St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschool Conference
Mark your calendars for next year's Conference: March 31-April 3, 2011.
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"Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy." - St Theophan the Recluse
2009 Conference Report:
Homeschooling has been such a joy and a blessing to us. Initially we began homeschooling because we felt that the education of our children, as St. Theophan calls the most holy task, was too important to trust to others. Over the years, our understanding of this has matured as we have discovered four primary benefits to home education: First, our home, our "domestic church", is less fractured because the home is locus and hub of our education and out life; the kids are not pulled in too many directions. Second, we can provide a more individually-tailored education based on our educational philosophy: the classical model. The classical model focuses on the cultivation of virtue and follows the Trivium and Quadrivium. Thirdly, from the comfort of our "homeschool room" we can provide our children with a peaceful, prayerful, and safe environment for physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Finally, the flexibility allows us to participate more fully in the life of the Church, field trips, family trips, involvement in local charities, exploration of nature, great books, and museums and parks in depth, as well as keep in meaningful contact with parishioners, family, friends, and other homeschoolers through local "co-ops".
We are also quite aware of our limitations and realize that we can not raise godly-children on our own. This why we are grateful to have had an opportunity like the St. Emmelia Orthodox Homeschooling onference hosted by the Antiochian Village Conference Center recently. Praying, playing, learning, and eating together with other homeschooling families provided us with many opportunities for growth. It was especially touching to see our children make such good friends that they have kept in touch with as pen-pals and hope to see again at summer camp.
Bishop THOMAS, Fr. Anthony Yazge, and "Uncle" Paul Finley led us so heartily in the many beautiful lenten services. St. Peter and Paul chapel was alive not only with Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs but also the squirmy movements and noises of nfants, toddlers, and small children, an angelic choir. Our children experienced the spirit of the joy and spiritual strength of the village with night hikes, bonfires, movie-discussions, crafts, and workshops on icons and understanding world views.
These activities kept our children profitably engaged while the adults attended lectures and workshops. At these lectures, most importantly, we were reminded that the focus of education is not a particular ideology but our family's salvation. The conference opened with a lecture on St. Emmelia and her family (Officially Glorified, grandmother, parents, and five children including the great Church Fathers, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa). Other addresses and workshops were beautifully delivered and moderated by noted Orthodox speakers, authors, educators, homeschoolers, and curriculum developers on practical topics like; educating multiple ages, developmental psychology, educating special needs children, Latin, writing, history, teaching worldviews, the father's role, simple cooking, and classical education.
Of course, our spiritual, academic and social nourishment was punctuated with the marvelous meals that also feed us spiritually. The excellent chef, Tim, and staff inspired us in our lenten journey and our desire to cook nourishing, wholesome, and tasty foods. Each meal, strictly lenten, delicious, and simple, reminded us that it is possible to keep the fast and raise healthy children on a single income and a homeschooling mother's busy schedule to the satisfaction of all.
In all these areas, we came away edified and renewed in our effort to make our homeschools, as Bishop THOMAS stated in a recent article, "the best place for salvation" for our children. We are grateful to Metropolitan PHILIP and Bishop THOMAS, for blessing and overseeing this wonderful conference and to Paul Finley, director of the Conference Center, and to Barli Brown, director of Orthodox programs, for putting together such a spiritually rewarding weekend, and to all of the knowledgeable and loving people who shared their expertise with us during the conference. We are waiting expectantly for next year's conference to inspire and equip us in this most holy task. We hope you will join us next year for the conference and also in homeschooling and supporting homeschoolers.
Holy Mother Emmelia, pray to God for us as we attempt to follow your footsteps of raising up heroes for Christ!