homeschooling · learning · parenting

Orthodox Homeschooling Part 1

Through a series of trials and errors I have come to a realization, and I will make a bold statement; there is no such thing as an Orthodox homeschool curriculum, nor will there ever be.  There are no set courses that constitute a school of Orthodoxy.  What I do have is the life of the Church, which is the Life of Christ in the Spirit.  It takes a radical shift in my thinking to accept and trust that the “mind of Christ”, what is often called Orthodox phronema is not a subject to be taught in a classroom.  However, it is the most important pursuit I can encourage as a so called educator.  And that begs the question, “How can I, a mother in training myself, teach my ultimate desire, that my children have, or better yet, attain the mind of Christ?”  The answer is so counter culture, so educationally unorthodox, so against the norm, that at times I want to abandon this faith and escape back into my systematic, scholastic religious world.  I want to check boxes and make schedules, and teach facts, and be certain, and rely on ideology.  I want a curriculum.  If only I were still Catholic.  They seem to have this education thing down.  Man, Orthodoxy is lacking, its behind the times, it is not meeting my family’s needs.  These are my fears, these are my shameful frustrations. 

And then I stop, and I listen, and I pray, and I know.  It is not a knowledge of this world, but the knowledge the Church offers.  And I am prompted by my spiritual father, by the pious mothers of the saints, by the saints themselves, and by the constant reminder, “Let Us Attend” that the Church is where my heart will find wisdom, where my children will become by grace what I try so desperately to teach them.

A homeschooling Orthodox family has to come to terms with the lack of Orthodox teaching materials.  This acceptance is not about doing without, but discovering the fullness of the life of the Church.  I too would love the ease and comfort of curriculum based education, but I am coming to the wonderful realization that my alternative is so much more.  In a series of posts, I hope to share with you what I have discovered after 10 years of homeschooling, four of which are post conversion.  I am not claiming that my way is perfect, and I by no means know what the ultimate Orthodox homeschool looks like.  However, maybe my experiences and yours will help all of us anxious Orthodox mothers to open our hearts and trust, to gain perspective and peace.  Here is a sample of some things I hope to share about our homeschooling journey in the next few weeks, all of which come from personal experience:

Orthodox Homeschooling Part 2
Prayer: The cornerstone. {In Action}
Prayer: The cornerstone. {In Essence}
The Living Church Calendar: This is Not a History Lesson. {In Essence}
The Living Church Calendar. {In Action}
Fasting: What’s for dinner Mom?
Almsgiving: Sharing, Chores, and Blessings.
Conversation: The new worksheet.
Wanted…Constantinople Catechism.   

What About Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic?
Does anyone have any suggestions for history, art, and music? 
But really…how do I do this?
Using the wonderful Orthodox homeschool materials we have.

Please join me in this discussion.  Are you stressed about the upcoming school year?  Are you desperate to find an Orthodox curriculum?  Or do you have suggestions that would help us all be better mothers and teachers?  Please comment, and let us hear from you.  Together we are better.  Happy Homeschooling!   

         

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13 thoughts on “Orthodox Homeschooling Part 1

  1. Thank you for this post…I am in the process of converting to Orthodoxy, and am happy to have found your blog!…I am homeschooling three boys…I look forward to your upcoming posts 🙂

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  2. This looks like it will be an interesting series. Our family is dedicated to homeschooling, although our children are still very young–4 and 1 years old. May God bless your efforts.

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  3. This is beautiful. I look forward to reading your other posts. While Orthodox curricula would indeed be nice to have all laid out in a pretty box, I think it's so important to remember that if we live the life that the Church had provided for us, it doesn't matter what curricula we choose because Christ can “make all things new”. We just have to continue to seek Him.

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  4. I remember when I was converting and how I felt as if my whole life was changing. In fact is was, and still is. Blessings to you and your three boys. I hope this series will encourage you as you prepare for the upcoming year.

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  5. I hope it will be interesting and encouraging. I think you are blessed to be starting this journey while your children are young. I wish we had been Orthodox when my older children were young. Blessings to you and your little ones.

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  6. LOVE this post.
    Now that I have kids in college I can say that making the Church calendar our most important calendar was the wisest choice I made. If our kids don't acquire the phronema then all other educational endeavors won't matter. The mind of Christ is all we really need. A friend once told me that the most important thing we can teach our children is to pray, especially the Jesus prayer. She said God will enlighten us or reveal to us everything we need to know, when we need to know it, if our minds are full of prayer.
    We acquire the mind of Christ organically not through any one set of “classes” but through prayer. St Gregory of Palamas was a great defending of prayer as being the way of acquiring wisdom and knowledge yet he was very educated himself.
    You have put in words what I have known in my heart but wondered if my convictions were wrong because there was no boxes to checkoff or schedules to keep that would say 'yes your kids are learning what they need to learn'
    I still have a truck load of kids to get through home schooling and yes I am trying my best to teach them to read, write, and do math but as a less stressed mom wondering if they are getting it.

    (BTW we have not perfected prayer by any means just the understanding that prayer is the one thing needful.)

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  7. I visited your site, and it is wonderful. Thank you, and yes you may add my blog. I look forward to reading all that is on your site today as I persevere through another day of pregnancy bed rest.

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  8. Gen,
    I loved your comment as well. I hope you do not mind, but I used in in my upcoming post on prayer. You said it well. How many children do you still homeschool?

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  9. As someone who has been on the side of attempting to create an Orthodox “curriculum”, I truly appreciate the wisdom of this post. How true it is, I have come to understand that educating my children in an Orthodox way is about the manner and way I teach and live, not the curriculum. I will credit Andrew Kern for some of this wisdom, as one who rarely offers practical advice on what books to use etc, but rather exhorts us as parents to be virtuous men and women, and by our example imbue our children with the heart and soul of Orthodox life and understanding.

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  10. We use Classical Conversation with our five little ones and it has worked very well. It's not Orthodox in origin but we have found it to be a decent base from which to build. I also teach ancient Greek online as a spoken language. I am wondering if anyone out there might be interested. You can see my kids speaking Greek on the demonstration video at academyofclassicallanguages.com May God bless you all!

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  11. You are spot on. Orthodoxy is a way of life, not about information acquired. Thrilled I ran across your blog while I was researching something. At the moment, I'm waiting for my boys to get ready for bed so we can say prayers. I'm going to go click through some more of your posts while I wait for them. 🙂

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