Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Our Move from Home School to Catholic School

I homeschooled three of my children until the eldest was going into fifth grade. About a year and a half ago, when we knew the new little one was coming, we had a family meeting to discuss whether to enroll in Catholic School or continue homeschooling. To illustrate classic decision-making theory, we put together a list of the pros and cons of each:

Catholic School – Pros:

1. Make more friends
2. Cute uniforms
3. Gym class
4. Music class
5. Art class
6. Recess
7. Fun after-school activities
8. Softball team
9. Irish step-dancing
10. Drama
11. Basketball team

Cons –

1. Costs more money
2. Will miss mom, dad, baby, and friends

Homeschooling - Pros:

1. Can make plans with friends during school day
2. Can wear whatever I want
3. Can spend more time with family
4. Can play outside more
5. Can do fun activities whenever I want
6. Can be silly in school
7. Can make noise in school
8. Can make up my own schoolwork
9. Can learn on my own schedule
10. Teacher knows me well
11. Can help teach

Cons –
Mom can’t take us everywhere to do as many activities as are available in school

The list may seem simplistic, but the purpose in drawing it up was to involve the children in the process of making a decision in a rational way. We let them know that Mom and Dad would have the final say, but their input was important to us.

According to decision-making theory, when both sides of the equation come out equally, then is the time to add emotional weights to each portion. Emotions were high on both sides as well. We waited for an answer from the Lord.

After my husband was in a car accident and we thought we would be unable to afford the tuition, I felt broken-hearted. It was then that I realized I had really been hoping to send the kids to school. A month later, my husband said he was on board if I wanted to go ahead with it, and we all attended an open house for our local regional Catholic school. We kept the application for about a week, during which the answer became increasingly clear.

At that time, I was co-leader of a large homeschooling field trip group on Long Island. My partner was very understanding about my decision. I wrote a letter to my members to explain our decision. I include portions of it here, as it lays out very well my feelings about homeschooling.

“Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

My first homeschooling meeting (5 years ago!) was such an exciting experience. It was so awesome to find out that there were other mothers out there who were fun, intelligent, well-read, well-rounded, and willing to expend all their energies on their kids. At that time, my eldest was 4 and pretty much done with kindergarten. I knew it would be a waste of her time to put her through a formal kindergarten and that an individualized program would be the best thing for her. I didn’t know how long I would carry it on, but decided to make that decision one year at a time. Having close homeschooling family friends for both me and my children has been extremely personally rewarding. How lovely it is to sit chatting with a few best friends while all your children are having the time of their lives! It has also been my great pleasure to serve the homeschooling community for the past three years. Seeing the kids all having fun learn together – seeing the reaction of the management at museums, etc., to what wonderful children we all have – while also learning a thing or two myself – those are all experiences well worth the effort! Now that chapter has closed and my life journey continues. As my Dad says, from time to time your calling or purpose in life changes to something – not qualitatively better or worse but - different. This fall, my three older children will be attending a Catholic school while I tend to our new baby, home business, and incomplete novels.

To me, the essence of Homeschooling is the parents’ claiming the freedom of choice in education that is their natural right. That is why I will always consider myself to be a Homeschooler at heart, no matter where my children may complete their formal education.

Here is a link to an online article I wrote during my homeschooling years:

“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

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