When you start homeschooling, you join a vast community of fellow Catholic homeschoolers. While we may disagree on educational philosophy and some of the externals of our faith, we all share our Catholic faith and the desire to provide our children with a quality education that will help them develop into the people God wants them to be.
Since we are all in this together, what are some things that we can do to support each other in our homeschooling journeys?
Pray for Fellow Homeschoolers and their Children
Do you belong to a Catholic homeschool group, either in real life or on-line? Make a point of praying for these fellow homeschoolers in the trenches. Homeschooling isn’t easy and we can all use the prayers. A sincere Our Father, Hail Mary, or Memorare can work miracles.
Also, pray for each other’s children. I recently read of a Catholic mom’s group that committed to praying three Hail Mary’s each day for each other’s children. What a wonderful idea! We live in a challenging world and our children need our prayers. Imagine the prayer power of a whole group of moms praying for our children.
Encourage other Homeschoolers
If you are reading this as a new homeschooler, believe that you can do this. God gave you your children. If He’s calling you to homeschool, God will give you the strength and wisdom to do that as well.
Homeschool veterans, try to remember what it was life when you first began homeschooling. Choosing to step off the well-worn path of traditional schooling can feel like jumping off a bridge without a net. New homeschoolers need encouragement and support.
For that matter, so do those of us who have been on this journey for years. No matter if you are a new or veteran homeschooler, we all have bad days. We can be good listeners when other homeschoolers need to vent or share their struggles. We can help them keep going when the road is hard.
Because homeschoolers spend so much time with their children, it can be hard to get out of the house for doctor’s appointments, meetings, a date night, or simply to have some much-needed alone time. In addition, many homeschoolers have large families and it can be hard to get children to various activities.
Do what you can to help other homeschoolers. Offer to take their children to activities if you are going the same place. Host play-dates to give other parents a break. Help fellow homeschoolers out any way you can if they have a new baby or are dealing with a life crisis.
Respect Other’s Parenting and Educational Decisions
Parents in general can be very defensive about our parenting decisions. We all want to do what’s best for our children. Unfortunately we sometimes make the logical leap that if we are doing what is best for our children and you are doing something different then one of us must be wrong.
Because we have made the unconventional decision to educate our children at home, homeschoolers can be even more prone to this way of thinking. We so desperately want to make the “right” educational choices for our children that when someone is doing something different, we can either feel insecure and threatened (maybe what I am doing is wrong) or feel the need to “help” the other person out by preaching our educational philosophy (obviously I am right and they are wrong).
Children come with all sorts of gifts and challenges. That goes for the parents as well. Parents and homeschooling are not “one size fits all” activities. A healthy respect for other homeschooling parent’s parenting and educational choices goes a long way.
Respect Other’s Faith Choices
This goes along with number 4 above. Within the Catholic homeschool community and the Catholic community in general, there are a variety of ways of living out a Catholic life. Among Catholic homeschoolers, you will find those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass and those who attend the Novus Ordo; those who receive communion only on the tongue and those who receive in the hand; those who are deeply devoted to praying the Rosary daily and those who prefer to simply talk to God about what is going on in their lives; those who are social justice warriors working to change the world, and those who are more focused on living lives of quiet service within their own homes; converts and cradle Catholics. Each one of these individuals is devoted to the Catholic faith, even if they practice it in different ways. Just as in education, there is no one “right” way to be Catholic. Respecting each other’s faith journey is so important in homeschooling and in life.
Be Willing to Accept Help
At various points in our homeschooling journey, we will be the ones offering help. At other times, we will be the ones who need it. Being willing to accept help is actually a way of being helpful even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. In acknowledging our weaknesses and struggles, we give others the opportunity to be generous and to feel needed. If we put up a false front and always try to make our lives look perfect, we aren’t doing anyone any favors.
We are all on the homeschooling journey together. Let us all do what we can to help each other carry our crosses.