Saturday, September 6, 2014

Homeschooling :: First things first

When I was drowning in babies and everything revolved around surviving from day to day, I learned an important lesson about priorities. Baby sleeping was always a tenuous proposition, even when it seemed like there was nothing that could wake them. I could never tell how long I had until Baby was going to wake up; it could be a few minutes, it could be a couple hours. So, when the baby was actually sleeping, I would ask myself
"If I can only do ONE thing without the baby right now, what does it need to be?" 
If that one thing was accomplished I immediately asked the question again. Some days I was able to get many things done, other days I wasn't even able to accomplish my one thing.

Even though I do not currently live in what I call "survival mode" all the time anymore, I still sometimes ask myself that question as I go throughout the day.

In a way, it has probably informed my choices in homeschooling to some degree. It is certainly a way to help me decide what needs to be put first and foremost in our school days and years.
"If I can only teach my children ONE thing, what does that need to be?"
If there is only one thing I want for my children it is to see them grow to love Christ above all. Above money, above career, above self, above life itself.  The only way I know how to teach that is the way I learned it myself - to live it. The Orthodox Faith is one of action, which means that in order for us to pass it down we have to live it. It has to be what forms and shapes us. As my blogging friend Gretchen Joanna shared on her blog recently, you have to "do faith until you have faith".

So in the education of my children, the first thing I must try to do is to live the faith by following the cycle of the liturgical year. We fast and we feast. We pray morning and evening, we go to Divine Liturgy on Sundays to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. We read the Bible daily. We learn about the lives of the Saints, those holy men and women who have finished the race successfully. When a feast day falls on a weekday, we go to church instead of "doing school".

All these things come first. This is the foundation that our lives are built upon. Without living out the faith all other education is fruitless. So I put first things first and go from there.


Aside from physical practices such as daily prayers and attending church, the following are some resources that I have found helpful in passing on the faith to my children:

Books and cds:
A Sacred History for Children
A Child's Paradise of Saints
The Children's Bible Reader
The Prologue of Ohrid (2 volumes)
The Children's Garden of the Theotokos
Celebrate the Feasts
AVisual Catechism of the Orthodox Church

Many more books can be found at these websites:
Orthodox Christian Children
Paidea Classics

This is certainly not an exhaustive list, it's just those things that I've used and liked. Please share in the comments if you have anything you think I ought to add to this list of resources!


  1. This is so true! And I am going to be looking into those resources soon. Thank you for that because I hadn't heard of most of them.

    1. Hope you find some of them useful, Hannah.


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