MadCatHerald: A look at homeschooling families in the Diocese of Madison

Almost 7,500 students attend Catholic schools in the Diocese of Madison. That leads to a rough estimate of almost 100 students per school.

When you compare that number to the more than 300 students in more than 85 families who participate in the Holy Family Homeschoolers (HFH) program in the diocese, one can see it is a viable and growing option for families.

Why homeschool?

According to HFH families, the two biggest reasons they chose to homeschool are faith and academics. Teaching children at home gives parents a chance to teach the faith in a manner which is not watered down and is in keeping with the Magisterium.

HFH families also say homeschoolers, on average, score significantly higher on SAT tests than students in public schools and in religiously affiliated private schools. Colleges also recruit home schoolers at a high rate over any other group of incoming freshmen.

Homeschooling offers flexibility. Students may follow the standard school year, or be educated year-round, taking breaks for vacations or liturgical seasons. Homeschoolers can also take family time when a new baby arrives or a grandparent is ill, all while teaching the children the value of family. Time missed can be made up during the summer months or at other times.

The families say there are also opportunities not available to traditionally schooled students, offering homeschoolers a depth and breadth of education unavailable elsewhere. Students have worked for senators at the Capitol, interned at Relevant Radio, attended religious rallies, established their own businesses, engaged in mission work, and taken college courses — all during school hours.
continue at MadCatHerald


  1. When our daughter was under the age of five, I endured two reservist mobilizations. Also we have just one kid -- God's choice, not ours. Anyway, to socialize our kid, to teach her "sharing," and so on, we sent her to daycare for 20 or 25 hours a week. A number of people LOST their minds: How can you allow your gift from God to be "raised" by OTHER people?!?!?

    We began homeschooling after she finished kindergarten at a Catholic school. The SELFSAME people lost their minds: How can you allow your gift from God NOT to be raised by OTHER people?!?!?

    You just can't win some days....

    Anyway homeschooling involves work and dedication but is easier than most people think. I know large families who say the same thing I'm saying about how easy it is, even if it's labor-intensive.

    How to get started: Talk with God, as in pray about homeschooling. Talk with your kid(s) and spouse. If it's a good fit, try it out. DON'T waffle with your kids about doing this all the way to 12th grade once you've started...I've heard that for every year a kid spends in "regular" schooling, (s)he needs one month to adjust to homeschooling. Remember Lot's wife. Remember the Hebrews wanting to go back to SLAVERY in Egypt rather than be free in Sinai. It doesn't matter WHICH school your kids attend, ALL kids gripe about going to school and doing schoolwork from time to time.

    Also you need to find an approach that fits your kid(s) -- e.g. Great Books (ala Charlotte Mason), "school-at-home" (ala Seton or Our Lady of Victory), cyber-schooling (ala Kolbe or Fisher More), classical ed that YOU put together (ala Peace Hill Press's _Well-Trained Mind_), unschooling, et cetera. Talk to people whom you respect who are doing it. Realize there are tons of resources to do it. There are also lots of homeschooling groups out there for mutual encouragement, help, and socialization.

    Academics: If you're qualified to teach arithmetic, get an arithmetic program and teach your child; such programs come with lesson plans that are "cookbook-easy" -- you do the lesson, read the questions that are provided to you, and then tease the answer(s) out of your kid (the questions and the answers are provided for you). Such suppliers also provide tests and homework sheets -- and then the answer keys to both. If your kid is older and expresses an interest in: something about which you know nothing (e.g. advanced music theory) or something "off-the-wall" though worthwhile (e.g. Italian), find a Catholic class online that is age-appropriate and park your kid in front of the computer. There is a teacher on the other end of the computer, a dozen other kids enrolled in the class, and your kid will learn about time management and homework.

  2. Socialization: AFTER the school day, try to provide for LOTS of this. My child's in a weekly rosary group, the deanery choir, weekly piano lessons, the Y's swim team, and two "knock-off" versions of the Girl Scouts. Homeschooled kids generally don't need a lot of homework; homeschooling for a few to several hours a day is pretty intense for their little minds. Kids NEED fun!

    Pluralism: Get your kid ready for life after leaving your house. Teach them how to pray in a variety of Catholic ways and get them in the habit of prayer -- they'll need it. Teach them that we obey God's rules on bad language and EVERY OTHER issue because we love God, we obey God, and God is just trying to keep us safe. Teach them to be a saint, but DON'T paint all sinners as people who have forked tongues, crimson skin, and pointed tails; they'll get out into the outside world and have to deal with "sinners" and they'll come to find out that many of them are "nice." Unless your kid is called to a religious vocation or homemaking in rural isolation, you need to prepare them for this inevitable encounter with the "world." Teach them why they're Christian and Catholic (i.e. apologetics), teach them not to sin out of loving obedience to God (if nothing else), and teach them what to say when they do encounter "worldly" people who want to force un-Godly words out of their mouths. A decent response: "I have read and understood our company's equal opportunity policy. I have read and understood our company's mission statement. I abide by both." Then walk away.

    Nationally Standardized Testing: We did it a couple times. Without any coaching or prep my kid answered EVERY question correctly. Between this and my mother taking our daughter into a bedroom and having her read a couple chapters of a book that was a few years OVER her grade-level (my kid read every word correctly and knew what each one meant), our extended families have some sense of relief. (They're still convinced that brick-and-mortar schools are the only way to go.) I don't know that we'll bother with the nationally-standardized tests again for a couple years at the least.

    Anyway, homeschooling's easier than many think, even if it is a lot of work. Homeschooling is more rewarding than you've ever imagined. You get less than two decades to form each kid and then they're gone. Spend every minute you can with them now. It's easier than spending years being "Saint Monica" later.

    God bless!


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