Posted by: L. E. Barnes | August 24, 2010

Changing Gears

A friend from my parish, a fellow Catholic blogger, felt compelled by her circumstances to stop homeschooling her daughters and put them back in Catholic schools this year. She wrote about her decision on her blog, “A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars.” I found her post very touching, and so I’ll share it with you:

We won’t be homeschooling our daughters this year, they will attending Catholic schools instead.  After much struggle and prayer, it is for the best.  Basically, we were an island, we didn’t have the support we needed, the “Christian” homeschool support group wasn’t open to our faith, so none of their children could play with our children.  The Catholic families that did homeschool, came and went, so there just weren’t enough to do co-ops, fieldtrips, etc. to make it interesting.  Our daughters were lonely and bored, I was running out of options to make things interesting, and my knight has his hands full with his full-time job and taking care of his mother.

Why am I airing this to the world? Because, there are times when decisions made are for the best despite what others think.  Home education is a wonder and noble lifestyle, but it is not for every family, and there can be a time when the family outgrows this mode of education.  It is not perfect, and it is not the easy road as we have seen.  In December, 2002, we made the decision to take our daughters out of the Catholic school for several reasons. Many didn’t agree with our decision and we lost many friends because of it.  It was a dark time socially, but it felt good to us as family, as we progressed during the next few months.

Months turned into years, the girls studied, became reading machines, excelled in their instruments, learned to sew, bake, and crochet.  We accompanied my knight on trips during the year, from Quebec City to Boston, to DC taking in historic sites and learning some of the language.  We attended Mass on Thursdays followed by Krispy Kreme donuts as our tradition the girls looked forward to each week.  They took art classes at the university, volunteered at Give2theTroops, took food to the soup kitchen, and played sports for the county recreational center.  Both girls performed their music in competitions, recitals, and orchestras, at times taking their music to the next level in small bands where they played at the retirement community their grandmother lives in, and at other community events.  It’s been fun and I truly feel that without these past 7.5 years of home education, our daughters would not have had half the experiences they did.

However, with that said, my knight and I feel that they have outgrown this mode of education.  They need to take what we have given them and move on to the next level in an environment that will allow them more friendships, higher level of education, and a community of fellow students from homes that desire the same as we do for our children….or so I hope.

Homeschooling is growing, I read in the paper today. More and more families are making the decision to take their children out of the government-run institutions and providing their children with a safer, more stable, true academically correct education. I’m all for that and agree that the public school system has gone awry. But home education is not for everyone, it is truly not for the weak at heart, mind, and spirit.  It takes work, creativity, and discipline.

It is my prayer that parents will not just take their children to school every day and think they have done their job. Their job is of first priority to instill in their children manners, respect, charity, and a deep sense of responsibility to being truthful, righteous, and fair.  With these qualities, the teachers can then give them the education needed to be ‘somewhat’ prepared for the world. It is the parents that need to be responsible for getting them ready for eternity with good character. No one can do this as well as a loving parent.

On a church marque I saw today: “Some prepare more for summer vacation than for eternity.” I agree. But this mom has a plan. Besides watching every day what her children will be learning at their new schools, I will be praying for them and those that are teaching them. I’ll be volunteering in their schools, the teachers will know me, and I will know them.

If you are a home educating family and it seems that things are not going as well as they once did, pray and ponder with Our Lord.  After a time, give yourself permission to change gears.  The Pillar household is changing gears this year, with lots of apprehension, anxiety, and hope we are taking this new leap of faith.  We could use your prayers and support. thank you

I was homeschooled for a couple of years (5th and 8th grades), so I can readily attest to the veracity of her remarks about homeschooling taking a lot of courage and discipline, as well as its not being right for everyone! It can certainly be more efficient than traditional schooling, though each has its advantages and disadvantages. A family contemplating homeschooling will have to make a tradeoff, whichever way they go. 

I especially appreciate her comment that the parents’ top job is “to instill in their children manners, respect, charity, and a deep sense of responsibility to being truthful, righteous, and fair.” Having worked as a college instructor, I can readily attest that too many young people are woefully deficient in those qualities. Frankly, a number of them seemed utterly clueless about even the most basic common courtesy or respect. How much of that can be blamed on their parents, I don’t know, but at times I wanted to shake my head in disbelief and ask “Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?!”

If any of you are homeschooling your kids, or did so in the past, what have been your experiences? Can you relate to what “Catholic Mom” was saying?



  1. I can relate to what she is saying. I am new to homeschooling. I home schooled my children for a year and then put them back in Catholic school for a year. I was having my 5th child and I was not confident in my ability to teach at that time.

    I don’t know what I will do in 7 years or when my children hit the High School years. I also don’t think I would make it if my children had no friends, they are very social.

    My children play with the neighborhood public school kids, the Catholic school kids, and the Home school kids. There is no worry in the friend department. It might be a different story as they reach the teen years.

    But the good thing is it never hurts to try homeschooling. If it is not for a particular family, the children can always be put back in traditional school. I give A Catholic Mom a lot of credit for sticking with HS for so long and I’m sure her children will do wonderful on their next adventure.

    • Sounds like you made a good decision. No, it never hurts to try homeschooling–as a general rule, anyway. Granted, there are some families that do a very poor job of it and really should just put their kids back in a regular school, but for the most part, the benefits seem to outweight the disadvantages. Of course, circumstances can change, as they did for you and for “Catholic Mom,” necessitating a change of plans. May you and your kids be blessed whichever educational route you end up choosing!

  2. […] Changing Gears […]

  3. Evan, thanks for posting this, and I so appreciate your thoughts on this. As an update: it was a VERY rough fall, and lots of sickness with both girls as they returned to ‘germ land’, but with the holiday break, we rested and celebrated the holidays quietly. When school resumed, it has been a bit better…I still miss them during the day and probably always will from now on.

    See you soon!

    • I remember all the remarks you posted on your blog and on FB about how both you and your daughters were having quite a difficult time making the transition from homeschooling to going back to traditional school. I hope they’re doing well, and I hope you’re able to cope with not having them with you as much!

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