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12 May 2011


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I haven't had a lot of time to develop my mom persona, but I'm just guessing that slacker nerd mom might be an apt descriptor...though crafts are in the geek out column for me.

LeeAnn Balbirona

Maybe. I've done the transition between homeschool and public school twice--out, in, out, in--and I've decided it's best for them to stay in. Different problems but not really fewer of them in either situation. Next year we are going for the third option, parochial school, in part because it simplifies our lives--one school for all four of them for one year.


I'm pretty sure I'm a Slacker Nerd Mom too. way back in high school I used to Geek Out writing reading lists for my prospective children. Combine that with my deep antipathy for grades as an educational motivator and a loathing of getting up and out early in the morning and I've felt that homeschooling was tailor-made for me from the first time I heard of it.

It's not that I expect it to be easy, just that I prefer the kind of difficulties I'm likely to face in homeschooling to the kind I'm likely to face in sending my kids to school.


"It's not that I expect it to be easy, just that I prefer the kind of difficulties I'm likely to face in homeschooling to the kind I'm likely to face in sending my kids to school."

Melanie--this is exactly how I feel about it. And Erin, you have described my maternal philosophy so well!

I'm finding that the more children we have, the more protective I am of the things I "Geek Out" about and the more "Why Bother" I am about all the rest. My husband and I discern our family priorities and our personal priorities and we go from there and try not to worry about the rest. There are only so many hours in the day, only so much energy to go around.

Anyway, I love the way you've described this and will be reading it to my husband tonight. :)


I don't know if I geek out about too many things, but I'm real big on the "Why Bother" scale.

Just kidding, ha ha! There are several areas I take very seriously, and about the rest (school fundraisers, anyone? lockers?) I couldn't give a flip, which is why homeschooling is a good fit for us. Also, I *like* teaching my kids, which is pretty key.


I think life with children is difficult no matter how you do it. I like quiet during the day, I like order and I don't like messes involving science experiments, arts & crafts and cooking/baking (unless I'm doing it). Basically I like running solo and I like my children in school during the day. If I didn't like it, I would keep them at home.


Jennifer: That is a refreshingly honest thing to read.


I actually feel like Jennifer. I remember reading a post by Danielle Bean -- something along the lines of her annual panic rant about homeschooling. In it, she made a comment about just wanting space to be able to _breathe_. I agree. But we homeschool because overall it is the best: the schools around here are not good and there are drug problems by many of the student population. And I want to be able to work on character. I am not the greatest teacher, but we get better at this homeschooling thing every year. I struggle with comparing myself to others -- being jealous, discontent, fearful of inadequate education, etc. But I think the most important factor for me to remember, what I remind myself every day, that it is not only about their formation but also about mine. We are all on this journey together and my character and faith are formed as much as the children's. Right now my vocation includes homeschooling, and my kids' vocations includes homeschooling. And hopefully we are all on the path of holiness to heaven together.


I guess what I've always objected to is this attitude that in order to be a good Catholic mother you should homeschool, because as parents, we are the first educators of our children. I never wanted to be a teacher, ever. I studied art history in college and ended up working on a crazy trading floor on Wall Street in the post 87 boom. It was fun and I made a lot of jack but it completely wore me out. I hated being around people all day long, especially loud people and the verbal fights and just the general mayhem. When I had my first child, I just knew that I wanted to be home and alone. I quit my job and never looked back.

I think if you are your child's main academic teacher you should be happy about the job and do it with joy and grace. I'm sure all of you do. I just hate the sometimes implied notion that we should all be doing this, it's the best way, it's the only way to keep your kids Catholic, holy, etc. etc. That's what bothers me. It doesn't take into account a mother's particular situation, her personality, aptitude or desire to do so.


Hmmmm... well, I am thinking the two posts by "Jennifer" are by the same person. And while I may be overreacting, I just want to make sure that I communicate I was not trying, in any way, to tell you, Jennifer, that you should homeschool. We are the first educators of our children and for each of us that means different things. I am not sure I do our homeschooling 'job' with joy and grace. But I do it because I feel it is best for us. I definitely think not all Catholic moms need to homeschool. I have Christian friends who absolutely believe that all Christians should homeschool. I think there are just too many variables and we each have to make the best decision.

Now, having said all of that, you may not have been responding to me at all. :)


Hi Delores,
No, I don't think you meant that. I think that you should do what you want to do. And if I wanted to homeschool my children, I'd do it, and I'd be happy about it, because why do it if you don't want to do it?


I've been homeschooling for 17 years and have possibly 12 more to go. However, I don't like teaching and I don't think I am very good at it. Some of my children have poor attitudes about learning which I think is because of my criticalness and impatience. And I'm just not a natural teacher. I'm a doer and most of my doing (like gardening or sewing) I like to do by myself. I have aversions to math and science and so do my kids. Maybe if I were a Geek or Nerd it would be easier to get passionate about schooling. I homeschool because it is better than public school and there are no Catholic schools here (even if we could afford them).


Oh Kate! Thank you for posting this because you wrote exactly whatI feel, only substitute knitting for sewing! I learn by reading; I am a self learner. I have taken many courses online and that is a good fit for me. Homeschooling is hard for me because I just want to hand my kids some books and say "Read this" since that is how I learn; that is not how they learn. I am thankful, Kate, to know I am not alone in this area.


Jennifer, I definitely don't think that all Catholic mothers should homeschool. My mother did, and it wasn't the best thing, by a long shot.

Sometimes poor homeschooling may be better than poor institutional schooling -- I understand and sympathize with that. I'm going to go a step further and say that homeschooling should only be done in a family that is intact and healthy. Kids need a stable educational environment. If the home isn't stable, they need to be somewhere that is, and that's why I'll never object to public schools. For some kids, it's the only source of order, continuity, lunch, etc. in their lives.

But that's a different thing from saying that all intact, stable families should homeschool. It happens that I like it pretty well, and I like having the educational control (control as in the ability to be more expansive in educational choices, as opposed to locked into whatever curriculum and methods the school is using). Homeschooling is one educational choice among many, and it can be done well or poorly, just as public or Catholic schools can be good or poor.


Mrs. Darwin,
That is the way it should be!


Sometimes I wonder if I homeschool because I'm a control freak with a passion for education (ok, let's say I geek out for learning, that sounds better) that I would have serious issues signing over responsibility for that substantial area of my children's life to someone else. There are a few schools I've read/heard about that I would consider, but none are anywhere near here! That and the fact that I absolutely abhor having to participate in fundraisers... and I can't stand the idea of sticking my kids on a bus for 1.5 largely unsupervised hours per day!

Not to take the discussion in a different direction, but I'm intrigued by the interview requirement for first communion. My DRE would like to do this in our parish, but has been hesitant to do so - largely I think because she's not quite sure she's allowed to and because she's not sure who should do it or what to ask.

Who does the interview in your parish, and could you tell me a little about the content? I'm going to a half day meeting on the 21st where the topic is making some substantial changes to the Sacrament prep and the faith formation programs at our parish, so it is something I'm thinking a lot about right now. Thanks!


The interview is to satisfy a Canon Law requirement. See here:


"Canon 914. It is the responsibility, in the first place, of parents and those who take the place of parents as well as of the pastor to see that children who have reached the use of reason are correctly prepared and are nourished by the divine food as early as possible, preceded by sacramental confession; it is also for the pastor to be vigilant lest any children come to the Holy Banquet who have not reached the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed."


A little more detail. So, it's the parents' responsibility to prepare their children for reception of communion (which can include delegating some or all of the catechesis), and it's the pastor's job to act as gatekeeper to ensure that they have been properly prepared.

At our parish they provide all the parents of first communicants, whether enrolled in religious ed or not, with a list of the 15 interview questions months in advance. Here is a sampler.

Q. Who do you receive when receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?

A. I receive Jesus -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Q. When was the first Mass?

A. The first Mass was Holy Thursday at the Last Supper.

Q. What does the word "transubstantiation" mean?

A. "Transubstantiation" is the miracle of the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus by a Catholic priest.

Some questions are practical ones about how to comport oneself in the line for communion and how to prepare for communion. How to hold your hands if you're going to receive in the hand, or how wide to open your mouth if you're going to receive on the tongue. Stuff like that.

Barbara C.

Unfortunately, in my parish all First Communicants have to pass a test...a very horribly constructed test that is based on the Faith & Life grade 2 text (which we don't use). I wish they did interviews.

And I am such a "Slacker Nerd Mom"....LOVE IT!!


I'm familiar with that passage from Canon law (and have brought it up more than once!), but the DRE at my parish doesn't feel that passage gives her clear leeway to do interviews. I'm don't particularly agree with her, but I'm not the one who would get in trouble if I instituted it! Apparently doing interviews is not very common in my Diocese (Sacramento, CA) - the only ones I know of who do it are the two Latin Rite parishes, but they have a lot more leeway in how they run their programs.

I find it extremely refreshing that the parents are the ones held responsible for Sac Prep and then given the choice how they want to fulfill that responsibility!! Ah, that would be wonderful.

Thank you so much for the further information, I really appreciate it.


Amber, the DRE is, as far as I can tell, correct that the passage doesn't give her any leeway to do anything at all. The responsibility is to the *pastor.* IANACL but my reading of that is that it's the pastor's job to check if the children are properly prepared. He can delegate some of the work (at our parish the pastor, the DRE, and another staff member conduct the interviews -- the kids get to choose whose line to get into) but if he doesn't direct her to examine the children I think her hands are probably tied.


Sorry, I wasn't clear - I meant the DRE acting under the authority of the pastor. The pastor has delegated authority for faith formation to the DRE and oversees the program only at a high level. I don't think getting his buy in on this is an issue at all, given what I know of him. However, she wants to make sure she's not going to get anyone in hot water for doing it - herself or the pastor.

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