As Harrison stands, preparing to recite Latin from memory, the eyes of his eager classmates are waiting to hear his presentation of Veni, Veni Emmanuel, the original Latin version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. His posture is neat and comfortable, his voice is strong and clear, and occasionally, he gestures or comes up to one of his fellow students. Eye contact and inflection is everything. He is wearing a neat, red uniform, the same as all the other boys in his class. He is confident, proud, and his capacity of knowledge is quite impressive for another sixth grader.
Some people who don’t homeschool or don’t know what homeschooling is think that homeschooled students don’t learn as much, aren’t challenged, or don’t have enough homework. They think that the students have it too easy and that they don’t have any activities or social life. And since they don’t know what it is, they’re inclined to think that homeschooling is unorganized.
Did you know, however, that the St. Augustine Homeschooling Program isn’t any of these things? It is a classical school that provides opportunities that are useful for its students to learn that many other schools don’t teach. In fact, pupils at St. Augustine start learning Latin words in first grade, and everyone takes Bible as an actual subject. And, starting in seventh grade, Logic is taken and learned to build strong reasoning skills, useful for making strong future arguments.
Homeschooling at St. Augustine is a great opportunity for Christian families. No one is ever excluded, and everyone reaches out to each other. Each student gets a weekly assignment sheet from his or her teachers, telling them what to complete each day.
Going to St. Augustine is a rare opportunity for children with rare passions and talents, such as music, poetry, or writing. There are many social activities too, such as tennis, soccer, flag football, cross country, and robotics.
Basically, St. Augustine is an organized school program, two days a week, that complements our home studies.
Each St. Augustine family is assigned to one of four houses, like in the Harry Potter books, but named after Latin words.
There’s Veritas (truth), Gaudium (joy), Prystantia (excellence), and Sapientia (wisdom). Though everyone is in a different house, it does not separate any of the kids' relationships. For instance, if someone in Gaudium is friends with someone in Veritas, that’s fine! St. Augustine also has something we call The Gryphon Games. During the games, all the houses compete in different, friendly events to win the Gryphon Cup. St. Augustine is not a strict environment, but a loving, joyful community.
“There is no better school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent,” said Mahatma Gandhi. If you believe Gandhi, then the homeschooling kids of St. Augustine may be on to something.
John Holt, an American educator, also notes that learning at home is a special opportunity. “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it is not a school at all.”
Experts say that there are 2.3 million home-educated students in the U.S. Also, it may be the fastest-growing form of education in the America. Homeschooling students also score above average on academic performance. St. Augustine and homeschooling may not be for everyone, but it is a great one for folks like us.
PHOTO: Elizabeth Elkins, Eden Cross, Allie Brock.