Keeping the Faith

My little student of religion

My little student of religion

When my daughter was younger, we were members of a Catholic parish, which meant that my daughter was required to receive religious instruction. Fortunately, the parish allowed this to be done at home, which was our preference.

So, every September, we would walk to the Religious Education office, have a chat with the director, and take home the Teacher’s Guide and Student Workbook for that year.

After two years, my daughter realized that the lessons were almost identical from year to year. The questions she was required to answer were banal. For example, “How did God keep His promise to send a savior?” Well, um, He sent a savior. You know, Jesus. Duh.

According to the Teacher’s Guide, the director was supposed to review my daughter’s workbook several times each year. Due to the fact that this poor, harried woman was responsible for so many students, the reviews never materialized, but oh, how I worried.

What did I worry about? Handwriting. I alternated between asking my daughter to write as carefully as she could (the little Catholic-school-girl in me) and saying nothing about her penmanship (the grown-up-discovering-her-inner-unschooler in me). But whatever persona was currently in possession of my mind, I still worried. The Handwriting Police were going to lock me up, and where would my daughter be? Motherless, and sent off to — oh no! — school!

Then, yesterday, years since we left the Catholic church and all its requirements, I learned a lesson about keeping the faith. My daughter asked to see her old religion workbooks. I pulled them out of the top shelf in the craft closet, the shelf that used to function as the  Burden of Proof Department. This was the place I would run to if the state ever asked me to show that I have been educating my child in a manner equivalent . . . you know the rest.

Now that shelf is just a shelf where we keep stuff my daughter did when she was little. But, I digress. I gave her the old workbooks, and I started to look at them, too. You know what? Her handwriting was fine. Was it Palmer method? Heck, no. But it was fine.

And her answers to the banal questions were glimpses into her unique character. For  “What makes people special?”, she wrote: “I think we are all equal.” That’s my fair-minded, justice-loving girl. And, to make it even better, the tail on the “q” in “equal” is curling the wrong way. How precious.

So, keep the faith, doubting parents. The things we worry about are often inconsequential; the things that matter are often already there.


9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    typhoidterri said,

    I used to worry about handwriting and spelling also. Only because they came so easy for me as a child. So I had no tactic to use when teaching it to my children. I thought I’d never get them to read on their own . But I found out reading to them constantly nurtures a love for it and the rest takes care of itself. Great blog, I have it on my blog roll. ~Terri Jones

  2. 3

    Colleen said,

    That’s a great post and such a good reminder! And I love reading aloud, too. Jerry (who is nearly 14) and I were just saying yesterday that we were going to go back to reading aloud before he goes to bed. The tricky part will be getting him to bed before I fall asleep!

  3. 4

    Bleu said,

    I used to worry so much about spelling and handwriting, until I realized one day we don’t have to live our lives according to someone else’s arbitrary schedule of learning.

    Great post.

  4. 6

    Cristina said,

    Great post. I’m still in that worry about handwriting. One of my son’s religious ed. teachers two or three years ago actually commented about his handwriting. Of course, I know if he sets his mind to it, his handwriting is fine, but the homeschooler in me wanted to have a shiny kid to show off to the community to prove I was doing a good job.

    Now I’m falling more along the lines of unschooling and I think his writing (and spelling) are fine. I think society just isn’t patient enough. Kids figure these things out in their own time.

    Peace and Laughter!

  5. 8

    Nikki said,

    Lovely reminder! Thank you for sharing with us. I know I sure do need to relax:)

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