I don’t normally spend a lot of time here on issues specific to homeschooling as an Episcopalian, but since there are no resources devoted to Episcopalian homeschooling at all (you can see more about that lament on back posts on this blog), and I have had multiple mothers ask, I thought I would lay out a few thoughts. I hope eventually to turn this into some kind of e-book so those of you who are interested have a small resource to get started!
I like to think of the progression of Episcopalian homeschooling as a threefold structure, so these are my ideas.
Ages 0-7, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING.
- As parents, we model from our Baptismal Convenant that we “seek and serve Christ in all persons” and we “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being, with God’s help.”
- We go to church and celebrate the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days. We look at the stories in the Holy Bible as God’s story of LOVE for us and for all others. We, as parents, learn for ourselves what these things mean and it is part of our daily and weekly and yearly routine.
- We USE our Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life. This is important, because we don’t have a lot of creeds or statements the way other Christian denominations do. Our path as Episcopalians is largely a path of prayer, of joy, and of standing up for what is decent and right. It isn’t complicated. But it does require work.
- We spend lots of time in nature, not only because Episcopalians are concerned about climate change and want to be informed stewards, but because nature is a strong strand of our beliefs that ties back into the Celtic roots of Anglicanism.
From Ages 7-14, Episcopalian homeschooling is about BELONGING and HEROES.
- We are still modeling BELONGING by the way we act toward others in daily life. In this stage, we not only expect our children to model our behaviors that include and help people, but we hope to start to be able to see this action on their own.
- We still are going to church and celebrating the church seasons, the Eucharist, the feast and fast days, and we see now the stories in the Bible as a deeper level of encouragement in our own walk for loving ourselves, each other, and the Earth.
- As older children question things, we talk about how we use our intellect and experience as part of our experience with God. Faith, tradition, reasoning, and experience are all part of being an Episcopalian.
- We get our older children to participate – older children can acolyte, participate in Children’s Choir and the Royal School of Church Music Program, help with the nursery, attend Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and summer camps. We help and encourage relationships with the other children in the parish. My parish is pretty large, about 800 families, and I think there are probably close to 20 schools or more represented, so school attendance isn’t the deciding factor for friendship in our parish.
- We still use the Book of Common Prayer in daily and weekly life.
- We still spend lots of time in nature. Some at this stage will chosee to look for Episcopal summer camps – they are all over and provide incredible immersive experiences into nature and closeness to God.
- We develop more faith by participating in the life of the church. We get involved with causes, with the classes and offering of the church, and if what we want is not there, we step up as parents and get involved.
- We start learning the stories of the heroes of our faith – the people who made the Anglican faith what it is
- My little mini-rant about Heroes of the Faith: King Henry doesn’t count. I shudder actually when people talk about that as if they don’t know any of the real ways and real heroes that made this strand of Western Christianity different than anything else. Anglicanism was different than anything else because of where it HAPPENED – The church was aligned with many Celtic beliefs and moved toward the customs and beliefs of the Western church with the Synod of Whitby, but in many ways still retains a good deal in common with its Celtic beginnings and with the church before the split of the Reformation. So in a way, it was and still is its own thing! If you want to debate me about King Henry, I will just delete your comment because it is a source of contention to me that people don’t know more about either their own denomination or others can’t be bothered to find out and just comment on things they haven’t researched. #sorrynotsorry
- Heroes from the Holy Bible, and yes, the Feast Days of Saints that we celebrate (and the idea that we can all be Saints! A little different concept in the Anglican Communion) (the Saints this month in June have varied from St. Columba to St. Ephrem of Syria to St. Enjegahbowh to Sahu Sundar Singh of India), and then some of the traditional heroes: Bede the Venerable, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Becket, John Wycliffe, Thomas Cranmer, John Jewel, Richard Hooker, Samual Crowther, Janauni Luwum, Archbishop Tutu, and more.
- Toward the end of this period, I like to talk plainly about the 5 Marks of Mission of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., which are:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To seek to transform unjust structures of society
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
- We can start to talk to older children (7th and 8th grade) about the history of the church as involved in the Social Gospel period of history, our role in the Civil Rights Movement, our role in equality for LBGTQ people, and our positions on civil rights, the environment, and more.
Ages 14-21 We walk the talk by publicly professing our faith and Baptismal Vows, not only in confirmation, but in striving for justice for all people, for loving all people by trying to see Christ in them, and for standing up for the dignity of all human beings. We profess our faith by walking in love.
- At this point, teens get involved in running the life of the church – acolyting, helping at Vacation Bible School or summer camps or with the smaller children’s choir.
- Teens start to think about their faith and if they want to publicly profess in Confirmation with hands laid on by the Bishop if they believe in The Apostles’ Creed (the Nicene Creed is said weekly, but the Apostles’ Creed is used at Baptism and Confirmation), if they believe and will continue in teaching what the apostles began, will persevere, will proclaim the LOVE of God in Christ to the world, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace among all people and to respect the dignity of every human being and be a part of the belonging that is the Episcopalian Church.
- They can use their Book of Common Prayer and the resources of the church to have an active prayer life.
- We help our teen investigate the resources of the Episcopal Church, so they can make an impact in the world. These resources include:
- Some teenagers will choose to attend an Episcopalian college. The Episcopal Church has the highest number of people with graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita than any other denomination in the United States and has a strong system of colleges, both regular and historically black colleges and universities.
- After Confirmation, which varies from parish to parish in what grade it occurs (in our parish it is tenth grade), the teenager is considered an adult and equal in the church. The last few years of high school and headed into the twenties are good times to deepen spiritual formation, become involved in and make good decisions based around what we believe as part of the Episcopal Church of the United States and part of the Anglican Communion. Some will continue into college deepening their faith through Campus and Young Adult Ministries and some will even branch out after college to do things like Episcopal Service Corps or partake in other ways to serve others.
Hope that helps,