But I truly felt a call to homeschool and I wrote about that back in 2011.
However, just feeling called to homeschool wasn't enough - I did a lot of research and educated myself on what homeschooling was and what it all entailed. I looked to be inspired, challenged and motivated. And I was. I became convicted that homeschooling was what God had called my family to, and that it was supposed to be my vocation as a mother. I still believe that.
Yet all of these years later when I speak of homeschooling this way, I have new homeschoolers, or folks who have never homeschooled at all, look at me as if I was speaking a different language. Young mom bloggers have gone on tirades about how I pushed their buttons or am out of my mind - and I have been absolutely dumbfounded at this because I always wrote or spoke in the vernacular that I emmersed myself in all those years ago. Why am I being perceived in such a hostile manner?
The epiphany for me has been that new homeschoolers, because they are new or because they are coming into homeschooling via a different route than I did, don't know that language! and of course non-homeschoolers have a completely different paradigm altogether! I can no longer assume that I'm on the same page with like minded folks when I write about home education any more that I can assume I'm on the same page with other Catholics when I give a talk about the spirituality of marriage at church!
So just to clarify for myself and others, where I am coming from, here are some of the thinkers, writers and influences that shaped my homeschool journey.
I remember going to my first home school meetings and listening to the mom talk about which math program they were using, and what they were using for phonics etc. and I had no idea where to even begin to look for the books and things I would need to start homeschooling! And that's when someone plopped Mary Pride's Big Book of Home Learning into my lap! Mary's down-to-earth reviews and advice gave me the confidence to start on this homeschool journey!
Later I subscribed to Practical Homeschooling and read The Way Home
and my homeschooling became home learning- I wanted to nurture education instead of just doing school at home. And slowly but surely, because of Mary Pride's writings, I became a recovered ex-feminist and I unlearned everything that had been subliminally planted into my psyche during my liberal 1970s Catholic Education.
I was first introducted to Karen Andreola in the pages of Practical Homeschooling Magazine,
Her book, the Charlotte Mason Companion made the 19th century educator, Charlotte Mason, more approachable to me, and the book encouraged me to be a softer, gentler teacher, and to make keener observations of the world around me so that I could guide my children. This was the book that made me understand that the best education is from nature itself and in real books.
I actually had a chance to email back and forth a little with Cindy. She is just a delight and is so encouraging in everything she does. I started out with her notebooking and organizing sets and then downloaded her talks for my MP3 from the Ultimate Homeschool Expo. The ones that stick with me the most are the ones about homeschooling her own children through high school and about the encouragement she got as a writer from a Titus 2 woman in her life! Make no mistake- Cindy is super sweet but she is also very tough when it comes to the education of her children and helping them to launch into their adult lives - and her attitude and spunk has helped me as I face these things in my own life! When I feel the temptation to turn around, quit, and put the kids in school, it is Cindy's voice I hear in my head reminding me of why I started this journey in the first place, and who it really is that sows the seeds of doubt.
Father John Hardon
Father Hardon helped me realize that home education truly was a very Catholic lifestyle:
"So true is this that it is the second and co-equal purpose for Christ instituting the Sacrament of Matrimony, for the procreation and the education of children. By whom? By the parents! That is why Christ instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony. So how do we know that home schooling is necessary? Because the Church has always taught it."
Julie Bogart and her Brave Writer products helped me evolve from a "textbook" kind of homeschooler, to a learning-as-a- lifestyle type of teacher. And that was very hard for me - still is. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I tried out for a teaching job at Brave Writer this spring and as part of the process, I had to grade a writing sample from a 10-year-old girl. Boy - did I! I graded the heck out of it with all of my years as a student with red pencil marks all over my writing AND decades as a medical transcriptionist where every subjectively misplaced coma or hyphen was reason for suspension, in full force!! I'm sure if a real little girl had received my comments she would have been scared away from writing for years. So even as a long-time Bravewriter Mom - I'm still working to overcome my own writing issues as a teacher.
One of my favorite parts of Julie's philosophy is the "Movie Day!" and I incorporate as many movies as I can into our curriculum as well as discussions and "what ifs" after the movie is over.
If you EVER have the time to hear Voddie Baughman speak - go for it! He is a dedicated preacher, husband and father, and homeschooler! He speaks with charm and good humor. One of his best talks is entitled "Heaven or Harvard." Again - a talk I have listened to many, many times, especially during the tough times when I need to remember why the heck I'm doing this!
Cheryl is a controversial figure these days, but back in 1995, she was in the heart of the homeschooling and the publisher of Gentle Spirit Magazine. I had a chance to hear her speak at her last homeschool convention. At the time, I was pregnant with my third child and Mr. Pete had started a business and our financial situation was going from good to horrible very quickly. I attended the CHEO convention that year to learn as much as I could about homeschooling, but I was drawn to Cheryl's talk entitled, "How My Family Learned to Live with Less." For various reasons, Cheryl's family was experiencing severe hardships and yet she was learning how to deal with it all by cooking 30-day meals and learning to live on next to nothing. It was an amazing and inspiring story that I referred to many times as my own family sunk into deeper into poverty. Cheryl said that she found herself on her face before the Lord and very soon after that talk, so did I. The remembrance of Cheryl's talk that day helped to encourage me many times over the years. I even did the 30-day cooking for a year or so. The Cheryl Lindsey of the Gentle Spirit days still inspires me.
Mary Kay Clark
Of course, as a Catholic Home schooler, the first book I ever read was, Catholic Home Education, by Dr. Mary Kay Clark. I had to read that book to discover that there are indeed Catholics to the right of me on the philosophical plane - which is refreshing because in real life, I'm usually the most conservative person in the room! But although I disagreed with a lot of Dr. Clark's methods, and I doubt I will ever enroll any of my kids in Seton, her book stressed the importance of living an authentically Catholic lifestyle, especially for the sake of my children. And that is something I will always be grateful to her for.
The first time I ever heard of Kimberly Hahn, someone had give me a tape of her conversion story and the conversion story of her husband Scott Hahn. I started out with Professor Hahn's tape and found it a little to heady for me (since then I've listened to it 100s of times! It really changed my life) so I took it out and popped his wife's tape into my player. I accidentally started on side 2 of the tape and heard Kimberly just sobbing and crying as if her soul was broken. I had to turn the tape around and start at the beginning to find out what was the matter! And that was my introduction to the Hahn's! Kimberly Hahn is my age and she had come into the Catholic Church and was homeschooling her children as if God had bestowed the gift on her personally - and so He had! and to me and my friends too as I later came to see. I listened to Kimberly's tape so many times that my kids could recite parts of it verbatim. It was my touchstone in the early years of homeschooling.
Dr. Raymond Moore
It was fun to buy phonics curriculum when Calvin was little - things like Sing, Spell Read and Write. But when your kid isn't getting it the fun quickly dissipates. It was Dr. Moore's books that first helped me to see that little boys learn differently, and that a one size fits all approach to education never has been a good idea, and that as a homeschooler, I had the chance to fit my education around my student, and not the other way around.
When I was going to school, I wasn't encouraged to read many good books. I read all the time of course, but I wouldn't say I developed a taste for good classical literature until my junior year of high school. After finding Melissa's blog and books I realized that I really wanted my kids to have a love of reading and a delight for good stories. Melissa's enthusiasm for good books totally transformed what I wanted to for my kids by introducing them to really great books - and not just to wait for high school to start!
Lee Binz, The Home Scholar!
Most of the homeschoolers in my support group use Seton, Mother of Divine Grace, or an online charter school for their high schoolers - unless of course they put them into high school - or college via the PSEO option! So I had little to no support within my network for using my own high school curriculum and actually homeschooling my homeschoolers!! Until I found Lee Binz. Lee Binz not only homeschooled her sons all the way through high school, they got into college and had great scholarships! I was a gold card member for a few months and I have also purchased her books and e-books. During the high school years Lee Binz is my go-to source for inspiration and teacher education!
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