This time last year, our family made a huge leap of faith into a new adventure when we decided to leave public school and homeschool our daughter. Our reasons for doing so were many, but religion, honestly, wasn’t one of them. As time goes by, however, we have discovered that our faith and the traditions of the Episcopal church have become amazing assets to our studies at home. The church has offered us great learning tools, free classes, and given my daughter many new learning experiences that she didn’t get in public school.
Looking at our services and traditions through the eyes of an educator instead of a parishioner, I discovered many ways our church offers children learning opportunities–opportunities any child can use, not just those that homeschool.
Take simple poetry and memorization projects for instance. We practice these each Sunday as a congregation. The Lord’s Prayer, and The Nicene Creed for older children, offer great chances for memorization and recitation. These prayers and creeds not only give children a project to work on, but also concepts that can spark hundreds of conversations. The Psalms too offer up a great lesson in poetry, a literary genre my daughter has completely fallen in love with this school year.
As a newly minted homeschooling parent, I’ve also had to find new extra-curricular activities we can take part in. Our church life has proved to be a gold mine for fun social experiences. Children’s Choir offers free music class and begins the foundation of music theory. Sunday School offers art class and language arts potential with the reading and exploration of Bible stories. Parish events offer the chance to mingle with people of all ages and activities to plan or treats to make. I have come to realize, especially as more and more ‘extras’ get cut from public school budgets, that our churches can be an amazing supplement to our children’s learning and social lives. And it’s all FREE!
This past Lent brought this concept into focus for me especially, because we were able to participate in it in ways we never had before. Since homeschooling gives us a flexible schooling schedule, my kids and I were able to attend Ash Wednesday and Good Friday services during the day, and use these services to have some great conversations as well as art projects.
My daughter started a little Lenten journal where she recorded the meaning of each Holy Day and drew a scene to go with it. This project had two goals in my mind: the traditional ‘school’ reason was to practice writing, storytelling, and drawing. The second goal was to make her pause and reflect on the story of Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion and resurrection. It became an immersive experience like never before, as our faith and learning came together to compliment each other wonderfully.
As this first homeschool year comes to a close, I am excited to delve into new projects inspired by our faith as we approach Pentecost, special autumn feast days and Advent. The rhythm of our church year has turned out to be a wonderful rhythm for our learning life as well, offering us a constant supply of things to learn and participate in. And while Episcopalians aren’t exactly known for our homeschool groups (anybody else out there? anyone?) people are choosing to homeschool these days for so many reasons.
If you find yourself considering this leap into home learning, know that your faith community is there to support you, and help your child learn and grow outside of the kitchen table. Even with homeschooling, you still need ‘a village’ to help your child grow. The village of the Episcopal Church, with its amazing traditions, appreciation of learning, and great opportunities to be part of a meaningful community, will offer you and your child fantastic support in your learning journey.
Are you an Episcopal homeschooler?
I’d love to hear about how you use your faith in your learning life!