I often think about why I am homeschooling - especially this time of year, as I peruse curricula, buy books and prepare for the next school year. I think about teaching in general, as this is what I went to school to do, but there is a big difference in schooling your children and teaching in a school - whether public or private.
Many school teachers teach a particular grade, or in higher grades, a particular subject. Sometimes, after many years of teaching a grade or subject, they don't really have to think too much about curriculum choices, or manner of teaching, they do what they have learned to do and many are good at it. I've had several inspiring teachers in my childhood.
Homeschooling is a different ball of wax. With my oldest, each year brings new challenges and options. We are starting high school coursework, and in doing so, I want to make sure I give him the best possible education to meet his ambitions. He wants to be an architect or some sort of thing like that. Actually, his dream job is to plan, design, and construct Lego models. Even now, he spends a lot of time building and creating with them (and yes, he is 14!). And so, that means he will be college bound eventually, which means preparing him for college. It means upper level math courses, sciences, technical drawing (where do you find curriculum for that?) and a myriad of coursework that I haven't even heard of - - yet. With most curriculum I purchase, there is an intent to use it with the younger ones coming behind. Lately, though, I've thought about their goals, and how I need to tailor their education to what they wish to accomplish, perhaps in their life. This means that I may be pursuing curriculum for one child, without the intent of using it for the next. Isn't this one of the beauties of home schooling? Sure, he could get all this in public school, but not only can I tailor the education to meet his desires, but I can also tailor it to meet his abilities - - and that is one of the goals of our home school.
I also remind myself of why we home school. I've made lists of reasons, that I refer to often, if I get a little discouraged or frustrated. It is particularly helpful on those "bad" days, when much doesn't seem to go well for us. It helps keep me focused and reminds me that the destination is more important than the bumps in the road that life hands us. For my son, his goal is to be an architect. As his parents, our goal for him is to do what God wishes of him and to obtain happiness in heaven. And if he is meant to be an architect, then he will be. He has a talent for drawing and building, and so, we will help him to build on that talent.
During these times, I think of St. John Bosco and the myriad of jobs he held while paying for his education to become a priest. In hindsight, God was preparing him to take his knowledge of the various trades he worked at and to teach them to his "boys." In the same way, God helped prepare Mother Angelica to build up EWTN and her nuns for their mission by her early education. Perhaps in this same way, the talents that our kids show early in their lives help us to prepare them for their future, of doing God's will in building his Church. I have no idea where this education will lead my oldest son, but I do know that it will lead me looking for curriculum on technical drawing (which, by the way, I have found one called "Practical Drafting") and other courses that will aid him in discerning his vocation.