I have homeschooled my children for five years, and currently I have four eager students in my charge. The question comes up occasionally why we homeschool. The question comes from our children as well as from my husband and me. To a large extent the answer is a listing of pro’s and con’s, where the pro’s quickly outweigh the con’s. Sometimes this is sufficient for all of us, and we continue with renewed vigor. Sometimes, however, the question takes the shape of a doubt: are we doing the right thing, or does there exist a better option? One answer to this doubt leads thus: a homeschool is one integrated part of a family. It is a fruit of the life of the family, and will be there as long as there is a family, whether the children are formally enrolled in a private school, home-based or other-based, or they are enrolled in a public school. To whatever extent there is life in a family, there is a homeschool.
Learning is a necessary part of life, particularly transparent in children. In a home where there is learning, there is life, and vice versa. Jesus is “meek and humble of heart”. In no other atmosphere than that of learning is there humility as well as meekness. A stubborn boaster does not learn anything because he refuses any form of “input” into his bigoted world. A fascinating and good development of the homeschool has the form of gathering around the table and exchanging ideas and developing the mind. When this physical form is the primary learning center for children, it is a desired educational forum! A clearer, more physical homeschool is better than one that dwells “only” on the mental plane, because we are human persons—body and soul—and as such we are more complete when there is at least some involvement of the body! This is one fact that the family protects. The justification for living as a family is not a mental construction that fads can or ever will nullify. A human family does not first dwell on a mental plane as an ideal, subsequently taking on physical form, but is a physical reality, like the person. Its justification is inherent to human nature, and it can only be denied when the human person is denied. A homeschool, being an inherent part of the life of the family, remains in existence because of the human person and because the human person has her origin in a family. To homeschool therefore shapes the human person on multiple planes. The fact that we do not have to leave the home in order to learn, that the times of our learning fit into the other times for activities at home, helps to make the home a real place for the family. Harmony is achieved more efficiently when the family, the home, and learning do not contradict each other. If I must leave the home to educate myself, I have a contradiction on my hands. If I have to find my meaning as a human person without the base of a family life, I have a contradiction. While contradictions may be unavoidable in certain situations, their existence cannot make the positive and greater good of home-based learning somehow undesirable.
Furthermore, the Catholic Homeschool is not conducive to the self-referential spirituality of which Pope Francis continues to warn the Church. There is no need to fear that homeschooling would foster sectarianism, since the homeschool is not a reaction, but a spontaneous growth from family life itself. In this it has life within itself, like the religious life of monks and nuns. It ‘self-generates’. It bears fruit. To homeschool is to be a family.