Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spiritual Help for the Home Schooling Mother

I'm back to struggling with fear and pride again this August. Last year, we had just one disruption after another during our home-schooling year. As I'm struggling with fatigue and morning sickness my constant thought is "God, please don't let us have another year where Alex (my first grader) doesn't learn how to read!"

The Devil is real! The very fact that I'm so caught up in all the complications I'm going to have home-schooling while newly pregnant in a brand new state, is probably proof positive that our 2011-2012 school year is going to be awesome. At least resulting in major spiritual insights and improvements for my children's very flawed teacher, ME!

To fight the Devil at his own game, I'm resolved to NOT spend hours scrutinizing new home-school curriculums online UNTIL I get my heart straight!

BE IT RESOLVED THAT: This home-school year is about growing in spiritual formation for me and all of my babies.

My job as a teacher is to fight sloth and timidity in myself.

My 3rd grader's job is to strengthen her virtue of perseverance.

My 1st grader's job is to practice obedience by doing short bursts of activities that he doesn't like.

My four year old's job is to practice patience.

Every day, I'm going to use school work as a method of strengthening these fundamental spiritual virtues in my children and in myself. If we do our work "well for Jesus" each day, that counts as success.

Hopefully, I'll be able to put together lots of inspiring Scripture and examples from the lives of the Saints to help me fight the vice of pride in thinking homeschooling is more about "making myself look good by having super smart kids" and more about the humble work of serving Jesus.

St. Ann, pray for me!


  1. If you do reading lessons with your child when they are actually both ready and interested they learn to read quickly. If you force the issue (sort of like with potty training) before they are ready and interested it takes a long, long time (sometimes years). The best thing to do to spur interest is to read to them and find books that are simple readers on subjects in which they are really, passionately interested. My oldest taught himself how to use an index at 6 because he wanted to find specific pages in the Peterson field guide to birds. He had only really been reading for a few months at that time. Primers can be very, very boring, so use them for as short a time as possible.

    But really and truly, the best thing you can do for your homeschool (trust me, I've been there) is lots and lots of read aloud books and a minimal number of workbook pages. I have heard good things about Singapore math, although I'm not familiar with it myself. I also knew some people who really liked Making Math Meaningful. Could I recommend Karen Edmisten's blog (especially the older posts) as a great place for homeschooling moms to look for ideas. Karen is a real eclectic type homeschooler who's also really concerned about her kids spiritual growth. The blog is located at

  2. Have you considered that maybe this is not the year to homeschool? Maybe because you're pregnant and in a new state it would make more sense to send your kids to go to brick & mortar school for one year while you establish yourself. I am a fan of homeschooling, have done it myself for years, but sometimes the stress is not the devil - it may be a calling to be open to something different. Maybe the humble thing to do is to reconsider homeschooling. Just a thought.

  3. I love these goals for your family this year! Growth in these areas are really what maturity is all about. And the "schoolish" subjects can fit it perfectly with the day to day practice of that. Reminds me of the verse, " seek first the kingdom of God, and all the rest will be given to you as well. "
    Blessings on your upcoming year!

  4. Abby, we are so closely united in some many things (me not with the baby thing right now I have been having a lot of fear about this upcoming school year, considering that my also then 1st grader could not read (she still has problems but is getting better), and living with a child with special needs/autism. I have been putting our stuff together and FIGHTING the powerful urge to be perfect! In academics and spiritual formation. It is God who wants me to teach my children, and He will teach all of us if I just step out of the way, let go of the reins, and TRUST. God loves you so much, I can see that. May I quote our lovely St. Teresa of Avila that in loving His "friends so much, it's wonder He has so few?" lol

  5. We're about the same age and when we were kids, it was not unusual for kids to learn how to read in first grade. I know I did! And I was old for my class (turned 7 the fall of first grade). It didn't hurt me at all - went to college and grad school. Nowadays the pressure is for kids to read early and if they don't, there's something wrong. I almost fell over at my oldest child's kindergarten orientation when I found out that half the kids already were reading. When we were kids, there were early readers but they were the exception not the rule. Now all these early readers I think are a reflection of our daycare society.

  6. I love this. Thank you for the much needed perspective. I'm saving this to remind myself what goals truly matter.