Raising children is hard. Homeschooling, though easier in many important ways than sending children to school, is still hard. When the number of children you are homeschooling involves multiple levels, and feelings of never getting anything truly done, it is even harder. 

Additionally, society often does not see what we do as parents, particularly homeschooling mothers, as valuable. Society sees talented women burying themselves at home, narrowing the sphere of their influence, giving up fulfilling and important careers, giving up power and success, to perform unimportant, largely menial tasks.  Even though education is regarded as important, to educate these four, or six, or even 12 children, is pretty small potatoes compared to what we might have done with our lives. "Think of those you could have influenced!" we are told. Sometimes we even wonder ourselves about the value of what we do. 

In the book Holiness for Housewives (a book which I most heartily recommend), Dom Hubert Von Zeller quotes G.K. Chesterton, who is responding directly to this attitude. He says, “...I cannot, with the utmost energy of imagination, conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery...the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home--as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then, as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, books, cakes, and boots; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene, I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious; but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

This is what we have to keep in mind as we are schooling our multiple levels of children. What we are doing is huge. And every good thing takes effort. God has ordered our universe in such a way that most worthwhile ends are attained only with real effort. We see this in every area. Physical prowess requires years of dedicated labor (ask any of the Olympic athletes). Intellectual achievement also entails significant time, attention, and plain hard work. Think about how long it takes to acquire mastery of a language, or medicine, law, or theology. In the spiritual realm as well, achievement is granted to those who persist and are willing to give themselves to the task. We have been told to follow Christ, to conform our lives to His, but we have also been told that this will require the daily taking up of the Cross.

So within that context let’s talk about some ways to make this great task of homeschooling our children easier. I have some suggestions that have come from friends, some that I have implemented in my home, some that my children who are homeschooling are implementing. The following are various suggestions that have helped other homeschooling families. My hope is that some of them will be helpful to you.

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Balancing Older and Younger Children

Occupying Younger Children

Schedules

Housework & Chores

Managing Extracurriculars

Organizing School Supplies

Utilizing Weekly Lists

Finding Time to Grade

Instilling Domestic Virtues

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Homeschooling is not easy, but it is definitely worth the effort. Recently, when I was teaching a Health course for parents, I was struck again with this quote from Casti Connubii

"God wishes men to be born not only that they should live and fill the earth, but much more that they may be worshippers of God, that they may know Him and love Him and finally enjoy Him forever in heaven; and this end, since man is raised by God in a marvelous way to the supernatural order, surpasses all that eye hath seen, and ear heard and all that hath entered into the heart of man. ....Christian parents must also understand that they are ....to educate...children who are to become members of the Church of Christ, to raise up fellow-citizens of the Saints, and members of God's household..."  (Casti Connubii, 12-13, Pius XI, emphasis mine)

What a charge we have been given!  Our job, as Christian parents, is to participate in God's saving work as it is carried out in our families.  We have a work that is ordered to eternity. Those of us who homeschool do so because we think homeschooling is especially effective in this work. It seems obvious that, if our goal is to raise up children who will share eternal life with us, and that this is specifically what God wants us to do in our families, then anything that furthers that goal is good. My mother says, in the introduction to my book, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, “An appetite for achievement is built into human nature. What men and women seek is not a life of easy luxury, but a lifework deserving the expenditure of all their gifts. Through homeschooling, Catholic parents - especially mothers - can find that kind of joy in the work of leading their children to God within the shelter of a living Catholic culture.” That is what we are doing, and that is a noble work.