Homeschool group plans conference

By MARNIE McALLISTER
Record Assistant Editor

While homeschooling isn’t common around the Archdiocese of Louisville, there are committed and faith-filled families in the archdiocese that do educate their children at home. And they want to share the benefits of homeschooling with other families during the Kentucky Catholic Homeschool Conference, set for June 1-2 at St. Louis Bertrand Church, 1104 S. Sixth St.

The conference is hosted by the St. Thomas Aquinas Homeschool Group, which serves as a support group and network for about 30 Catholic homeschooling families in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. The conference is designed for veteran homeschoolers as well as for those who are just learning about the practice.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz will address the conference on June 1 at 2:30 p.m. It will also feature other speakers, vendors and small break-out sessions on a variety of topics, including a session for teenagers. Other speakers at the conference include Father Fred Klotter, pastor of St. Martin of Tours Church, and Cheryl Lowe, founder of the Highlands Latin School.

During an interview recently, members of the homeschooling group said they encourage families who are curious about homeschooling to attend.

“It would be perfect for them to come for the conference,” said Chris Geddie, a young mom who homeschools her three children and is helping to organize the conference. “They can learn about homeschooling and find curriculum and resources.”

Geddie, a member of St. Martin of Tours Church, said she knew in college — while dating her future husband — that she wanted to homeschool her children, now ages 10, eight and six. It’s a way to make sure their Catholic faith remains at the center of their lives, she said. Smiling broadly, she added, “It’s an adventure.”

Geddie said she supplements her lessons with curriculum and lesson plans that she buys from companies that specialize in Catholic homeschooling.

Another member of the group is veteran homeschooler Joan Stromberg, a mother of 10. She started educating her children at home 22 years ago, when her oldest son was 3 and a half. She had to chart her own course for the most part, she said, because most families that homeschooled at the time were not Catholic.

It was necessity that drew her to homeschooling, initially.

“To put 10 kids in Catholic schools was prohibitive, especially if you’re going to be a stay-at-home mom,” she said.

She noted that each family designs their schedules the way they want, with what works best for them. For the Strombergs, each day begins with prayer and sometimes Mass at their parish, Immaculate Conception Church in LaGrange, Ky., where she serves as a youth minister, too.

Stromberg usually sits with her grade school children as they learn; her high school age pupils generally are self-directed.

Lisa Ryan, hadn’t initially planned on homeschooling, but decided to at the last minute, she noted, “But it’s worked well for us.”

Two of her six children were finalists in the National Merit Scholarship program.

“That was a real blessing for us,” she said. Ryan added that two of her children are in college now and that homeschooling prepared them for the rigors of the University of Louisville Speed School.

“The (homeschool) curriculum is written for independent learners,” she noted. So, homeschoolers “are used to toughing it out on their own.”

Becky Armstrong is one of the newest members of the group. She turned to homeschooling when one of her children started to need extra help in some areas. She discovered ways to help her struggling child and a rich faith life in the St. Thomas Aquinas Homeschool Group, she said.

“If we didn’t have the group, our family wouldn’t know the different things we’ve learned about Catholicism,” she said. “I feel like I learn a lot from everybody.”

The homeschool group gathers a few times each month to give the children time to socialize and the opportunity to learn with their peers. They meet at St. Louis Bertrand once a month for prayer, activities, lunch and extracurricular activities, including meetings for Catholic clubs, such as the Little Flowers girls club and Blue Knights boys club.

The families also visit the Little Sisters of the Poor each month to visit the residents and the sisters.

More information about the group and the Kentucky Catholic Homeschool Conference is available at www.louisvillecatholichomeschooling.com.

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