable them to deal with all of the things God allows in their lives.

I know this is Higher Thinking Skills that go beyond the rote memorization of Catechism that most homeschoolers advocate. Listening and teaching listening skills to God is the best way.

This is Supplemental School to the School of the World. This is Supplemental to what they are getting to the rest of the world. It is sort of a Montessori approach to Spiritual life.

It works. It is not dumbing everthing down.

If you want to know more, this is based on the principles of good Catholic Spiritual Direction. Email me at

At 10:41 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...


You are sending your children to the wolves for 6 hours a day 5 days a week.

The wolves speak in her ear for nearly 40 hours per week. You may actually speak to her 7 hours per week. I mean REALLY TALK to her. Not sit, watch tv, sleep in the same house. I mean TALK to her.

Even if you count the hours at church I doubt that you are able to teach her more than 7 hours in any given week. There are only so many hours in a day and the Wolves have her most of them. You are assuming that she can withstand those pressures day in and day out.

I have to ask myself what goes through the mind of a child whose parents preach one thing at home and then send her to a secular school all week long. You are choosing to play russian roulette with your children. If the wolves don't brainwash her you will be very lucky. Good luck with that.

Shelly M.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...


AND...Where does it say in the Bible that our children have to shine their light in a school building? Children shining their light is one thing....attempting to squelch it is quite another!

My 5 ISOLATED children shine their light at fencing classes, basketball, church, park days, bowling, camping trips...oh the isolation is endless! By the way you spoke on that blog you would think that you have never heard of a car!

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Heather said...

1. About tax dollars: Don't worry. My son is getting speech therapy through the local school system; I consider that my compensation for my taxes.

2. If you don't like that teacher, get another one. Common sense.
Yeah, if only school districts would commonly let you change teachers after the school year has begun and you realize the one you were assigned is an incompetent or worse.

3. I know this is Higher Thinking Skills that go beyond the rote memorization of Catechism that most homeschoolers advocate. Listening and teaching listening skills to God is the best way.
I agree that listening to God is the best way, but I have question. Have you actually talked with any homeschoolers who only advocate the rote memorization of the CCC? Please, pass them on to me; I'd like to show them Kolbe Academy, Seton Home Study, Mother of Divine Grace, Our Lady of the Roasary or even Our Lady of Victory so their children can get a full education without compromising their faith.
As far as those Higher Thinking Skills you purport the schools teach, "home-educated students move into formal thought between the ages of 10 and 11, which is far earlier than the national average at ages 15 to 20.", see p. 18.

As far as shining her light goes, I refuse to endanger my child's soul for the sake of some teacher's ego. *I* will have to answer for that to my Maker. Not you.

You have chosen to have your child in the school system. That's great. It's not the right decision for my child or my family, and all I ask is that you respect that. I started this series to encourage anyone else going through this same discernment process, though you have helped me clarify my reasons.

I'm going to stop there for the night. After midnight and a glass of wine, civility is... diminishing.

At 2:27 PM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

Here is jstarks blog and information if anyone is interested.
Location:"T TOWN BY THE BAY" Tampa, Florida, Florida, United States
I am a p/t writer, part-time teacher in the Hillsborough School District, Tampa, Florida aNNND A PART TIME SUMMER GRADUATE EDUCATION STUDENT at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
I see no mention of Jeanne having children in that intro.

Nuff said...

Shelly M.
My virtue? Bluntness :-)

At 6:39 AM, Anonymous jstark said...

I cannot have children. Enough said. I am 43. I never can have children. I will send you the adoption bill. That's expensive too.

Instead of having children, I got married in my mid 30s.

I called two h.schooling companies for free samples. They hung up on me. IT IS A MONEY MAKING SCHEME.


Post a Comment

<< Home