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Question: My oldest daughter is 2 years old. So far we only have two children (the younger is a little boy, 6 months). I am amazed at how much my daughter LOVES being with other children. I am not much for mom's groups, and the other orthodox Catholic families in my area are all busy raising their own families. My husband and I help lead the parish youth group, so my daughter gets to interact with the children of the other leaders on Sunday evenings--it is her favorite time of the week! I worry that by homeschooling instead of putting her in the parish school, she will miss out on this vital part of her character. I feel God calling me to homeschool, and I WANT to, but I also want to honor this beautiful part of my daughter's character. How do you suggest socializing a very social child when you don't have a large family? I am working on just placing this in God's hands and trusting, but I also think I need to be active in pursuing solutions. Thank you for any and all advice!
Answer:

Dear Mom,

It is a blessing that you have plenty of time to pray and think about homeschooling.  Start by getting your hands on Homeward Bound by Kimberly Hahn.  She writes an excellent book about the benefits and hardships of homeschooling, and gives practical advice on how to educate at home.  The topic of socializing is addressed through out this resource and Mrs. Hahn will ease your concerns.  Talk to moms who homeschool

I will briefly share with you just a few of the wonderful gifts my own family has received by educating at home.  Our family has an opportunity to live out our faith daily by educating at home, praying through out the day, learning formal faith formation, and attending Mass and adoration regularly.  My children know more about their Catholic faith than I did as a child, they go to Jesus in times of joy and need, and they love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  As they grow, they also see where God fits into the past, present and future of formal studies like Social Studies, Science and Literature.

By being together during the school day, our family's christian character grows by socializing with one another.  My older children participate in several household chores, and play with my younger children.  My younger children are learning to use gentle words; and learning how to play nicely with one another.  We are working on virtues and temperaments that show respect to one another and our Father; and discovering ways to raise a joyful family.  A safe, family environment, large or small, is a perfect place for developing strong character and for becoming "socially intelligent."

One-on-one tutoring is another benefit of homeschooling.  Children have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others.  By working individually with your children you will be able to focus on difficult studies, and move quickly through studies that are easier.  You will consistently know how your children are performing academically, and socially, because you are their primary teacher. 

Now, let's talk about socializing your friendly two-year-old.  If your parish school teaches the true teachings of the Church, Catholic School may be another good choice for your little girl.  However, don't discount homeschooling because of social concerns. If you choose to homeschool, you will meet other families who homeschool.  You may be able to join a support group that participates in field trips and Catholic events.  Your little girl will get to know other home educated children, and enjoy the many activities that go along with home educating.  She can continue to participate in parish youth groups, so that she knows families outside of home educating.  Community education, to get active or be enriched academically, is another great opportunity to meet friends along the way.  Finally, neighborhood friends who you might invite your way can provide nice relationships.  If they are at your house you can watch for behaviors that concern you, or make you feel confident in your child's choice of friends. 

I have a very social eleven-year-old.  From a very early age she was energized by other children her age.  Although she is educated at home, I have no concerns about her socially, because we make the effort for her to see her friends in our parish, home educating co-op and through community education.  I believe that if my daughter was in a school setting outside of the home she would probably struggle, because the social aspect of the schools would become more important to her than her studies.

Do not make a decision regarding homeschooling without talking it over with your husband, researching this very important decision, and most importantly praying and trusting in God for awhile longer.  Whatever you decide, remember Catholic Heritage Curricula is enthusiastic about educating at home, and we are here for families like yours.  Our lesson plans will get you off to a beautiful start.

Blessings to you and yours,

Julia Johnson

   
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