And you homeschool too?

Yes, it’s called being a glutton for punishment.

I spent all but two years in good public schools. The two years I went to a parochial school, second and third grade, were good ones too. My husband went to a public kindergarten, but his first through twelfth grades were parochial. We were absolutely committed to sending our children, no matter the cost, to our parish’s school. We even enrolled our oldest in the preschool program for two years as a first step to getting him in to the school since we had heard that preferential treatment was given to those children.

But…

The first issue that came up regarding this decision was the quality of the education and the orthodoxy of the religion program. I knew many mothers of children at that school. The reports weren’t good. The education was on par with the public schools (which was decent), but the spiritual aspect did nothing to increase the benefits of spending all that money. I taught CCD at the parish which used the school so I was in there every week. The final straw, education-wise, came when I saw all the posters celebrating Earth Day. Not a single mention of stewardship. It didn’t bother me one bit that children would learn to take care of the environment. But it really bugged me that parochial school children wouldn’t be taught why we should be doing so.

All of the women I know who had children in that school have ceased sending their children there over the years. Some turned to homeschooling. Some just sent their kids to the public schools, since there was little difference.

The second issue that influenced our decision to homeschool was my husband’s military career. He is in the National Guard and had been doing it part-time (one weekend a month, two weeks a year, plus all those other days and weeks they don’t advertise). For several years he had been trying to get a full-time job, called Active Guard and Reserve (AGR). And then, at the end of 2002, his unit found out that they would be deploying to Kosovo the next year. He would have his full-time military job, but not in the way we had expected!

He left to do training at Fort Stewart, Georgia at the beginning of March 2003. Fritz was in the preschool program at the time, but I knew I wouldn’t be applying for the kindergarten program. My fourth child was due in September. My other three were a bit traumatized by their father’s departure. We needed to hunker down. None of us could have tolerated the stress of getting out the door by a certain hour every day for school. And I had no intention of denying my children time with their dad when he came home on passes before he left for Kosovo or when he came home for good in 2004. That would have meant missed school days, and schools don’t really like that – especially not civilian ones.

Looking ahead to post-deployment, my husband still wanted to be full-time military. This deployment would just be the beginning of a series of disruptions in our children’s schooling. In fact, had Fritz gone to a traditional school, his current year, fifth grade, would be at his fourth school. Worst of all, his first grade year would have been split between two schools. We felt that it was better for our kids to have more consistency than that. Homeschooling affords us a consistent curriculum delivered by the same teacher with the same classmates.

And if we talk about Earth Day, we talk about stewardship too.

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