Since this is my first personal post, I’ll start with some introduction. My wife and I were married in 2010 and we currently have four children. After we were married, we lived in Connecticut. I started a new job at Fairfield University as a Residence Hall Director and waited for an opportunity to use my degree in Pastoral Ministry in a position with campus ministry. Within a couple of years I made the transition to campus ministry. While I was directing retreats, I completed a Post Master's Certificate in Spiritual Formation and started as a Spiritual Director as well. After 5 years at the university, I left and started a new position as a high school theology teacher. I taught Old Testament, New Testament, Ecclesiology and Sacraments at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, CT.
In 2019 my wife’s job search would lead us out of Connecticut all together to Delaware. When we moved in 2019 to Delaware, my wife and I decided it would be best if I stayed home with the children. With four children, childcare was getting way too expensive and all the back and forth was too stressful on the family. In Connecticut, where we lived previously, I absolutely loved my job as a high school theology teacher. I was also a part time youth minister, a spiritual director and supervisor for the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Fairfield University. I loved all the ministries I was engaged in. I knew I would miss teaching and being in ministry. I also felt like I had a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of me and the more I prayed about it, the more I felt like it was God’s will for me and for our family.
How did we get into homeschool? We didn't intend for me to homeschool the children when we moved. We actually chose our new home based on the school district. I anticipated going back to work once they were all in school too. It basically just became the best choice for our family and the fact that I was already home full-time with the kids made it an easier choice. We were in our new home, in a new state for less than a year when the schools shut down in the Spring of 2020. After our first grader was sent home, his education turned into completing some reading at home, doing some educational computer games and emailing writing prompt assignments to the teacher. "Two weeks to flatten the curve" turned into a fourth quarter where the grades didn't matter. It all happened so fast that by the end of the school year, we weren’t really sure where he was at in terms of his education.
As the stay at home orders continued in the summer, we started to talk about what the school year would look like in the fall. My daughter was set to start kindergarten in the fall and as summer went on, we became more and more concerned with the schools being closed in the fall. We were even more concerned with them being open under certain conditions that would make our children feel unsafe at school. We also were concerned about what the quality of their education would be with pandemic protocols or if they could be sent home again. There was so much unknown and we really didn't know what to do. So we waited, continued to discuss our concerns and tried to enjoy our summer together.
Then one day, I received a call from my brother who mentioned that he and his wife were seriously considering homeschooling their children. I was immediately enthralled with the idea of doing the same. We were homeschooled for a year as kids and I remember really enjoying it. I had a number of assignments to complete each day that usually took only a few hours, and then I was free to play the rest of the day. I started researching Delaware state laws and age appropriate curriculum before my wife even got home to discuss it with her. We talked about it a little bit and then I started signing up for homeschool program webinars. I also joined Facebook groups, located nearby homeschool co-ops and spoke to counselors from a few accredited home study programs.
We used the month of July to gather all the information we could. I prayed about it and asked God to help us decide what we should do. In that short time, I felt my confidence in my abilities to teach them growing. I noticed that I started imagining what teaching them would look like. I was coming up with creative ideas for teaching them about gardening, cooking, nutrition, science experiments and music lessons before I had even purchased a curriculum. This is where I noticed God answering my prayers. He was answering my prayers and showing me His will for us through my desires and creative energy. I noticed what was going on in me and after a final discussion with my wife, we agreed to register our home as a "non-public school" and then with Seton Home Study School.
That is how our home became "Chatham Academy"! As I think back to "how it started" and what homeschooling looked like our first few weeks, I honestly have a good laugh with myself because I have learned so much since then. Seton provides a lesson plan that is easy to follow for beginners though. The whole curriculum is meant to be a resource and then you can customize and supplement as much as the parent decides. I looked through the lesson plans and at all the books they sent. I honestly don't remember even putting much thought into what "school supplies" we would need. Luckily my wife did and made sure we had plenty of crayons, notebooks and pencils. For the first several weeks I just made a daily check list or I would open up the lesson plans each day. Then subject by subject I would give the kids their assignments. We would start after cleaning up from breakfast at 9:30 or 10 and would usually be finished by lunchtime.
So that is how our journey as a Catholic Homeschool Family began. I plan to discuss more what a day of homeschool looks like today for our family in future posts. Please feel free to leave a comment let me know in the comments what kinds of questions you would like me to answer in future posts. Thank you for reading and God Bless!