As we approach another start to the school year, I would like to share some thoughts about the parental right and responsibility of parents to educate our children. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the “crowning glory” of marriage is the procreation and education of children. Procreation and education are inseparable in the openness to life within marriage. One cannot exist as a fruit without the other. Sadly, in our culture today, the concept of procreation itself as an element of marriage is questioned, but even beyond procreation, our right and our duty to educate our children is often downplayed, even among serious Catholics.
“The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children,” CCC 1653.
For this reason, my husband and I set out to take on the whole kit and caboodle when we were in our early years of marriage. We attended our first homeschooling conference when our oldest daughter was just six months old. We did research, bought a great number of books and other resources, and loved many of the aspects of teaching our own children at home. Five years ago, we uncovered another option for our children...a wonderful private classical academy right in our own area.
Providence Academy is a private, independent, classical academy that teaches in the Catholic tradition. Our children go to daily Mass, attend weekly Adoration and Benediction, learn about history, literature, science, music, math, etc. in the context of Christ, the center of our lives and of all of history. What changed us from homeschooling parents into Providence Academy parents was the realization that our children would have greater opportunities for growth in this environment. It has always been our philosophy that we would homeschool until we were convinced that we could entrust the grave responsibility of forming our children to an institution that could give them more than we could.
While we still incorporate aspects of a homeschooling culture into our home environment, it is a great gift to be able to experience our children coming home from school and engaging us in conversation about something wonderful they have learned that day. It is also gratifying to know that other children are getting the same opportunity for formation and having the same discussions with their families when they return home.
The Church, in Her infinite wisdom, has declared that the education of children is the primary responsibility of their parents. Whether homeschooling or otherwise, I am glad that God has given us the ability to discern what type of education fits the needs of our children. After all, education is for the child, not the child for the education. Who better to determine that than the ones who have loved them the longest on earth?