It’s pretty slick to be married to a man who has never listened to Vanilla Ice or the Beastie Boys on purpose, or watched Pulp Fiction or Sixteen Candles. It’s a blessing to have a husband who has never smoked a cigarette, who saved his first kiss for his wife, and has prayed the Rosary almost every single day of his life. My children’s father has much of the Baltimore Catechism memorized, knows how to build a mansion from scratch, can grow almost anything in the garden, and can run a large buffalo farm. This summer, he’s been teaching our kids how to raise chickens, grow a jaw-dropping amount of strawberries, and discern what is a liturgical abuse and what isn’t.
Another major bonus is that growing up as the oldest son of a homeschooling family with 10 children taught my husband how to keep kids in order. Being around his younger brothers and sisters all day long, inside a small farm house, in -20 degree weather in North Dakota winters, can teach a kid some interesting things about family life. For example, when I think our lovely little children didn’t “mean to” to something, he knows they did. When it comes time to hear the homily on Sunday morning, I can actually sit and listen to it, since my husband knows how to keep at least three of our four young kids pinned to the pews, motionless, staring contemplatively at the celebrant. It’s quite a wonder. And I take comfort in knowing that when it comes time for my daughter, who has golden hair down to her waist, to start dating, he’ll stand there like a sentinel on guard, “pistol in hand,” serious as a heart attack about helping her find a marvelous Catholic man. In many ways, I believe that being married to a man who was homeschooled makes my job as a wife and mother easier – not to mention more adventurous.
In addition to a number of impressive personal testimonies like my own, more and more statistics are showing that adults who have been homeschooled are defeating the odds, and putting critics of homeschooling “in their place.” First off, the National Home Education Research Institute (NHER) did a study which concluded that children who are educated at home typically score 15 to 30 percent higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. This is true of students who are taught by parents with or without a formal education, and students whose families fall within a range of income brackets. Homeschooled students also score in the above average range on their SATs and ACTs, claims the NHERI. Because of this, home-educated children are being recruited by many colleges and universities. In fact, homeschooling has become so popular that many institutes of higher education have a tab on their websites dedicated specifically to homeschoolers who wish to apply for admittance into their schools.A study conducted by Michael Cogan of the University of St. Thomas revealed that homeschooled students graduated college at a rate of 66.7 percent, which is almost 10 percent higher than students who came from a traditional public high school. The study also showed that homeschooled students consistently earned a higher GPA than the other students enrolled in the college.
In 2003, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) commissioned Dr. Brian D. Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, to conduct “Homeschooling Grows Up,” the largest research survey to date of adults who were home educated. The study looked at over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. The results were astounding, and confirmed what homeschoolers have thought for years: “No problem here.” For instance, data collected revealed that over 74 percent of home-educated adults ages 18 to 24 have taken college-level courses, compared to 46 percent of the general United States population. Amazingly, it also showed that adults who had been homeschooled were almost twice as likely than the general, non-homeschooled population to: participate in ongoing community service activities, vote in an election, attend religious church services, and say that they are “very happy” in life. According to the survey, 95 percent of homeschooled graduates say they were glad they were homeschooled, and 82 percent say they would homeschool their own children. In an intriguing article titled, “Homeschooling is the New Path to Harvard,” education expert Dr. Susan Berry states, “The high achievement level of homeschoolers is readily recognized by recruiters from some of the best colleges in the nation… “Schools such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford, and Duke University all actively recruit homeschoolers.”
Above all, homeschooling has a phenomenal capacity to equip our children to gain eternal life with God. As Servant of God Fr. John A Hardon once said:
Home schooling, in our country, is that form of teaching and training of children at home in order to preserve the Catholic faith in the family, and to preserve the Catholic faith in our country. Home schooling in the United States is the necessary concomitant of a culture in which the Church is being opposed on every level of her existence and, as a consequence, given the widespread secularization in our country, home schooling is not only valuable or useful but it is absolutely necessary for the survival of the Catholic church in our country.
Homeschooling is a divine call from the Hound of Heaven, who longs to embrace families with His clemency, wisdom and benevolence. Is it yours?