Monday, August 17, 2009

When Back to School is really Stay-at-Home

Our lovely guest blogger is Sarah from Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering, who by the way has just re-vamped her blog. So, you should go take a look when you can. Sarah offers us a look at "back-to-school" decisions in her household this fall which required lots of prayer, discernment and love.

When Back-to-School is Stay-at-Home
By Sarah Reinhard

"I have always loved back-to-school, though I haven’t been in school myself for a number of years. There’s the excitement of school supplies, for one thing. How can I not feel that the world is at my fingertips when notebooks are 10 for $10? I always feel like there’s untapped possibility that will burst forth from the rainbow of the big box of crayons. And the pens and pencils are enough to send me into fits of ecstasy.

Six years ago, before I was even pregnant with my oldest daughter, I came into intimate contact with a friend who was discerning homeschooling. It seemed novel to me, and I signed up for some email lists and started researching online. It seemed hard to think about ever having children of my own, much less homeschooling them. After all, both my husband and I had gone to schools and we had pretty much enjoyed it.

In the past six years, I’ve learned a lot about homeschooling and I’ve watched friends dive in. I’ve made new friends who are old pros at homeschooling and I’ve made notes and read books and fretted and prayed.

This fall will mark my first foray into the deep waters of actually doing what I’ve been reading so much about.

And, to tell you the truth, I’m a little nervous.

Back-to-school is supposed to mean big yellow school buses, new shoes, unmarked notebooks. Just where am I supposed to find a school bus?

For me, the decision to try homeschooling has been based on two key foundations. First, it’s not life or death; it’s not a decision that has to last for the rest of our lives. We can try it this year and discern that next year will involve something different. We might need to remain flexible about our children’s education, because what we think is best might just be what Mommy wishes were best (as opposed to what God thinks is best).

Second, this is a calling. There is discernment. For me, that equals many hours of prayer, many more hours of talking to my husband and various friends and advisers, and some time to just get used to the idea.

Though I’m tempted to dance with the idea of perfection and I tend toward a strict and rigid “this is how it’s going to be” approach to life, motherhood has been teaching me, through the testing grounds of work I never planned to do, that flexibility is the name of the game.

Have I mentioned that I don’t “do” flexibility all that well? Did you know that my life is often organized in a spreadsheet? Do you have any idea what it means to offer up your sacred cup to the One who gave you the blessing of that cup in the first place?

For me, embarking on this back-to-school adventure while planning to stay at home is nothing less than a leap of faith. Oh, there will be plenty of “trips” and more than a little collaboration with a good friend. And I suspect there will be a fair share of bad days.

That’s not enough to keep me from trying to follow the call I hear, though. We’ll be spending our year of preschool at home, right in the heart of the domestic church God has blessed us with. Whether it’s a success might just depend on how much I’m willing to let Him run the show."

Sarah Reinhard blogs about her farm life, recent reads, and Catholic contemplations at “just another day of Catholic pondering.”


  1. Beautiful article. I know all of those feelings so well, and have been through the exact same process of agonizing whether we were doing the right thing or not. But when spouses pray over it together and talk about it and come to the same opinion that such a course of action will be best for a child, then they must trust they have been guided to the right decision. Homeschooling is a lot of work but worth it in the long run.

  2. I've always had great admiration for home-schooling moms, though I've never seen myself in that role for a variety of reasons. Still, I applaud wholeheartedly those who are stepping bravely into the world of learning at/teaching from home. I'll be saying prayers it goes well!

  3. We are jumping into homeschooling this year full time and feeling the same emotions like Sarah. It's hard when the norm is going with the culture and popular trends...I keep praying to the Blessed Mother that She may lead me to the right path as a wife and mother in my daily decisions. Sarah and her family will be in my prayers. Thanks and God bless you!

  4. Good luck Sarah! I like your life or death statement, that is exactly how I feel. Home Schooling is so much fun, and it's so wonderful to watch them blossom. I find we have such a hard time fitting in school with all the social I hope you have better luck.

    Remember when you home school, it's all about the relationship...the school happens.

  5. Thanks, Elena and Roxane, for your kind comments and support!

  6. Wow..I would never even consider embarking on this adventure. I began to panic when there was a chance I'd have to home school my son on PSR. I wish you the best of luck!


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