Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Last Saturday was the big day.  Bryan and I were heading to a local homeschool conference that was literally right around the block from our old house.  The plan was to register our girls whether they liked it or not in Seton's homeschool program.  After years of pestering, Bryan finally gave me the green light for homeschooling despite the fact that he still had some reservations.  So in theory, it looked like MY homeschool plans were going to fall into place on Saturday.

Let me start off by saying I'm not a Latin Mass girl.  I could totally get into the Latin aspect of it with no problem, but I'm sorry, I can't get into the head covering and skirt wearing thing.  Given a choice between the two I'd happily cover my head with some cute kerchief or snood, but skirts on a regular basis just aren't going to happen for me anytime in the near future if ever.  It's just not me, unless of course, we're talking about a cute sundress.  But I digress.  I knew going into this conference, which was held at the Latin Mass parish in our diocese,  that I was very likely to find myself being an oddity in my cute top and sweater paired with *gasp* jeans.  Yes, I was that woman, not only wearing pants, but jeans.  I saw a few men in jeans but I was the lone woman.

Anyway, how I was dressed wasn't the issue, nor should it have been.  I went and looked through the curriculum at Seton, Mother of Divine Grace and one other homeschool place.  I was impressed with how thorough the Seton material is.  Looking at the other places confirmed what I thought when I researched them on line, simply that they weren't the program for us.  I did get the impression that Seton's curriculum is a great way to ram Catholicism down your child's throat.  I don't want to say that it's bad, but I don't think the way to inspire someone to learn and embrace her faith is to foist it upon her in an overbearing way.  I suppose it works great for many families, but I can totally see how this approach could send many children screaming for the hills.

Despite the issues I saw with the curriculum, and Bryan's reaction to the curriculum, I still thought there might still be some hope in this homeschooling venture.  Then I spoke to the son of a Seton representative.  He asked if he could help us and unfortunately, he couldn't give me the answers I wanted to a question about the curriculum.  Then I decided to ask if he was homeschooled.  It turns out that he is, and when asked how he likes it, his response was very telling, and not in a good way.  It was evident based on his response that he wasn't exactly thrilled.  I asked him a few more questions and all my concerns about pretty much forcing this lifestyle on my daughters were realized.  Bryan and I wandered around the conference for a little while more.  We noticed things like children who looked incredibly unhappy, people with poor social skills (as in, they didn't interact well with others) and the family with children ranging from what I would guess ages 4 to 14 dressed in sailor suits.  After passing that family on our way out there was no way I'd be able to salvage my attempts to keep Bryan's support for homeschooling.  In short, my plans went up in smoke and it took less than an hour.

I know many of my readers are homeschoolers.  And I know that many of you are regular mainstream people (I know this based on your blog posts and pictures, and in some cases, our email correspondence.).  Unfortunately, none of you were at this conference to help me prove to my husband that I could homeschool our girls and not turn them into social nightmares.

I know neither of my girls had their heats set on homeschooling.  In fact, Ellie has been pretty adamant for the past two years that she is going to school.  Madeline has been a waffle on the issue which I have come to learn is the result of her not wanting to disappoint me.  It appears that both of my girls are pretty set on attending public school.  Neither one wanted to attend our local parish school which was another failed educational pursuit.

So now I will do my best to come to peace with the fact that the girls will attend the public schools.  I know the K-4 school is decent so I don't have any worries about Ellie.  I will supplement at home, as I have always done, and I will make my presence known at the school.  Madeline will attend the middle school next year and I will be praying that all goes well and that she isn't corrupted by the middle school kids on the bus.

On many levels I'm disappointed that homeschooling isn't going to work for us.  But oddly enough, I feel that I'm gradually becoming more at peace with the situation.  At the end of the day I want to know that the kids are happy and aren't resentful of the choices Bryan and I make for them.  I can tell you there was much rejoicing on their part this weekend when they learned that they will both be attending public school in September.  Madeline couldn't wait to tell her friends the news.  Bryan said it best as I laid in bed moping about the situation, "The girls are happy. Isn't that what we want for them?"  I suppose he's right.

To those of you who homeschool I have to say that I really respect and admire what you do.  Many of you inspire me to do more to further my children's education. You have also lead me to some great homeschooling sources which I use to supplement at home.   And for that, I thank you.


  1. We'll be starting our 8th year of homeschooling in August. Not once--ever--did I attend a conference, even when friends invited me.

    I really don't think the conference itself illustrates effectively what homeschoolers are like, because each conference draws a group of the same people. Thus, it doesn't illustrate the diversity of homeschooling. BTW: Although Seton has been helpful to many of my friends, it definitely does not suit us. So, for Catholic-based curriculum, I used Cathoic Heritage Curricula. It's effective and beautifully written.

    Also, many kids in their early teen years beg their parents to attend school, but it's the parents who must make the decision, not the child. So, sometimes, you will meet teens who are in a typical power play with their parents and present to others that they are miserable. It's part of a being a normal, healthy teen. Nevertheless, the parents need to make the decision because they have the life experience.

    And so we as parents need to make the decision for our children. Whatever that leads to. The great thing about homeschooling is that it give everyone options, LOTS of options. And if you choose to the option to send your children to public school, then that is a viable option as well.

  2. Yikes! The conference does sound like a nightmare! I'm still wincing over the sailor suits!

  3. Cam, the sailor suits are an image that I likely will not be able to get out of my head for a long time. I felt so bad for their daughter who had to be somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. The kicker was they had two small boys with them (also in white sailor suits circa early 1900s) who were clearly under age 10. This conference had a policy of no children under age 10 with the exception of nursing infants.

    In all honesty, if I had known I was going to to be taking my husband to the side show of homeschooling, I never would have bothered. Just attending the conference single handedly derailed years of convincing my husband that I could homeschool our kids and remain normal mainstream members of society. I'm consoling myself with the fact that the kids are happy (delighted, even) and that many people attend public school and do not come out as dregs of society.

  4. Hi Karen, I saw your blog link through Gardenia and came over to say hello. I've been blogging only since Jan of this year and have met wonderful Catholic and Christian women! It's been a blessing.

    Wanted to mention that I'm not a homeschooling mom and my son is going to public school and is at the end of his 5th grade year. We're struggling with the fears of middle school and buses and he will be shadowing one day this week at the Catholic School in our city. I want to keep our options open and have him check out both environments. But it's a big decision... so I'm praying hard on this one!

  5. Girl...I have been OFFline for weeks! Just so busy at home, and I feel I've been a bad friend to you. I've missed our e-mails.

    I totally hear what you are saying. We didn't go with just one school for that reason - I needed a balance of materials...not just everything Catholic or to ram down their throat either. So I'm sorry your husband has the wrong view of schooling now. But do what you feel called to do!!! There is no one right way to learn!

    How we balanced it out, was I followed the recommendations of "The Well Trained Mind" and we loved it this year. Just the right balance of faith and scholarship. I could pick and choose my own materials.

    Now, next year I'm looking at doing (or just google k12) because it is FREE and they send EVERYTHING to you. I can supplement for our faith studies, and they will do my paperwork for me! That will be so nice with having a baby!

    I commend you for discerning what is best for your family. I'm here for you if you ever need!!

    Much love!