It is within the family where children are raised and formed as human beings. The parental role in this human formation is governed by love, a love which places itself "at the service of children to draw forth from them ("e-ducere") the best that is in them" and which "finds its fullest expression precisely in the task of educating." (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, No. 239) That is why the family may be called the "first school."
The parental duty to educate their children comes tied to a right. Parents are the "original and primary" educators of their children, and their duties as well as their rights are "irreplaceable and inalienable." (Compendium, 239) The duty is non-delegable. The parent is ultimately responsible for his or her child. Though the parent may obtain the help of other persons or institutions, these always remain in loco parentis, in the parents' place. Importantly, this is a task shared by both parents, and so "the role of the father and that of the mother are equally necessary" (Compendium, 242).
I agree completely.
So, having that out of the way, I do not believe that all parents should keep their children out of conventional school.
I think my parents did a great job of being our "primary educators"; we five attended public and Catholic schools. All of us have college degrees with three of us (so far) having post-graduate degrees. We are all married in the Catholic Church (no pride, just facts) and follow Church teaching. How did my parents 'succeed' in raising us? By God's grace and....
--- Our parents went to parent-teacher conferences and checked our homework. They walked the halls and knew who our friends were.
--- None of us attended sex education classes in public school. Yes, I was the one kid in 9th grade who sat in the library and wrote a paper on dolphins or something.
--- My parents limited television and other media.
--- The library was our go-to entertainment, especially in the summertime.
--- We consistently ate dinner and worshiped together.
--- There were lots of books in our house. We saw our parents read and they also read aloud to us.
--- We saw our father studying for his Bachelor degree that he completed when he was 40 or so.
--- My parents weren't afraid to change schools for various reasons. This can be a hard thing (especially for the extreme introvert I was and am); I attended different schools every year from 5th to 10th grade. yes, that is 6 schools in 6 years. But my mother had her reasons. The funny thing is, I recently visited my hometown where my parents still are. I visited only 2 friends. One was a high school friend, but we became friends when we taught together in Slovakia. The other is a friend from 7th grade (if anyone knows any amazing Baptist man 35 to 42 or so, I would love to make a match for her- she is a lovely woman...)
--- They even opened our lockers!
--- They supplemented our public school education. I took a bit of ballet, voice, violin, and piano lessons. But we weren't crazy-busy (hence, the time to eat together as a family)
--- We were blessed to have room to play as children.
--- We were blessed to have an intact family. But even if you are doing it yourself through divorce or widowhood, it is still possible to be a 'primary educator.' You need a 'village.' Yes, it does take a village to raise a child, but it is the parents' right and responsibility to choose the inhabitants of their children's village.
Please add your ideas on how to be a 'primary educator' in the comment box!