5 steps to home schooling for Catholics

August 16, 2012

Bobz Book Reviews

Before you jump into the deep end of home schooling your child or children — and even if you’re already in the water — make sure you pick up Pam Patnode’s new book on the subject.

Patnode’s been in the pool — and her “5 Steps toSuccessful Home Schooling” will help you keep afloat.

She shares what she’s learned in providing a home-based education to her own family, and even better applies to home schooling advice from other walks of life – business world best practices, for example — that seem to fit naturally to home schooling, too.

Best of all, Patnode’s work 150-page paperback is subtitled “How to Add Faith and focus to Your Home Education Program,” and although those of other faiths will find her advice useful, the parishioner at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina, MN, acknowledges that Catholics are the target audience.

Maybe that’s obvious from Patnode’s first step: Pray.

And she’s honest enough to point out that, if you decide to home school, you’ll need to pray. She writes, “Home schooling your children will likely bring you to your knees more often than few other things in life.”

She offers good suggestions and resources for each of the steps. While some of these are relatively recently developed, others are time-tested.

The encouragement to read good literature — classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Giving Tree” and “The Secret Garden” — has been good advice for centuries.

The suggestion to use the coming Sunday’s Scripture readings as prayer with children harkens back more than half a century to “Our Children’s Year of Grace,” a widely used pamphlet written in 1943 by St. Paulite Therese Mueller, one of the first women’s voices in the Liturgical Movement.

Here are Patnode’s five steps for faith-based home schooling:

Step 1: Pray!

  • Pray alone, then pray with others. Both are important!
  • Pray first. Start each day in prayer.
  • Pray often. Consider times throughout the day when you can add prayer. Allow God to lead.

Step 2: Establish your mission

  • Ask the right questions!
  • Write a mission statement that defines your goals for home education.
  • Create a home education plan. Determine strategies and tactics to achieve your goals.
  • Review your plan regularly. Adjust according to specific needs of each child.

Step 3: Read quality literature

  • Believe in the value of reading.
  • Choose quality reading material.
  • Establish good reading habits.
    1. Model this behavior by reading yourself every day.
    2. Read aloud to your children and/or schedule independent reading time.
    3. Make reading as enjoyable as possible
    4. Limit screen time.
  • Seek out help and/or resources for the struggling reader.

Step 4: Get organized!

  • Organize your priorities first!
    1. God
    2. Spouse
    3. Children
    4. Work
  • Discern the number of regular activities and commitments in which you and your children are involved.
  • Schedule your daily routine.
  • Keep home school materials (in the area in which they are used) orderly.

Step 5: Find support

  • The support of your spouse is very important.
  • Consider joining a local home school support group or participating in or creating home school clubs, classes, or activities with your children.
  • Know where to find legal support if needed.
  • Attend home school conferences whenever possible.
  • Ensure that your kids connect with other home schooled children.
  • Take advantage of available resources for home schooling children with special needs.
Source: “5 Steps to Successful Home Schooling.” Philomena Press, Minneapolis.
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About Bob Zyskowski

Bob is the Client Products Manager for the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A 40-year veteran of the Catholic Press, he is the former Associate Publisher of The Catholic Spirit. You can follow him on twitter or email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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