During the weekend of November 19-21, 1999, Catholic homeschooling leaders met in San Antonio, Texas to discuss mutual issues of concern. Topics on the agenda included the growing phenomenon of and newest information on "homeschool" sacramental guidelines, the possible outcomes of various divisions taking place within the movement itself, the importance of keeping the homeschool Catholic, and more.
Parental autonomy was tops on the list, as leaders acknowledged increasing lines of division in local support groups, a problem that came to the forefront in the summer of 1999 when NACHE banned the leading Catholic home study program from its annual east coast conference.
Among those parents who take the time to become "leaders," i.e., those who give freely of their time to help other homeschooling parents, a few told of their experiences with parent-run or other non-diocesan schools in their area. Of the various difficulties encountered with independent schools, homeschoolers found that the schools' organizers inevitably pressured homeschool parents to either assist the schools financially or enroll the homeschooled children, or both.
Three suggestions came forth should homeschooling parents or groups run into schools that seem very interested in enrollling their children:
1) Assess from a spiritual view whether or not it is best to keep the children in the home for education; as the primary educators of their own children, parents should never feel they must give up their children to any school, whether priest-led or lay-led, in order for their children to accomplish God's will. Certain independent schools have been making the claim that more boys will find a vocation (or do, indeed, have a vocation), one that will be lost if the child continues with homeschooling.
2) First ensure and, later, monitor closely the school's attitude toward parents. Do not allow for the undermining of parental authority. The Church teaches that schools are to assist parents, and not the other way around.
3) Before committing to enrolling children in any school, request a meeting to peruse all materials at the parents' leisure. This includes not only grade-levels in which the children might be enrolled, but also following years. The school should not
As reported from the Catholic Homeschoolers of PA Newsletter, issue 41, "One parent noted that regardless of the availability of these schools, Catholic parents need 1) to assess whether or not it is best for their children to remain in a homeschool environment, and 2) to make sure that their parental authority and autonomy is not undermined if aggressive recruiting methods are employed. It was also mentioned that parents should check into the books of such schools before registing as most do not use Catholic books."
Keeping It Catholic, recognized as the leader in this area, was acknowledged for its accomplishments in keeping parents informed about the Catholic Church's teachings on education, suggesting helpful ideas, as well as alerting parents to potential or real threats to that same end. Leaders grasped that those Catholic conferences and bookfairs, endeavoring to keep the materials and speakers distinctively Catholic as suggested by Keeping It Catholic, helped Catholic parents understand the importance of a Catholic education via a heavily Catholic curriculum.
As more Catholic homeschoolers reach high school age, leaders also recognized that parents find the high school years especially challenging, mostly resulting from the following reasons: increasing pressures to socialize the children, restlessness in the teens themselves, a lack of specifically Catholic high school materials, and the mother's obligations to younger children.
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