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What is the role of homeschool parents in classical Catholic studies?

When families contact me for the first time, they all express the same anxieties:

“I did not have a classical education.”
“I never studied these subjects.”
“I’m not sure I can help my children.”
“I’ve never homeschooled before.”

None of this matters.

The mission of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy is to research, restore, publish and teach the classical Catholic curriculum enjoyed by saints and wise men through history. You know why we have to do this work in the 21st century? Because no one has studied these subjects for generations. We’re restoring it…right now.

Below, you can see the mess that occurs when homeschooling parents try to “design their own curriculum” and manage academic work on their own. It’s a mess (and it’s common.)

Fortunately, in real classical Catholic homeschooling, the parents have a role to play that is within their grasp. They are not asked to teach Latin Grammar or Classical Reasoning. They are asked to do the work that only parents can do. Below, you can see how classical education works when parents collaborate with the Academy and fulfill a role that is appropriate for them:

The role of homeschooling parents in classical Catholic education is to supervise their children’s studies and help with that I can’t help them with. I’m not present with the children. I can’t tell if they’re working as their lessons tell them to work. I can’t tell if they’re cheating. I can’t tell if they’re achieving the objectives of the lessons and assessments. I can’t tell if they’re struggling with a quiz. I can’t tell if they’re preparing work that’s ready for submission. Only the parents can do that work–and it’s very important for the children’s success.

Parents are asked to study with their children, not teach them the classical Catholic curriculum. Parents are asked to check their work for simple and obvious problems: Are all of the questions answered? Did the children complete their work neatly? Did the children write with good grammar (capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc.)? These are simple things that the parents can do, and they allow us all to collaborate and accomplish the greatest possible good. Parents can read the article that explains how assignments are graded and make sure they avoid as many problems as possible before submission:

Below, you can see what will happen if parents don’t provide this supervision. Children will work without supervision, wil not follow lesson instructions, will cut corners and skip steps in their assignments, will submit work that is not ready for grading — and get nowhere. Their submitted work is returned for revision and they move at a snail’s pace. This doesn’t work–and is unfair to the children. Unfortunately, we see this all the time.

The role of homeschool parents in classical Catholic education is within their power. They are not asked to be experts in the subjects studied, or to evaluate the content of their children’s work. They are asked to act as assistants to the headmaster, to assist their children as parents, and provide a quality control checkpoint before work is submitted. When parents execute this role, the children are able to move forward steadily, avoid unnecessary and irritating problems, and receive quality feedback that’s focused on the real academic content of their work rather than basic instructions.

If homeschool parents understand their role and work to fulfill it, their children can enjoy a real classical Catholic they never had. That’s our goal in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy.

God bless your studies,
Mr. William C. Michael, O.P.
Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

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