the life of a homeschooler

So, y'all, I've been toying with this idea for a while now, and the confirmation from lovely Miss Sarah Marie on a previous post was just the cyber kick-in-the-rear I needed to actually get started.  So here I go!

My brother, Nicholas, and I attended a private Catholic school from kindergarten until I was in the sixth grade, when we decided to join a small homeschool group, St. Augustine’s Homeschool Enrichment Program, which is based out of a nearby Catholic parish.  We loved it, so we stayed until my graduation from high school.

Homeschooling was not easy, that's for certain...  Because of the classical curriculum of the program, we were analyzing William Shakespeare's Henry the Fifth andMilton's Paradise Lost and translating Latin before we even got tothe high school level.  During our high school years, my classmates and I studied Dante's Divine Comedy, The Iliad, and The Song of Roland among other classical books.  We had papers and theses and Latin translations as well as recitations from some of the epic poems we read.
There was a strong focus on critical thinking - knowing how to think instead of what to think, which we all benefited from, and engaged in (at times intense) discussions and debates in the classroom, from the objectivity of goodness to the underlying meanings of Dante’s Inferno to whether or not lunch breakshould be held outside in almost sub-zero temperatures.  Just to tease the headmaster, our friend John-Henry wrote a play about the latter topic, in which we were all cast as ourselves, and performed at the year-end’s festivities for our parents and guests. 
The common belief that all of us homeschoolers can stay in our pajamas all day and conduct our schoolwork on the couch is not always true – at least it wasn’t for Nick and me.  We were up and ready for 8:30 Mass every morning (begrudgingly at times, I admit) - two days at our homeschool group and the others at a parish a few miles down the road.  Our schedule was not as flexible as other families we know, considering our tutoring was scheduled for a good part of the day three days a week, but it worked for our academic needs.
This leads me to my favorite thing about my homeschool career...  God was the center of everything.  There were no rules or regulations my parents or we had to fear when it came to putting God and the Bible into our curriculum.  Everything was centered on our faith. For one thing, the purpose of our Scripture class during the junior and senior years of high school was to read almost the entire Bible from the front cover to the back, while our tutor guided us through a Catholic interpretation of it.  What a blessing it was to study with a group of like-minded and enthusiastic peers.
Another of the tremendous homeschool blessings was how much time my family was able to spend together.  Of course we had the typical sibling quibbling and snafus– like who had to put the dishes away, or whose turn it was to sit in the treehouse to do their homework (because, of course, sharing was out of the question…), but that was outweighed by the joys of it.  We were able to have our meals together except on the days we were in tutoring, we went for walks in the woods and on “field trips” to parks and museums...  We attended daily Mass together, had a weekly adoration hour at our parish, and still pray at a local Planned Parenthood every Thursday morning.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom, so she was always on call if we had a question or concern or if we wanted to present any sibling grievances we might have.
My father is a carpenter, and once we completed our studies and household duties, we were welcome - oftentimes invited - to join him on the job site - which was both fun and educational.  With our dad, Nick and I built my mom's chicken coop for her.  We learned how to operate power tools (smaller ones while we were young, and the heavier-duty equipment as we grew older).  We pounded staples and cut wood and so many other things, while our dad showed usthe duties of the trade he loves.
I've heard comments over the years about how our social lives are affected byhomeschooling - some think we are unprepared to have relationships outside of the family because of how much time we spend at home...  Really, though, the friends I made at our group are truly priceless, and I've gushed about them plenty of times on this here bloggy of mine...  At the group, we had drama club where we performed the plays of Shakespeare on a full stage to a legitimate audience, and we participated in a Latin choir conducted by a world class operatic.  And though projects with the group and with dad were a good part of our extracurricular activities, even though we still had our own interests.  Nick was the soccer player, and was on a rather prestigious local team from a very young age until he graduated from high school and left for college.  I attempted soccer for a while until I discoveredmy true love was for horses, and trucked off to get full of mud and horse hair every chance I had.
I’ve dabbled in many things over the years - film making and writing mostly (I write this blog, obviously), and I have owned and operated a pet-sitting company with my mother since I was eleven years old.  I had a wonderful homeschool education.  And I survived quite well, I believe.  It has given me astrong foundation of faith, morals and critical thinking skills, as well as the confidence to enter a secular world and begin my schooling and search for acareer while staying true to my Faith as a Catholic.
Now, all of that being said, I was part of a unique homeschool group with an exceptional curriculum based solely on the study of the classics and the Catholic Faith...  Each group, co-op, and home curriculum will have different pros and cons and qualities that may or may not fit your child or family.  But either way, I strongly encourage parents with their children to consider homeschooling.  The blessings are plentiful, and the family time will be treasured forever - it's just something you don't get from a school. At least in my experience.
Have a great day, y'all!  Make it a great day!


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