December 6, 2002

Home-Schooling and Home-Discipling

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." —Romans 12:2

To better understand "home-schooling," we should not take the schooling that most of us know as our point of reference. For Christians, "home-schooling" is not primarily schooling or education, but discipling. Discipling includes schooling and education but goes far beyond these activities.

Many parents talk of "deciding to home-school" when their child is five years of age or older. However, parents should decide to home-school when the mother thinks she is pregnant. Home-schooling, or better, home-discipling should be simultaneous with living. Everyone who is living is learning. Schooling, educating, or discipling means to influence the learning process. We should be doing this as soon as possible, as Mary did when she visited Elizabeth and ministered the Holy Spirit to the baby in Elizabeth's womb (Lk 1:41, 15). This was truly early childhood education and discipling!

As parents disciple their children, they must decide how to supplement their work with their children. If their children are baptized as infants, the selection of the children's godparents (sponsors) is a major decision and supplement in home discipling. Other supplements include support groups, special activities, church programs, etc. A parent needs a special call from God, however, to choose such a gigantic supplement to home-discipling as a day-care center or "regular school." These approaches to education are so developed that they, by their size and the time-commitment they require, endanger the position of parents as primary educators and disciplers. This is almost always true in a public school, which does not officially believe that parents are the primary educators. Even in Christian schools, the primary authority and responsibility of the parents are likely to be undermined, even unintentionally, just by the mammoth school structure. In other words, when a supplement is very large, it's difficult for it to remain only a supplement.

Many parents need more resources to supplement their home-discipling than a support group or church activities. But they don't need a whole school system. However, there's not much in-between. Therefore, they choose the school system and put themselves in the background of their children's education, development, and discipling. Thank God for those who are providing more and better resources for home-disciplers, but we need better support services. Today, social workers are trying to keep the elderly in their homes and sending them off to nursing homes only as a last resort. We should also be trying to help children and parents educate and disciple at home. We should send children off to day-care and "regular school" only as a last resort.

Parents, you already are doing some home-schooling. Decide to do it to the fullest. Decide to accept your God-given call to disciple your children. Be careful whom and what you choose to supplement your discipling of your children. Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19). You will obey this most important commandment only if you disciple your children. You have the grace to do it in Jesus' name.

 

Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, May 21, 1994.
Imprimatur: + Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 25, 1994.