Last spring, someone asked me if I could create a planning tool for an Orthodox homeschool year. I spent the entire summer wrestling with the idea of how to plan and create a resource useful for all Orthodox homeschooling parents. There are so many factors at play – learning styles, teaching methods, interests…the list goes on. The immensity of the request was not lost on me.
Homeschooling, by it’s nature, is a personal journey. What works for one family may or may not work for the next family, for a variety of reasons.
So, how do I go about creating something like this? Are there common goals amongst Orthodox homeschooling parents?
When it comes right down to it, the common goal we all have as Orthodox parents is constantly striving to guide our children on the path to salvation. Everything else falls in behind this goal.
With this goal in mind, the first question we need to ask ourselves is – Do I understand the Orthodox Christian view of death and salvation? Do I understand theosis? Could I comfortably teach others about it, especially my children, or do I need to learn more first?
If yes, great! This is the starting point for planning our homeschool daily schedules and yearly goals.
If no, then what steps do I need to take in order to have a better understanding of salvation? (Talk to my parish priest, attend classes at my parish, listen to podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio, read an Orthodox book)
“You can teach only that which you have made your own, and this means that there is always the danger that your personal mistaken judgment or insufficient knowledge will be reflected in your teaching.”
– Sophie Koulomzin, Our Church and Our Children
“We cannot teach what we do not practice ourselves.”
– Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Liturgy and Life: Christian Development Through Liturgical Experience
Are there common needs amongst Orthodox homeschooling parents?
Recently, I was talking to Adam Lockridge who is the director of the St. Raphael School. We had a great phone conversation as we quickly realized we share many of the same visions and goals. It is our hope to organize an Orthodox homeschool conference in the near future and through the guidance of Fr. Noah Bushelli, who is the director of the Antiochian Department of Homeschooling, we are seeking input from parents on what THEY need to help them have a successful year.
I sent out a request on Instagram and Facebook asking Orthodox homeschooling parents to fill out a survey. (If you haven’t already answered the short survey, please do so here.) From the 61 responses so far, parents are overwhelmingly wanting a general guide to Orthodox homeschooling and how to incorporate praxis (living our faith everyday of our lives) into our homeschools and families.
God willing, this is something I would love to work on in the coming months – but the important thing to remember is that this can always be nothing more than a guide. (The dictionary defines guide as “to assist a person to travel through, or reach a destination in an unfamiliar area, as by accompanying or giving directions to the person)
I cannot write something that has a magic formula to the perfect homeschooling scenario for Orthodox families. It’s a journey with different starting points and different paths. A guide for Orthodox homeschool families can be a map of sorts but there is a distinct difference between knowing something (teaching/learning) and doing something (praxis). A distinct difference between one family and the next.