by Zaida Wohleking
“Train a child on the right path and even when old, he will not depart from it.”
Our family’s homeschooling experience began when our oldest daughter Bianca was in the seventh grade. She had been enrolled in private and parochial schools but as she was growing older, we saw moral and academic issues in the schools. Our concerns led to tears, then to prayers. Looking for direction, I attended a Christian Homeschool Conference in Richmond, Virginia.
The different curriculums just didn’t speak to me. Coming from a parochial background, we were looking for a Catholic curriculum. When I returned home, I shared my dilemma with a friend and she asked if I had heard about Seton Home Study School. She told me, “Look at this book from Seton and tell me what you think.”
It was the weekend but I immediately called Seton and Mary Kay Clark answered the phone. “Dr. Clark, I’m very confused. I think homeschooling is the answer we have been looking for but there are so many curriculums and…” Dr. Clark immediately reassured me. “Please call me Mary Kay.” We spoke for quite a while and I was more confident that this was the right choice for my family. “Talk it over with your husband and call us back on Monday,” Dr. Clark assured me, “and a counselor will guide you through the enrollment process. They will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.”
Well that’s what I did and on Monday, Mr. Manuel Vicente answered my call. As Mary Kay had promised, he guided me and answered all of my questions. He made me feel so comfortable!
At that point, we explained to Bianca what we were doing. She said, “Mom, this will not work for me! I don’t want to leave my friends!” I told her to give me six months and then we’ll see… Sure, there were rough spots as we got started but it was not too long before she was the happiest and most confident girl in the world.
I’m convinced that homeschooling has provided the environment for her to become more responsible, independent, and involved in the Church. But what has meant so much to my husband and me is that homeschooling has helped us develop a closer relationship with the children.
Since Bianca has always needed to be around people, in the beginning we were concerned about how we would include that element into our homeschooling. But our parish, St. Francis de Sales, has provided so many opportunities for our children to make good friends. Bianca has helped me teach parish religious education and even been recognized by the Knights of Columbus as Young Woman of the Year!
Bianca has said that when she began to homeschool, she felt that she was giving up her friends in school. That was a great sacrifice to her. But her being open to homeschooling was saying yes to God and He has given her so much in return, a hundred fold! Saying yes led her to our parish to find friendships and there she’s made so many friends who share her goals and values. She has taken on leadership roles in our parish youth group. Helping with my CCD classes has given her the opportunity to share the Faith with others. God rewarded her when she said yes, when she got on the right path.
Looking back on the last seven years of our homeschooling journey, there are many memories. When we made the decision to homeschool Bianca, there was a lot going on in our lives. We had moved to Virginia to be closer to my husband’s mom after his dad’s passing. Back then, Tim was working three part time jobs to provide for the family. He’d start at UPS at 3:30 am and get home from the third job after 11 pm. There were many challenges. But today, when we look at Nicholas, Sarah, and Bianca we see the results.
As Tim says, “Seton Home Study School has provided our family with an entirely different level of education. My friends at work often comment on how intelligent and well-behaved our children are. I’m very proud of them and know that my children make me a better person!”
A Note from the Graduate
by Bianca Wohleking
So here we are, the day before graduation. Although I’m relieved that high school is over, I’m going to miss homeschooling alongside my brother and sister, Nicholas and Sarah. Aside from that, my nostalgia for Seton Home Study School has already begun.
Mom and Dad, I have to say thank you for deciding to take our education into your hands. It’s been six years that we’ve been homeschooling and I can honestly say that through the ups and downs and ins and outs, I’ve loved every single minute of it. Mom, you’re the bravest woman I know! You put on the armor of the Holy Spirit and YOU DID IT!
I have so many memories. From using the Seton lesson plans, to having the counselors available when I needed them the most, to watching my Faith grow as I learned so much about God and His Church! Looking back though, maybe what impresses me the most is how homeschooling made our family grow closer. The increased bond between siblings is one of the ways that homeschooling will change a family’s life.
But back to those memories! Mom, do you remember those cold rainy days when Nick, Sarah, and I did school on the floor on our comforters? You made paninis and hot chocolate. Or in the spring when school lightened up a bit and we let Nick tell the jokes he wanted so badly to say while in school. We laughed so hard we had to hold our stomachs. And those days when we’d start early, finish around 5, and feel like the most accomplished homeschoolers on the planet.
Dad, I’m going to miss those days when you’d come home from work and take Nick out and we’d all meet up for lunch or Mass. Those were the best days of my life; spending time with the people God gave me to be with – my family. That’s all this really comes to.
God, thank you for all that you have provided us with. I could not have imagined a better plan than the one you have placed before me. Please watch over the Class of 2012 and direct us in your way.
Mom and Dad, I’m totally and completely convinced that you’re the best parents in the world! Hat’s off to how you manage to do all of this. You’re doing such a good job.
Sarah and Nick, you are my best friends in the entire world! It’s been so fun having you as classmates for these six years. I wouldn’t take back one happy, sad, angry, or glorious day.
Seton Home Study School, thank you for teaching me to persevere and overcome my challenges and to love the Holy Catholic Church with all of my heart and soul.