For me, homeschooling was about pride for a long time. We were going to do everything differently from schooled children, every day, and all the time. There was no way I was going to teach my children like school systems teach or keep such a tight schedule. We will school in our pajamas and we will wake up when our body is ready to wake up! We will go on field trips at least once a week! We will do arts and crafts every day! Free range chickens vs. those chickens in those super crowded, mega sized coups. We are free range chickens!!! At least we were… until I realized that we are not.
I realized that my family has needs that free range chickens do not have. By my family, I mean the mother hen (the rooster kinda goes with the flow most of the time when it comes to homeschooling issues. He mostly steps in to discipline when called upon by a frantic mother hen). Two years ago I gave in and took another look at my Free-Range Chicken Philosophy. Even though we were getting all our schoolwork done, there was an overall feeling of chaos throughout the day. From meal planning to lesson planning to crisis management, it was all improvised. Day in, and day out…free range chickens!
So what was not working with this free range chicken philosophy?
Quite often I am asked about how I deal with teaching religion in our homeschool. My thoughts on this have evolved over our 15+ years of homeschooling, mainly because I have evolved over that same time. When we first began homeschooling I was still in the learning phase of my faith; although I guess a more accurate term would be the “re-learning” phase because supposedly I had learned about my faith during my 10 years in CCD. What a joy it was to go through religion books with my oldest children when they were first starting out and learn right along with them. I think back in those early days we used almost every religion program out there: Seton, Faith and Life, Image of God, The Baltimore Catechism.
As our knowledge and our children grew, we began to venture out into the world of activities more often. We happen to belong to a homeschool group that is very focused on activities that revolve around the faith. It was after a few years of being involved in processions, Masses, field trips to religious places, talks given by priests and lay faithful, religious ceremonies, reading saint stories etc. that I realized that this was our religion class. Yes we still needed to read about the specifics and learn the ins and outs of our faith, but living it is what made it all come to life.