Rorate Caeli

Homeschooling: Persevering Out of Love for Others

Here at Rorate, we understand that reporting on tradition means more than just the latest news from Rome, bishops, promotion of the traditional liturgy, etc. We try to report on everything that helps Catholics become more steeped in tradition as a whole, whether it's learning about the Traditional Mass, traditional music, traditional theology, and more.

Many Catholic families across the world are now or will shortly be starting another year of homeschooling. And, sadly, as if the task in front of them isn't taxing enough, they will be hit from all sides: homeschooling is wrong; your children will be anti-social; you can't keep them in a cave; they're too young to start homeschooling, just relax; and on and on.

We urge all parents, whether already homeschooling or only thinking about it, just starting out or long-time veterans, to listen to this podcast by a very learned, traditional priest. Please take the short 10 minutes and listen -- and listen to again, over and over, when the going gets tough.

Conformity to God's will is always the right thing -- but no one said it's ever the easy thing. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that truth.

CLICK HERE to listen and consider forwarding this to all your homeschooling friends.


  1. I am a huge proponent of homeschooling (unfortunately my wife was not); here is a good article on the topic.

    There are fantastic traditional curriculums out there for home-schoolers.

    Personally, I'm not opposed to parents Skyping or Gmail-chatting to share skills in home-schooling with each other; where one may be weaker in one area, the other stronger. And you can, say, have one traditional parent very good in math Skype with six kids around the country, and then the other parent pays it back with her skills.

    Just a thought...

  2. I tend to analyze homeschooling by the "end product". I am a high school teacher in a boarding school that receives each year some students from homeschool backgrounds. Hence, I know well that some homeschool parents can do and are doing a good job. But the statistics are that most homeschooled children who have subsequently come to our boarding school have a noticeable profile: (1) an above-average discrepancy between favored subject areas and their unfavored ones - this is often an indication of areas where the parent teachers themselves were weak or strong, while it can also be an indication of the child's own tendencies that were left uncorrected, and (2) an above-average difficulty in social skills. Fortunately, if children - particularly boys - are taken out of the homeschooling environment early enough, let's say by 9th grade, both of these issues are usually fixed with time.
    On the positive side, these children are usually better in terms of morals and virtue. And yet, if they rebel against the homeschooling and subjectively perceive it as having deprived them of something, this benefit can very quickly disappear.

  3. Thank you, Father.

    Let us recall that the homeschooling movement would barely exist if we still had the trustworthy and affordable parochial school system of the pre-conciliar years (in several countries, the Catholic school system was a pillar of the community, including in America, where homeschooling has mushroomed). So, in my very poorly formed opinion, the parents can never be blamed for their weaknesses, since they mostly wish to protect the faith and morals of their offspring, and the Bishops have failed them.

    The crisis of Catholic education is also a crisis of Bishops.


  4. Tradical9:03 PM

    Hi NC,

    My wife sends her thanks for a bit of encouragement and perspective for the coming school year.

  5. Loyolakiper9:34 PM

    Fr Jackson your complaints against homeschooling are biased (in my opinion) since you are a priest that is an educator at a Catholic boarding school. What you claim appears to be opinion since you make comments such as "let's say..." as you did inyour second complaint.

    I am a theology teacher for a Catholic Boys High School in the New Orleans area and my wife and I homeschool. In fact there are four other teachers of varying disciplines who do likewise. I think that makes me uniquely unbiased in my assessment of homeschooling as such.

    Fr Jackson your opined statistics are flawed and may not take into consideration that some of these boys who attend you institution are no longer homeschooled because their parents have seen problems arising. I would suggest to you to visit and review the "Homeschool Progress Report 2009".

    Here you can find stats that would dispute you very limited scope of the homeschooling environment. For example, 74.9% of homeschooling dads and 73.3% of homeschooling moms have college degrees. I for example have a Masters in Theology and my wife had a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. On top of that homeschoolers average 2 points higher on ACTs than "normal" school students (

    Also it seems that you imply that homeschooling is detrimental to boys... The current education system is overly feminine and treats boys and girls the same way. Even at an all boys school the education is presented to over active boys in a femine way - keeping them still for nearly 8 hours. The education system in America would ready put a boy, being a boy on ritalin and claim the he suffers from ADD or ADHD. He's a boy not a girl who already sits for hours playing with dolls and drinking tea! Boys are created to protect and defend...

    Father please do not in the future make sweepig statements while you only see you micro-cosmic scope of the discipline. I would have to second NC's comments and add what Venerable Fulton Sheen asserted: If you want you child to lose his faith send him to a Catholic school...

  6. Anonymous9:34 PM

    Father, let's also not forget that parents who stop homeschooling to send them to your school also may not have been entirely dedicated to it, hence the problems. In terms of academics, research proves that in terms of college placement tests, homeschooled children with mothers who earned nothing but a GED even place higher than the average scores of children in a schoolroom setting.

    There's always exceptions and some just can't homeschool their children. But as the priest in the sermon correctly points out, God wants moral children, not Harvard grads.

  7. @Fr Jackson: What you see might be due to a selection effect, viz., you're only getting the ones from families who are not that capable themselves of continuing homeschooling.

    Also, regarding your profile point # (1), that only seems to indicate that homeschoolers are not mediocre. I'm sure their performance in their least favorate / toughest subjects is still better. See this. Also, regarding point # (2), is a rigid school setting really a proper way to measure someone's social skills?

  8. In The Trenches12:27 AM

    Dear Father Jackson,

    You cannot analyze homeschooling by the "end product" until you reach the next life and find out what that END end product really is.

    In the meantime, if dog-eat-dog social skills and superior test scores in every subject area was the real goal of traditional Catholic homeschoolers--in other words, the raising of a "product" with quantifiable marketable skills ready to seamlessly take his place in a soulless culture utterly devoid of any notion of truth, goodness, and beauty--then you're right, we're missing the boat.

    Thank God that is not *my* goal.

  9. Anonymous12:56 AM

    In the Trenches, while I agree with you, let's not cede the high ground on the test scores. I'm not interested in what one person from one school shows. A wealth of research, such as Alan's link above, show the exact opposite. Homeschooled children out perform "normally" schooled children in every subject, in all testing, and in college grade point average and graduation rates as well.

    And, most importantly, in saving their souls.

  10. It is a crisis of popes, please. since pius xii it has been a free for all, and it just continues.

  11. According to someone I know who teaches at a traditional seminary, seminarians who are homeschooled are more likely to exhibit a shortage of academic skills which often require an extra year of study just to bring them up to the level of the rest. I don‘t doubt the good will and enthusiasm of many of those who homeschool, but at least in my acquiantance‘s experience just not all parents are up to the job.

  12. My sister-in-law home schools up to about 8th or 9th grade. The oldest are in college, and doing well, spiritually and academically and socially.

    She has a Phd from an Ivy league university, so she's not the typical homeschooling mother. She does see some of the academic weaknesses in some situations pointed out in this combox.

    One issue not broached here is that homeschooling can put a strain on a marriage. It's not easy for either spouse to do, but yes, the rewards are worth it.

    None of my kids are homeschooled, btw, but they go to excellent single-sex Catholic schools. The oldest, in college, goes to daily Mass, prays the rosary daily.

    For which I thank God!

  13. Home schooling can be a good thing, especially on matters of morals and faith. If I had children, I don't know if I'd sacrifice to send them to catholic school. They get the same amount of secularism as in public schools. My cousins go to catholic school, and some of the things they tell me are freightening. My cousin told me that a sister told him that playing with ouija boards is ok, as long as you don't believe in it. My other cousin also told me that in her books it says similiar as to occult things, as long as you don't believe in it. If they were my kids, I would of raised up a storm.

  14. Anonymous1:01 PM

    Back to the Future said: One issue not broached here is that homeschooling can put a strain on a marriage.

    Do you actually know these couples, since you don't homeschool? My wife homeschools and it actually takes a ton of pressure off my to send them to private school. Conforming to God's Will is never a bad thing.

    GE, you said "someone you know" says the students aren't as prepared. Again, this goes against all research that shows exactly the opposite. They may be recruiting from the wrong places for their seminarians. Also, if it's a "traditional" seminary, and not the FSSP/SSPX, there could be a number of reasons why those kids aren't right.

  15. All the reports I know on homeschooling suggest quite the opposite of the popular myths about it. Yes, myths! Like most of the other nonsense we heare from the politically correct establishment that prefers to subject our children to socio-political propaganda and the current unhealthy diet of gay biased heterophobia.

  16. It's true that some children don't benefit from homeschooling - but doesn't the same also hold true with schools themselves? Schools are often grim centres of bullying, where children are kept penned up in small classrooms for hours on end, and to a certain extent presuppose many social, emotional and physical skills which many children simply don't yet possess. There are many millions of schoolchildren who find going to school a daily nightmare, which can permanently damage them in the early and crucial years of their formation.

  17. Sandra2:05 PM

    Thank you for posting this - very inspiring for me while starting my 15th year of home schooling my nine children. I am a physician who put my career on hold for this task. My children are well educated, very social and practice their faith. If good Catholic schools were available and affordable, I would consider sending my children. Unfortunately, the local Catholic schools are where many Catholic children lose their faith. So....I home school.

  18. Anonymous2:12 PM

    This sums up, from Venerable Fulton Sheen, why we homeschool:

    "If you want your kids to defend their Faith send them to a public school, if you want them to lose their Faith send them to a Catholic School."

    This was in the '60s!

  19. As someone who goes to an FSSP parish i have contact with many homeschooling families. I find the children very polite and very normal in social skills. The public school and even the Catholic school systems left these parents with no other options but to homeschool.

  20. "Do you actually know these couples, since you don't homeschool?"

    Well, ya. One of the spouses is my brother.

  21. Anonymous3:10 PM

    Mike, he may be saying the problem is that she homeschools, but I bet if you dig deep it's a bigger problem.

  22. Jay P3:13 PM

    We homeschool to fulfill our obligation to be the first educators of our children. Our first priority is our faith and ensuring we lead our children down the narrow path that will open the doors of heaven to them. Adfero is correct in not conceding points of documented success, but I say let them continue to challenge our results and our motives as it will only continue to inspire us. My children (6) will have to answer for there track record simply because of the fact they were home schooled, and that will only make them stronger. We hold the high ground in that when our children succeed it is not because of some affirmative action set aside or quota, but because they have earned it.

    God Bless,
    Jay P

  23. Adfero,

    I'm quite sure it is.

    However, the amount of hours of prep one must put in for homeschooling, the danger, proximate or remote, depending on one's temperment, etc., of letting that obligation become too much of one's life, is there. All working people face the same struggle really. Homeschooling moms definitely work!

    I teach at a Catholic school, and can tell you: 90% of one's religious formation comes from the family. I'm not against homeschooling, by any means, by the way.

    Quite the contrary---even with the kids in a good Catholic school, schooling at home isn't over.

  24. "My cousin told me that a sister told him that playing with ouija boards is ok, as long as you don't believe in it."


    I teach Religion at a Catholic school, and ouija boards, I tell my students, need to be thrown out pronto, never bought in the first place...they are a portal to darkness.

  25. My experience with homeschooling our large family is in line with Sandra's experience. BTW, thank you for making that sacrifice, Sandra, it was a wise choice!

  26. Adfero: "traditional" as in the seminary of a Traditionalist priestly society.

    Perhaps home-schoolers on average do well academically, but apparently not necessarily those in Traditionalist Catholic circles.

  27. "90% of one's religious formation comes from the family."

    Exactly. I've attended both Christian and secular schools and in my experience the type of school one attends per se does not make any difference to one's religious life. What matters is the formation you receive at home coupled with the company you keep outside of school: If you receive a good formation and spend your spare time with other Christians who encourage you in your faith, you will be fine. This is a pattern I have observed with many friends as well.

    Of course this requires that parents make an effort both to counteract any harmful influences from school and make sure that their children socialize with other Christians. The latter is easier if the children are not at a school where they make friends with a lot of non-Christians. On the other hand, interaction with non-Christian children and their parents can be an opportunity both for evangelization and developing apologetic skills.

  28. I think we should be careful not to seclude ourselves in a sect-like bubble. That serves neither us, our children nor the wider society well. The world is a minefield, and at some point our children must learn to navigate it. We don't want to homeschool our children for nine years just so that they can lose their faith in high school or college because they never learned to counteract the mindset and temptations of the "ordinary" world. I'm not at all saying that homeschooling necessarily ends in this, just that it is a pitfall to be avoided.

  29. Anonymous7:09 PM

    GE, your fautty platitudes are just silly. Traditional Catholics don't do well homeschooling children because a person you know knows a person you know who also happens to be a teacher said so?

    And "Of course this requires that parents make an effort both to counteract any harmful influences from school and make sure that their children socialize with other Christians."

    So you're supposed to send your children off for 8-10 hours a day, let them be brainwashed by teachers, led by peers, then hope to debunk all of that in the hour or two you get with them at night, when they're completely exhausted from being in an unnatural environment all day?

    Do you actually have children?

  30. Homeschooling is a calling. The Bessed Mother seems to be quite involved in the movement.
    Ineresting factoid: when our diocesan vocations director visits parishes, he always asks the youth to stand. Then by process of elimination, the young people whose parents have discussed possible religious vocations are the only ones left standing. Invariably, homeschooled kids make up the majority of that group. I have seen this happen consistently in different parishes. Those parishes have thier own schools and homeschoolers are an extreme minority.

  31. P.K.T.P.9:10 PM

    First of all, secular schools tend to create pagans and secularists and atheists because the Faith, to be primary in life, must be connected to every aspect of it, including education.

    Catholic schools used to be excellent but have been taken over by the spirit of the Sixties. Those of us who attended them or taught there will have seen the rapid decline in recent decades. The religious who taught there dispensed not only with the cassock or habit but also with the spirit that was reflected in that uniform.

    This leaves homeschooling as the best option by far in terms of outcome. Of course, for various reasons, it will not be easy to manage for some parents. Still, it is the best for most children--those whose parents have the skills to manage it. Some of our Altar boys in my Parish are homeschooled. They seem very much to be on the right road.


  32. I wonder what St. Bernadette's SAT scores looked like? How deprived and socially malformed she was - poor baby.

  33. Anonymous12:57 AM

    Red, too funny. Surely many of the saints were schooled at home, but most people just think of that as the "old days."

  34. Dear friends,

    All positions are respectable, as long as the rights of parents are held. There are several considerations to be taken by the parents, in the circumstances of each family, and we should avoid generalizations. What is certain is that a trustworthy, widely available, and affordable Catholic school system is not available anymore, so it must be understood that parents will be forced to act accordingly, in order to fulfill their first duty to God: raising souls that will one day do all they can to go to Heaven. Having concern for one's children material wellbeing and the welfare of the entire society is very laudable and extremely important, but we just must put all things in perspective, and respect and protect the educational choices of parents.

    Thank you,