I am very happy for you that you have heard the Lord's unique call for your life and are stepping out in faith to follow that call. This is a powerful witness and one that is uplifting for the Body of Christ. Thank you for sharing this with me.
I was attracted to the lesson plans that CHC has prepared because they are fundamentally in keeping with our family ideals with regards to homeschooling. The lesson plans are user friendly, totally Catholic, and cost effective. I especially enjoy using the workbooks because they are so well prepared and meet the educational needs of my students. I am drawn to workbooks for the ease with which they can be incorporated into the real life teaching of homeschooling parents. One of the greatest advantages I have found in using these workbooks has been the simplicity with which we are able to accomplish our schoolwork for the day. This frees us up for the creative activities that drew me to the homeschooling lifestyle in the first place.
Materials that are not didactic and complicated give parents the freedom to move beyond the lesson at hand and meet the particular needs of the student. For example, one of my daughters is using the spelling workbook for the 5th grade. An entire lesson can be accomplished in one week and is presented very handily on two pages. The answer key is in the back of the book. There are enrichment exercises included in the work pages. She uses the words in the spelling lesson for creative writing exercises. She even likes to color the line drawings on the pages. Because the format is teacher/student sensitive my daughter is able to complete the work without my help. This is important as it fosters a personal work ethic that will serve her well in the coming years of homeschooling, especially at the highschool level.
The foundation of any education is the dedication of the teacher to instill in her students a desire for knowledge. Children are naturally curious and want to do their best. They enjoy the personal competition of completing tasks well. It is important that children find the quest of knowledge to be thrilling and enjoyable. I am better able to live up to this ideal when I am using materials that allow for the unique learning styles of each child. I thank the Lord for the creativity I see in myself when I am able to move out of the box and foster the imaginations of my children. Education and the thirst for knowledge is a wondrous gift. A gift this beautiful must be nurtured. This is the basis of the classical education.
At your little boy's age, it is the desire to watch him learn and discover the world that creates a classical education following in the style of great teachers. Hands-on play, exuberant creativity, and plenty of positive reinforcement are the hallmarks of education.
There must be structure, but the structure should merely be the bones of the experience. Curricula that allow for freedom, celebrate and nurture the Catholic faith, and are easy for parents to use and understand will do more for a child's education than can be realized.
Homeschooling should be a joy. It is true that it is many times hard work, but the joy should be there for the students to appreciate the gift of homeschooling. I will tell you that my first priority in choosing homeschooling materials was that they must be totally Catholic. I just knew in my heart that this is where I would find my peace in those times that challenges presented a burden. CHC's motto is Educating for Eternity. This is my greatest desire as a mother; to be reunited with all my children in Heaven. I want them to develop a spiritual innocence and a zeal for the beauty of the Catholic faith. A faith that is the fullness of Jesus' teachings and will for our lives.
Right now as I write to you, the children are outside filming a movie that they have written. It appears to loosely resemble Homer's Odyssey. :) The history books, the math texts, the spellers and grammar are put away and now the creativity can get into full swing. There will be no tedious hours of homework or repetitious facts to memorize because now they are "playing" and creating. This to me is the essence of a classical education. The desire to learn for the purest reasons. The desire to take what has been learned and incorporate that into our life with joy. I want my children to look at life and say "How wonderful. Did you see that? Why does that happen? Where can I find out more? Someday I want to..."
I hope this has helped. I am certain that you will do a wonderful job with homeschooling. Keep the focus where it belongs, go to the Lord in prayer each day, ask the Holy Spirit to anoint your efforts and foster a spirit of docility within yourself and the good and tender Jesus will honor your work.
You are an inspiration to me. Though I have been homeschooling quite a while, I feel that your witness has caused me to examine my goals a bit closer. I want to approach each day of the homeschooling experience as though it were the first day of the journey. I praise God and thank Him for your letter.
Jesus, we ask that each homeschooling family be allowed the graces necessary to renew their efforts for Your glory. Give us the clear knowledge of Your will in our lives and the strength to do that will each day. Please bless the work of homeschooled children. Lord, let them grow in knowledge and reverence for You. Jesus, we love You and strive to bring our children to You so that they may better able merit Heaven. Help us, Lord, in this task. Amen.
Sending out a prayer,